Dropkick Murphys will continue their journey interpreting the work of Woody Guthrie for a new generation with their upcoming album 'Okemah Rising'.
Dropkick Murphys’ upcoming 10-track album Okemah Rising takes off from 2022’s This Machine Still Kills Fascists, on which they write original music around previously-unpublished lyrics of the late Guthrie in a unique collaboration, with the band finding a common philosophy in the timeless and timely lyrics of the “original punk.”
Joined by trusted collaborator and producer Ted Hutt, Dropkick Murphys channeled Guthrie’s spirit during the recording sessions in Tulsa. And much like on This Machine Still Kills Fascists, Dropkick Murphys welcomed guest artists on Okemah Rising to help propel Woody’s words, including folk punk legends Violent Femmes, fellow Boston rebel Jesse Ahern, and country songstress Jaime Wyatt.
Okemah Rising’s first single and video ‘I Know How It Feels‘ gallops out of the gate towards an empathetic middle-class commiseration with the refrain, “I know how it feels to work ‘til you drop, and it’s 10,000 bills that you owe.”
Watch the music video for ‘I Know How It Feels’:
Highlights of Okemah Rising include collaborations with folk punk progenitors Violent Femmes on “Gotta Get To Peekskill,” country singer songwriter Jaime Wyatt on “Bring It Home,” and Bostonian upstart Jesse Ahern (whose forthcoming album will be released on Dropkick Murphys’ Dummy Luck Music label) on “Rippin Up The Boundary Line.” The album comes to a fitting and triumphant close with “I’m Shipping Up To Boston – Tulsa Version.” Dropkick Murphys reinvent and reinvigorate their most famous Guthrie collaboration acoustically without sacrificing any of its punch, passion, and power.
Casey reveals, “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. 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.”
As 2023 wears on, Okemah Rising is the best soundtrack we have to the uprising of workers in the modern economy – one that Woody couldn’t have ever dreamed of in his day of industrial labor. Remarkably, Guthrie’s lyrics ring true even today, as we see baristas, internet retail warehouse workers, and medical students fight the billionaire corporate overlords with their efforts to unionize.
Nearly three decades in, Dropkick Murphys stand with their audiences and the working class, as they rally around the undying words of Woody Guthrie – their hero, and the original punk.
Given the universality and timelessness of Woody Guthrie’s lyrical themes, and Dropkick Murphys’ popularity around the globe, the songs from these two albums have resonated worldwide. In February, at the band’s sold-out London Wembley Arena show, vocalist Ken Casey tailored the chorus of union anthem “All You Fonies” (from TMSKF) to the room, replacing “Fonies” with “ Tories.” That timely lyrical shift brought Guthrie’s decades-old lyric into the modern-day malaise of countless British unions (maritime, rail, transit, nurses, firefighters, postal workers, teachers, health care workers and more) battling with the nation’s corporate elite and Tory politicians. The band released a video for “All You Tories” featuring performance footage and animation:
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