Woody Guthrie – This Land is your Land

This is no big news scoop, but one of America’s most famous folk songs, this one, from 1940… which is often considered a patriotic American anthem… was initially composed by author Woody Guthrie with much more critical words.

One such verse was this:

Was a high wall there that tried to stop me
A sign was painted said: Private Property,
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing
This land was made for you and me.

The last line is now ironic: that an ordinary person lacking financial means was denied freedom to traverse the great land, because others owned it and were sealing it off. (Guthrie may have been sympathetic to the ideology of communism, which endorses the abolition of all private property).

Perhaps most Americans would nonetheless prefer to stick to the conventional, truncated, yet now saccharine version of this 1940 song. A critique, subverted into a glorification, of all that is the United States of America. Given that folk music by definition is not pinned down and tunes evolve, this makes sense. And since Woody, though no angel, had a sense of humour, he’d probably not mind.

A U.S. politician does a terrible cover version: Bernie Sanders


One thought on “Woody Guthrie – This Land is your Land

  1. Pingback: Bernie Sanders – This Land Is Your Land | Political Tunes

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