22 February 2010

This Land Is Your Land


On February 23, 1940 Woody Guthrie penned what is arguably one of the most well known American folk song.   "This Land Is Your Land" was an activist response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America" which Woody considered too complacent.  For seventy years now this song dedicated to the idea that the country belongs to its citizens has been sung by virtually every one capable of carrying a tune and more than a few who couldn't.

The original lyrics were:
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 went walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me.

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

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
A voice was chanting, As the fog was lifting,
This land was made for you and me.

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.

In addtion there are other original verses recorded by Guthrie in 1944 now in possession of the Library of Congress

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

It also has a verse:
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.

In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;
By the relief office, I'd seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me?

This song saw a revival in the 1960s as a protest song with the idea that the people were in control and had the right to protest when the government took actions in their names.  This was most notably sung by both Pete Seeger who had been a close friend of Guthrie, and by Peter Paul and Mary .
 

 
 

1 comment:

Travis said...

I always liked this song. It made me feel included, rather than some of the other patriotic songs that often made me feel apart because I didn't want to sing the word or concept of deity over me or my country.