Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
After a bit of digging, I found this version of Woody Guthrie’s classic “This Land is Your Land” (written in 1940) as performed by Pete Seeger, with some help from Bruce Springsteen, among others.
Lyrics found here for all verses. Those which Seeger includes aren’t usually sung, deemed “radical” and “un-American” and “communist” at different times and by various people. For me at least, they resonate in this Occupied time.
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.
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 asking
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.
You can read more about this well known song with not so well known verses at NPR’s The Story Of Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land Is Your Land’. Or, see Folk Music.
In 1940, American folk singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie penned what has become one of the most memorable and timeless American folk songs in the history of the craft.
… Guthrie wrote the song in response to the hugely popular Irving Berlin song, ‘God Bless America.’ He was so tired of hearing the song on the radio and the blatant jingoism it promoted. Guthrie had seen much of America by this time, had experienced the Dust Bowl exodus of the 1930s and the racism and classism that followed emigrant workers and the blue collar working boys around, as they searched for work during the Great Depression.
With all of that in mind, Woody Guthrie wrote a new song of patriotism, with the refrain line, ‘God blessed America for me.’
The song includes rather poignant lyrics that were considered subversive in their time. Lyrics to the song tackle the definition of liberty, individual rights and property ownership.
“God blessed America for me” became “This land was made for you and me.” Just something to think about, these “subversive” lyrics, at a time when millions remain “disemployed” (Lambert Strether’s great term); foreclosures continue; food stamps are cut; the petroleum industry gets Keystone and more deep sea drilling; wars keep going; drones keep flying; health care remains more an “issue” and “product” than a human right; and Wall Street and the Electeds mostly continue on their course of choice.
Celebrating Independence Day is fine – picnics, fireworks and music. That’s all good. I just need to remember the real life “verses” for people who can very understandably ask: “Is this land for you and me?”
Treat this as an Open Thread, July 4 related or otherwise.