Wikipedia insists the lyrics are by Guthrie. Every article you’ll read online insists that it’s a cover of a Guthrie song. And yet, I can’t find anything online that mentions the song or connects it to Guthrie at all that predates the recording of the Murphys’ song. The liner notes on the album the Murphys released it on credit to him, but every web search I’ve tried fails to produce anything that isn’t a reference to their recording or which obviously predates their recording; I can’t find a recording prior to theirs, a print publication of the lyrics, any mention of the song prior to their coming along. The Wikipedia article itself says little other than “Woody Guthrie wrote it, and then Dropkick Murphys covered it”, which is a pretty sparse summary considering that somewhere between 60-80 years must have transpired between those two events. I certainly don’t recall hearing it at all prior to the Murphys’ version.
I suspect that the Murphys are the original authors of the song and that they fictitiously attributed it to Guthrie in order to lend more gravitas to the composition. If Guthrie indeed wrote it, it feels oddly brief and fragmentary - it’s hardly a complete story, it doesn’t feel like what most of his more well-known songs feel like, and it just seems downright odd that no one would have recorded it between whenever Guthrie wrote it and when the Murphys covered it.
Is there some earlier recording of this song that I’m not aware of, or is its alleged authorship truly just a latter-day marketing stunt?