In 1935, Woody Guthrie documented the harsh conditions many endured during the Great Depression in “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know Yuh,” inspired by witnessing the Black Sunday dust storm in Texas from that April. On Wednesday, Lee Ann Womack released a new version of the song (under its original title, “Dusty Old Dust”) from the upcoming Guthrie tribute project Home in This World: Woody Guthrie’s Dustbowl Ballads.
Starting with gentle piano, Womack’s arrangement expands to include a pair of acoustic guitars, on top of which she retells the story of a little town where the dust storm “hit like thunder/It dusted us over, an’ it covered us under,” as she sings. As with Guthrie’s rendition, there’s an air of gallows humor in the swaying chorus about being forced away from home by brutal weather: “So long, it’s been good to know yuh,” Womack sings, with multi-part harmonies that convey both joy and sadness accompanying her.
“‘Dusty Old Dust’ is such a great example of how a magical songwriter’s timeless lyrics can bring life to conditions that are hard for us to imagine and keep history alive,” Womack, who most recently released The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone in 2018, said in a release.
Womack’s cover is the latest release from Home in This World following the Secret Sisters’ version of “Dust Cain’t Kill Me” and Waxahatchee’s “Talking Dust Bowl Blues.” Other artists on the album include Mark Lanegan, Shovels & Rope, Colter Wall, John Paul White, Chris Thile, and Lillie Mae. The album will be released September 10th via Elektra Records.