SPEAKER 1: So in the spring of 1950, Woody Guthrie was on a plane from California to New York. And by chance, he was seated next to John Greenway, a very noted folklorist, working on a book on American folk songs of protest. And John Greenway reports that as the plane passed over Oklahoma, he told Woody, "There's your home."
And Guthrie looked down at the clouds and asked for a pen. A few minutes later, he showed Greenway a new song-- I want to lay my head tonight on a bed of Oklahoma clouds. Greenway asked him if he was-- if he always wrote that quickly. And Woody said, "No, only when I got a good pen."
So he probably reworked the song at some point. And it's now known as California Dreaming. Jake Bennett and Jeff Tweedy have written music for it. And Annie's going to sing it.
ANNIE: California Stars.
SPEAKER 1: California Stars.
ANNIE: Because California Dreaming, that's a whole other song, but I know that.
SPEAKER 1: California Stars, right.
ANNIE: OK, I'm going to try to work my way through here.
[MUSIC PLAYING - WOODY GUTHRIE, "CALIFORNIA STARS"] I'd like to rest my heady head tonight on a bed of California stars. I'd like to lay my weary bones tonight on a bed of California stars. I'd love to feel your hand touching mine. Tell me why must I keep working on. Give my life to lay my head on a bed of California stars.
I'd like to dream my troubles all away on a bed of California stars, jump up from my star bed and make another day underneath my California stars. They hang like grapes on vines that shine on the lovers glass, like friendly wine. I'd give this world just to dream a dream with you on a bed of California stars. I'd give this world to dream a dream with you on a bed of California stars.
Thank you so much for having me as a guest this evening.
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Join historian Richard Polenberg in a lecture and concert of the life and songs of Woody Guthrie.
This video is part 14 of 17 in the Woody Guthrie: His Life, Times, and Music series.