|early evening, Coney Island boardwalk|
|on the boardwalk, Coney Island|
Yesterday, Billy Bragg, Nora Guthrie, and singer-songwriter Steve Earle (now a resident of Greenwich Village) reunited on the beach of Coney Island for a tribute to Guthrie. They took the sandy stage before a screening of the biopic, Bound for Glory (1976). They shared a few songs and told stories. Earle sang his song "Christmas in Washington," with the refrain "come back, Woody Guthrie." Billy Bragg spoke of Guthrie's wonderful children's songs, arguing that the birthday party on Coney Island should be upbeat and joyous. He then sang the sweet song "Dry Bed," his music set to Guthrie lyrics, about a young boy proud of the previous evening's accomplishment. Nora Guthrie took the mic to thank the "generous people" of Coney Island for hosting them for a memorable day. She led one and all in a spirited rendition of Woody Guthrie's anthem, "This Land is Your Land." With each verse, the chorus grew louder. People passing by on the beach and on the boardwalk, perhaps unaware of the nature of the event, joined in the singing. They all knew the words to one of the most famous folk songs of all time.
|On the beach, Billy Bragg (in black shirt) and Steve Earle (with guitar) prepare to introduce the evening's film, |
Bound for Glory (1976), with songs and stories.
From the mid-1950s to his death, Woody Guthrie was confined to a series of New York hospitals due to increasing disability as a result of Huntington's disease. After his death in 1967, Woody Guthrie's family gathered on the beach of Coney Island to scatter his ashes in the ocean.
|the beach at Coney Island|
On Saturday evening, when the music ended and the movie began, the sun set in a cotton candy-colored sky. The famous blue water off of Coney Island deepened to the color of midnight. The lights of the amusement park began to illuminate the boardwalk and the surrounding streets with the colors of a candy-colored fantasy, the dream of every boy and girl, big and small.
Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from the evening of July 14, 2012. Coney Island.
Coney Island: Flicks on the Beach continues with free screenings every Monday through August 6, 2012. See www.coneyislandfunguide.com for schedule.