Friday, October 12, 2007

Is This Land Made for You and Me?

Tara, of e.clec.tic spaghetti fame, notes in response to this post that she loves the song "This Land is Your Land".

I do too, and usually preface it with the comment that "I think it ought to be the National Anthem, but then again I've always been pretty pink."

I say that because Woody Guthrie originally wrote the song as a refutation of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America". Wikipedia does a good job of recapitulating the history here.

Because I'm singing on a children's stage, and because I don't need to get overly political, I always sing what has become the most recognizable version of the song, stopping after the first two, most recognized and most sing-alongable verses.

But it's probably worth your time to read the full song, written by an angry Woody Guthrie, in Late Depression-era America. For nearly everyone reading this, the last three verses will be new to you.

CHORUS: 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've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond desert
And 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
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting
This land was made for you and me.

Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my 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?

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


mielikki said...

I have always loved the FULL version of this song, too. Let's start that petition today to make it our national anthem.

David in DC said...

Me likey mielikki! :)

laura b. said...

I couldn't sing along with all the verses, but they are pretty freakin' awesome. I'll sign that petition.

Moonbeam said...

You just cant beat Woody. One of my favorites.

I would sign that petition too. Get it on!

As I read the lyrics I cant help but sing along. Thanks for putting that in my head, now :)

Tara said...

Hey, thank you for posting all of the lyrics! I know our teachers didn't teach us the angrier lyrics, but I do love them. Thanks again!

Churlita said...

I love Woody Guthrie. I read his biography and his autobiography. The Depression is definitely one of the US eras I'm most in. I took a class in college on the 1930's. It was amazing.

dmarks said...

I didn't know about the last lines, either!

Moonbeam said...

Hold on...just realized I mixed up my Guthries. Arlo is the "rather eat a pickle than ride my motorcicle" guy whom I am more familiar with and his tidbits.

Anyhoo Woody or Arlo, its still nice to know all the lyrics and yes the song keeps popping up in my head.

David in DC said...

Laura: If I ever find the free time to start such a campaign, I'll count on your signature.

Moonbeam: I'll count on your signature too. Sorry if the tune turns out to be an earworm, but there are worse things to have running around in your head.

Tara: Thanks for inspiring the post in the first place.

Churl: Me too. (The interest and reading the books.) Never took the class but between my grand- parents, parents and in-laws, I feel I've heard the stories.

Dmarks: Ya never know where you're gonna learn something new.

Moonbeam: Arlo is Woody's son. But Woody was already too sick by the time Arlo was interested in picking up a guitar for his dad to teach him. So Bob Dylan did.

For anybody unfamilar with the Arlo song moonbeam refers to, here are its lyrics, in their entirety:

"I don't wanna a pickle,
I just wanna ride on my motor-sickle.

And I don't wanna die,
I just wanna ride on my motorcy,

Between Alice's restaurant, and the above song, not to mention a few others, I've always loved Arlo.

Until Pete got too frail for it, Arlo and Pete Seeger used to do an anual joint summer concert outside D.C. at Wolftrap National Park for the Performing Arts.

They sometimes rerun them, during beg-a-thon season, on PBS. If you've never seen one, they're definitely worth checking out.