Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie

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"Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie"
Poem by Bob Dylan
from the album The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991
Released March 26, 1991
Recorded April 12, 1963
Genre Spoken Word, Poetry
Length 7:08
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) Bob Dylan
The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991 track listing
"The Times They Are a-Changin'"
"Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie"

"Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie" is a poem written by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, and recited live during his April 12, 1963 performance at New York City's Town Hall.[1] It was released in 1991 on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991 after circulating on bootleg releases for years, even appearing on the ten-LP box set Ten of Swords in 1985.


Dylan's performance at the Town Hall on April 12 was used to debut several new compositions, such as "Tomorrow Is a Long Time", "Dusty Old Fairgrounds", "Ramblin' Down Thru the World", and "Bob Dylan's New Orleans Rag".[2] However, at the end of the concert, Dylan returned to the stage to recite one of his poems in public, "Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie", which he has never done since.[1] In his introduction, Dylan explained that he had written the piece after being asked to "write something about Woody...what does Woody Guthrie mean to you in twenty-five words" in the impending release of a book about Guthrie.[2] He then explains that he "couldn't do it, I wrote out five pages, and, I have it here, have it here by accident, actually."

The poem is essentially an analysis of hope. Dylan sets the scene by describing the stressors of everyday life and the myriad of challenging choices we have to make. These stimuli can, essential, cause us to feel alone, lost and without hope. Dylan then explains the function of hope and how we need something to give our lives meaning. He then finishes the poem by suggesting that Woody Guthrie is as much a source of hope and beauty in the world as God, or religion.[3]


  1. ^ a b Bauldie, John, (1991) Linear notes to The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3
  2. ^ a b Bjorner (May 21, 2010) New York City, New York, April 12, 1963 Bjorner's Still on the Road. Retrieved August 16, 2010
  3. ^ Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie (Bob Dylan). Retrieved August 18, 2010

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