“This Land Is Your Land” Like Woody Wrote It

At the conclusion of today’s concert for president-elect Barack Obama 89-year-old Pete Seeger joined Bruce Springsteen for a sing-along with perhaps half a million people of Woody Guthrie’s “This Your Land is Your Land,” which I dare say practically everyone in the country knows from childhood.

But sly old Pete, who actually hoboed with Woody during the Depression and Dust Bowl, had the crowd sing the song as it was actually written, as not only a celebration of this great land, but as a demand for workers’ and people’s rights. That is, he restored the verses that have been censored from the song over the years to make it less political:

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;
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.

The “relief office,” of course, refers to the ad hoc soup bowls and such set up during the Depression before the New Deal began to get the social security net we have all depended upon since the 1930s in place.

Seeger, like Guthrie, has been a controversial figure at times during his life, questioned by the witch hunting committees of Congress in the 1950s, black listed, and even banded from television as late as the late 1960s.

But while he hasn’t got much of a voice left anymore and did not attempt to play his banjo today, it was wonderful to see the gleam in his subversive eye as he did his call and response with the throngs in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

Somewhere Woody — and Leadbelly, and Sonny and Cisco and the rest of the great balladeers of that bygone era — are smiling tonight.

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Full Lyrics

This Land Is Your Land
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

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 was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me

Chorus

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

Chorus

The sun comes shining as I was strolling
The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
The fog was lifting a voice come chanting
This land was made for you and me

Chorus

As I was walkin’ – I saw a sign there
And that sign said – no tress passin’
But on the other side …. it didn’t say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

Chorus

In the squares of the city – In the shadow of the
steeple
Near the relief office – I see my people
And some are grumblin’ and some are wonderin’
If this land’s still made for you and me.

Chorus (2x

Tommy Stevenson
Tuscaloosa News
Tuscaloosa News Blogs
politBITS

Republished with permission

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Comments

  1. John (CaptJach) Marra says

    FREE AT LAST!
    FREE AT LAST!
    THANK GOD ALMIGHTY!
    WE’RE FREE AT LAST!

    WE THE PEOPLE
    CAN NOW BE
    WE THE PEOPLE AGAIN!

    I’ve waited since 1963 to see
    this day and never believed it
    could ever happen.
    Thank you
    all for making this day possible.

    Now it’s up to We The People
    to make sure we do our part
    in our new beginning.
    With love
    in our hearts, we can rectify our
    past errors and bring the USA
    back to whom it belongs; US!

    Obama can’t do this alone and
    this is not his victory.
    It is OUR
    responsibility!

    THANK YOU!
    THANK YOU!
    THANK YOU!

    I LOVE YOU :)

    Peace,
    CaptJach

  2. Javier Gonzalez says

    These are not the full lyrics. This song talks about conquest and imperialism. From Montezeuma . . . This is a song about manifest destiny. I can’t deny that it is not patriotic and draws in people a sense of national pride. But for Millions of native people and people of latin america this song means “We run this Continent. Period!”

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