In the '30s, Woody Guthrie spent an extended period in the Columbia River valley of the Pacific Northwest. It was here that he wrote many of the songs that helped cement his legend as the pre-eminent American folk singer and songwriter of his generation. These songs are collected on the Rounder compilation THE COLUMBIA RIVER COLLECTION.
Many of the songs are directly related to the river, like the topical odes to the river's then-current WPA projects, "Song of the Coulee Dam," "Grand Coulee Dam," and "The Biggest Thing Man Has Ever Done." Others are paeans to the untamed beauty of the river and its environs, like the majestic "Roll on Columbia." Some songs are dedicated to the workers, like "Jackhammer Blues" and the wry self-parody "It Takes a Married Man to Song a Worried Song." The gospel-tinged "Pastures of Plenty" is the album's highpoint, and one of Guthrie's very best.