Johny Depp Is at It Again

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean
Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean

Johnny Depp the Literary Agent

Johnny Depp is at it again…….and I’m not talking about another Pirates of the Caribbean movie, though it is quite possible that an additional jaunt through the Caribbean is in the works. (Why kill a good thing?) No, what has caught my interest this time is the 2013 release of a Woody Guthrie novel entitled House of Earth. And please don’t use the lame excuse that Mr. Guthrie has been deceased for almost 50 years…..That won’t work. You see Woody Guthrie published two books when he was alive. In case you aren’t aware of these literary efforts, they are titled Bound for Glory and Seeds of Man….and they’re both autobiographical. So it’s no great stretch to surmise that somewhere there’s a half-way-decent Woody Guthrie novel floating around.

Birthplace of Woody Guthrie in Okfusgee County, OK  Historic American Buildings Survey. Walter Smalling, photographer
Birthplace of Woody Guthrie in Okfusgee County, OK Historic American Buildings Survey. Walter Smalling, photographer

Woody Guthrie’s Posthumous Music Release

Mermaid Avenue is the name of the album and it featured Billy Bragg along with a band called Wilco and together they performed and recorded a whole slew of never-before-heard Woody Guthrie tunes. Overall, the collection is pretty good with my favorite being Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key, a fun little tune about growing up in Okfusgee County in Oklahoma. What is most amazing about this selection of songs is that the lyrics were left behind by Woody. So without benefit of any musical notations, Billy Bragg took on the task of creating musical folk compositions from the bag of words. The outcome is pretty amazing really……and has resulted in additional compositions from the trove of leftover lyrics held by Woody’s daughter Nora (both by Billy Bragg and other musicians).

Woody Guthrie with the captioned guitar, This Guitar Kills Fascist, by Al Aumuller/New York World-Telegram and the Sun from wikipedia
Woody Guthrie with the captioned guitar, This Guitar Kills Fascist, by Al Aumuller/New York World-Telegram and the Sun from wikipedia

Publishing a Novel

Compared to Mermaid Avenue publishing the novel must have been easy. The manuscript had been around since the late forties, a time when Guthrie’s first two books had been released, but the first symptons of Huntington’s disease had not yet begun to show. The novel had been shopped around to various publishing houses, but there were no takers.

Now that the year 2013 has arrived, the book is in print and available in most bookstores. Credit goes out to Johnny Depp and Douglas Brinkley of Infinitum Nihil, who have decided to publish House of Earth, long after it was first finished in1947. Basically, this production company concentrates on film ventures with House of Earth being there first pure literary venture.

A farmer and his two sons during a dust storm in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, 1936, Photo: Arthur Rothstein
A farmer and his two sons during a dust storm in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, 1936, Photo: Arthur Rothstein

What’s Inside House of Earth

I have not read House of Earth, but I do know that the title is a reference to adobe construction, a building method that fascinated Woody Guthrie, when he was alive and well. Also, the storyline of this novel centers on struggles of those who lived through the Dust Bowl, which Woody did in Pampa, Texas. To find out the rest of the details, you’ll just have to read the book……or wait until the movie comes out.

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