Saturday, July 04, 2009

This land was made for you and me

Woody Guthrie wrote the song "This Land is Your Land" in 1940 as a reaction to the syrupy sentiments of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America." We forget now Guthrie's song was not originally just a patriotic camp singalong.

When formerly blacklisted folk icon Pete Seeger sang it on the Washington Mall during the Obama inauguration concert, he sang the whole thing, including what singer Jill Sobule and others have mockingly referred to as the "Commie verses."

An anthem is a song of celebration. For a country as diverse as ours we need more than one National Anthem. "This Land is Your Land" belongs on that list of unofficial anthems, and not just the feel-good verses.

    This Land is Your Land

    by Woodrow Wilson Guthrie

    This land is your land, this land is my land
    From California, to the New York Island
    From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
    This land was made for you and me

    As I was walking a ribbon of highway
    I saw above me an endless skyway
    I saw below me a golden valley
    This land was made for you and me


    I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps
    To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
    And all around me a voice was sounding
    This land was made for you and me


    The sun comes shining as I was strolling
    The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
    The fog was lifting a voice come chanting
    This land was made for you and me


    There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
    Sign was painted, it said private property;
    But on the back side it didn't say nothing;
    That side was made for you and me.


    In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
    By the relief office I seen my people;
    As they stood there hungry, I stood there whistling
    Is this land made for you and me?


    Nobody living can ever stop me,
    As I go walking that freedom highway;
    Nobody living can ever make me turn back
    This land was made for you and me.

1 comment:

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I don't know if you own Springsteen's "The Seeger Sessions - Live In Dublin" or not, but it's pretty good.
The folkie jug band versions of the Springsteen canon are fun. Some of the Seeger stuff wears a bit thin halfway through the first listen. Like, how long can anyone stand to listen to Bruce do "This Little Light Of Mine", "We Shall Overcome", and "When The Saints Go Marching In" in full righteous fervor? (I own the complete Sprinsteen recorded output, BTW)