California Stars, by Woody Guthrie and Wilco

I saw Wilco perform at the Greek Theater in Berkeley a couple weeks ago, and is was a fantastic show. One of the songs they played, California Stars, is one of my favorite Wilco songs, and in the above video they can be seen playing it at the same Greek Theater five years ago.

Today is National Poetry Day in the UK, and the theme is “Stars.” What better way to salute British poetry than with a song penned by a quintessential American folk icon? California Stars is a beautiful poem/song written by Woody Guthrie, but never recorded until Wilco and Billy Bragg put it on Mermaid Avenue (1998), one of two albums they produced of songs created from a sheaf of unreleased Guthrie lyrics. This year, in honor of Guthrie’s 100th birthday,  the two Mermaid Avenue albums, plus outtakes and interviews, have been released in a new boxed set, Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions. Enjoy.

California Stars

I’d like to rest my heavy 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
And ell me why i must keep working on
Yes, I’d give my life to lay my head tonight
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 starbed and make another day
Underneath my California stars
They hang like grapes on vines that shine
And warm the lovers glass like friendly wine
So, I’d give this world just to dream a dream with you
On our bed of California stars

~Words by Woody Guthrie, music by Jay Bennett/Jeff Tweedy

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