Jesse Howard was a protestor. He held firmly to his right of free
speech and to express his thoughts as he saw fit. He placed himself in
the American tradition of protest and social commentary and of forming
that energy into popular art. Woody Guthrie was also a powerful source
of social commentary and political protest. His folk songs are a key
component of our national discourse on issues of equality and justice.
In 1998 Woody Guthrie's daughter, Nora proposed a project to British
singer/songwriter Billy Bragg. She had discovered in her father's
archives a cache of unheard lyrics, never put to song. She thought
Bragg was a kindred spirit who could set the lyrics to music and present
them to a contemporary audience. The result was "Mermaid Avenue", an
album of songs created by Billy Bragg and the American band Wilco. This
song, "Christ for President" combines Jesse Howard's two favorite
subjects, God and Country. I think he may have liked it.