"I Ain't Got No Home" tells the story of a man whose lost everything due to the conditions around him. He is a hard working man and he is poorer than dirt. He's poor despite working harder than the men who are rich. You would think by this description that the song would be a sad sounding one. Maybe it'd be in a minor key. It's not. It's a major key, usually reserved for happier sounding songs. One of the interesting things about Woody is that he rarely used minor chords. He used major chords while singing about deep struggle. It makes me stop and think about how I perceive the struggles in my own life and challenges me to re-evaluate. Did Woody use major chords as a reflection of a deeper sense of joy despite external struggles? Or did he just not know any better? I see it as a reflection of a man who can abide despite the hardships he has endured, and that is the kind of man I'd like to be.
Unfortunately, "I Ain't Got No Home" can be under-appreciated for its happy sounding chord progression and "backwoods" lyrical stylings. The point of the song is sometimes lost, even to the point of being remade into a hokey and less artistic song "This World Is Not My Home." For fun I decided to see what the song would sound like and make me feel were it written using a minor chord progression. Would the words sink in deeper? How would people in our culture react now, compared to then? Below is my cover of "I Ain't Got No Home" where I placed the same melody into a chord progression that starts with a minor chord. I hope you enjoy and that you look into more of Woody Guthrie on your own.