Uma writes about listening to the legendary Dust Bowl Ballads (thereby proving there is something called synchronicity - I am reading Steinbeck and she quotes from Tom Joad.)
While Woody's music has now largely been relegated to the Smithsonian/Folkways-folk music listening crowd, rock music owes a lot to Woody (right up to late 90s' protest-rock like Rage Against the Machine).
Protest music really came into being via Woody. Political (and social consciousness) in rock music exists because of Woody. (And how sad that *they* subverted and distorted "This Land is Your Land" and turned it into a patriotic song? It is anything but, read the lyrics)
Bob Dylan's admiration for Woody is itself a part of rock mythology: the young protege who surpassed the guru and scaled dizzying heights. As Woody lay dying, Dylan wrote a beautiful, stream-of-consciousness poem-song called "Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie". (the song appears only on "Bootleg Series" album.) If Rock had once prided itself on the lack of tradition and lineage, this was Dylan's acknowledgement of Guthrie's genius. Everyone stands on the shoulders of giants, and Woody is one giant on whose shoulders stood many of the beloved 60s rock icons, albeit unknowingly.
And who can forget Woody's famous sticker on his beat-up acoustic guitar: "THIS MACHINE KILLS FASCISTS". The idea that an itty-bitty acoustic guitar carried such a bombastic slogan is so awesomely punk.
Sidenote: Protest music is largely a western concept. Indian music (or at least, popular Indian music) really contains nothing that resembles "protest". I wonder why? (Other than the fact that popular Indian music has rarely stepped out of the filmscreen.) But is there protest in our folk music?