16 April

Pick a Day


In Music History

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2018 Kendrick Lamar's album DAMN. wins the Pulitzer Prize for music, making him the first rapper to win the award, which traditionally goes to classical composers or jazz musicians.

2008 Barbra Streisand donates $5 million to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for a women's heart education and research program.

2003 Luther Vandross suffers a stroke that leaves him confined to a wheelchair. The singer, whose album Dance With My Father is released in June and goes to #1 in America, dies two years later.

2003 Jerry Lee Lewis files for divorce from his sixth wife, Kerrie McCarver, who was once the president of his fan club.

1999 Skip Spence of Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape dies of lung cancer two days before his 53rd birthday.

1996 Judy Collins marries her second husband, designer Louis Nelson.

1995 Bob Seger has his second child: a daughter named Samantha Char.

1995 Gabrielle gives birth to her son Jordan. Eight months later, Jordan's father murders his stepfather and is sentenced to life in prison.

1994 Harry Connick, Jr. marries Victoria's Secret model Jill Goodacre in New Orleans.

1993 Billy Burnette leaves Fleetwood Mac to pursue a country music career.

1992 David Milgaard is released from jail in Canada after serving 23 years for a crime he didn't commit. The Tragically Hip, who have helped in his fight for justice, write the song "Wheat Kings" about the ordeal.

1992 Nirvana appears on the cover of Rolling Stone with Kurt Cobain wearing a T-shirt that reads, "Corporate Magazines Still Suck."

1980 Academy Award-winning composer Morris Stoloff - who worked with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Dinah Shore during his long tenure as music director at Columbia Pictures - dies at age 81.

1977 Stevie Wonder becomes a father for the second time when his son Kieta is born.

1977 David Soul's "Don't Give Up On Us," written by Tony MacAulay, hits #1 in the US.

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Woody Guthrie Begins The Asch Recordings


On shore leave from the Merchant Marines, Woody Guthrie arrives at Folkway Records' studios in New York City, where he starts recording with the label's founder, Moses Asch, in what becomes known as the "Asch recordings." Among the songs recorded during these sessions is "This Land Is Your Land," which becomes an iconic populist protest anthem, covered by countless artists including Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen.

Guthrie wrote the song in February 1940, not long after he left his native Oklahoma for New York. The tune was inspired by "When the World's on Fire" by the Carter Family, a group widely considered to be founders of country and western music.

The lyrics were inspired by the world around Guthrie. As a young man in Oklahoma in the 1930s, he had first-hand knowledge of the impact of the Dust Bowl. Largely as an escape from a bad marriage, Guthrie rode the rails and hitchhiked across the United States, where he saw the effect of the Great Depression, all the while growing irritated at the incessant radio play of Irving Berlin's patriotic standard, "God Bless America."

As a response to "God Bless America," Guthrie sarcastically named his song "God Blessed America for Me" before settling on "This Land is Your Land." The original recording includes far more radical lyrics than those taught to American school children:

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me
The sign was painted, said 'Private Property'
But on the backside, it didn't say nothing
This land was made for you and me

Woody's daughter, Nora, discovers another verse that was never recorded:

One bright sunny morning
In the shadow of the steeple
By the relief office I saw my people
As they stood hungry
I stood there wondering
If God Blessed America for me

Even though Guthrie never recorded it, Woody's son, Arlo, and Pete Seeger always sing the verse during live performances.

In recognition of the song's place in American history, in 2002 the Library of Congress adds the song to the National Recording Registry, dedicated to preserving historically and culturally significant American sound recordings.



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