Dropkick Murphys Releasing Second Album of Woody Guthrie Lyrics

Dropkick Murphys are continuing to explore the lyrics of songwriting laureate Woody Guthrie with their upcoming album, Okemah Rising, set for release on May 12.

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It’s their second album that features previously-unpublished lyrics written by Guthrie. The 10-track album was recorded in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and named after the town Guthrie grew up in, Okemah. The album features collaborations with Violent Femmes on “Gotta Get to Peekskill,” country singer Jaime Wyatt on “Bring it Home” and Jesse Ahern collaborating on “Ripppin’ Up the Boundary Line.”

The album follows the 2022 release of This Machine Still Kills Fascists, which was named after the phrase Guthrie would write on his guitars. They’re teasing the new album with its first single, “I Know How it Feels.”  

“Every night, when the audience is singing along with Woody’s words, his steadfast defense of the working class, and his fight against social injustice and the abuse of political power comes across loud and clear,” Dropkick Murphys’ frontman Ken Casey says in a press release. “So as long as Dropkick Murphys are involved, Woody’s message will always be heard.”

Guthrie’s work has been an important part of the Murphys’ career, the band putting music to Guthrie’s lyrics to “Shipping Up to Boston,” which has become their signature hit. Okemah Rising has a connection to Guthrie’s lineage, as daughter Nora Gutherie is executive producing and his grandson Cole Quest is a featured artist. The album includes the Tulsa version of “Shipping Up to Boston.”

“Many people never realized that the lyrics for ‘I’m Shipping Up to Boston’ were written by Woody Guthrie, so we felt it important to include the song on this project and give it a proper home among the rest of our collaborations with his lyrics,” Casey explains. “We knew we needed to add some twists and turns to make this version special and fitting for this collection, so we gave it the Tulsa treatment.”

The band is also set to drop a documentary about recording the two Guthrie-inspired albums at a later date. Throughout the month of March, the band is embarking on Pega Presents…Dropkick Murphys St. Patrick’s Day 2023 Tour, which kicks off on March 1 and concludes with a four-night, sold-out stay in the band’s native city of Boston. They’ll perform three consecutive nights at MGM Music Hall at Fenway on March 16-18 and at the House of Blues on March 19, where the tour concludes.

Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images

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