Tuesday, June 12, 2012

12 June 2012 Not quite what Woody intended

Original 1944 lyrics
“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.

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;
This land was made for you and me.[7]
Woody Guthrie has a variant:
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?”

          Irving Berlin wrote “God Bless America.  Woody Guthrie grew tired of hearing Kate Smith sing it over the radio.  “This land is the result.
          I can’t begin to list all the popular singers who have covered the song on albums or in live performance.  Along with Ochs’ “Power and Glory,” it ranks as one of the most powerful anthems to the America that won WWII, the America that welcomed Emma Lazarus’ New Colossus immigrants, the America that grew strong by providing a free public education system to elevate the poor into the middle class. 
          I’ve been fortunate enough to meet Arlo Guthrie and to hear him talk about his perceptions of his parents and their political beliefs and goals.  The view of America offered by Woody Guthrie and his friends and family is my kind of America.  It is an America that cares for its ill and injured, feeds and houses its poor, and it is an America in which every citizen’s voice and vote are supposed to be heard. 
          Much the night I’ve sat around a campfire talking to young Boy Scouts about “This Land.”  All it took was a guitar and the willingness to celebrate the words of a great American.   It’s much harder now, to get scouts to sing.  There interests and their taste in music have changed markedly from mine all those decades ago. 
          Arlo, back in the days of vinyl records reminded us that we have to sing loudly to end the war (VietNam for you younger folks).  We’re at war today.  We’re shooting people and being shot by people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, on our own soil, and more likely than not, in Syria and Iran.  However, the bigger war, the most important war, the war we absolutely have to win, is the war against the Wall Street robbers who nearly destroyed the global economy with their greed in 1929, and who nearly did it again in 2008.  And if we don’t stop their depredations, if we don’t limit their ability to steal from us all with computers and lies, they will find a way to destroy all our savings, our schools, our access to health care, and our access to the ballot box. 
          The greedy bastard in Congress and the even more greedy bastards that buy them are singing too.  They’re singing a different song, one with twisted hateful words.


We need to sing more loudly!


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