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Woody Guthrie’s "This Land is Your Land"

Folk legend Woody Guthrie at 100 and his timeless song, “This Land is Your Land.”

This undated file photo shows folk singer Woody Guthrie playing his guitar and singing.  (AP)

This undated file photo shows folk singer Woody Guthrie playing his guitar and singing. (AP)

Woody Guthrie wrote “This Land is Your Land” in a nothing-special hotel in New York, in the middle of writing a bunch of other songs. Wrote it longhand in a child’s school composition notebook. It sat in that notebook for years. It’s not clear he thought much of it.

But it got out, into school songbooks around the country. And took off, like a second national anthem. This land is your land, this land is my land, from California, to the New York island.

This hour, On Point: in the centennial year of Guthrie’s birth, the deep story behind the song.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guest

Robert Santelli, co-director of the Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration and executive director of the Grammy Museum. He’s the author of This Land is Your Land: Woody Guthrie and the Journey of an American Folksong.

John McCutcheon, a folk musician, he released an album of all-Woody Guthrie music, This Land: Woody Guthrie’s America.

Tom Morello, Grammy-award winning guitarist and songwriter who has palyed “This Land Is Your Land” at Occupy movements around the country. Best-known for his work with Rage Against The Machine, he has also played with Audioslave, Street Sweeper Social Club, and the acoustic solo act Nightwatchman.

From Tom’s Reading List

Tulsa World “It’s simple enough that children can sing it – Guthrie’s daughter Nora first learned the song when it was used at her Brooklyn elementary school in lieu of the more musically challenging “The Star-Spangled Banner” at assemblies.”

L.A. Times “As much as anything he tried to do with his music and in his life, Woody Guthrie consistently stressed the “unity” in “community,” an attitude that was fully embraced by some three dozen participants in Saturday’s kickoff event in a yearlong national and international salute to the legacy of America’s greatest folk troubadour, who would have turned 100 on July 14.”

MTV “Woody Guthrie was the most important American folk music artist of the first half of the 20th century, in part because he turned out to be such a major influence on the popular music of the second half of the 20th century, a period when he himself was largely inactive.”

Video: This Land Is Your Land

Hear Woody Guthrie sing his iconic song in this video.

Video: Tom Morello Plays ‘This Land’

Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello plays Woody’s song in this video.

Lyrics: This Land Is Your Land 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.

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.

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?

Playlist

“This Land Is Your Land” (short version) Moses Asch Recordings
“This Land is Your Land” by (This Land is Your Land Karaoke)
“Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad” by Alan Lomax Recordings
“Vigilante Man” by Alan Lomax Recordings
Pretty Boy Floyd” by Alan Lomax Recordings
“When the World’s On Fire” by The Carter Family
“God Bless America” by (CBS’s “The Kate Smith Hour”, 1938)
“Jesus Christ” Moses Asch Recordings
“This Land is Your Land” (LIVE) by Tom Morello
“The Ghost of Tom Joad” by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Morello
“Song to Woody” by Bob Dylan
“1913 Massacre” by John McCutcheon
“This Land Is You Land” 2008 Inauguration by Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger
“This Land is Your Land” (LIVE) by Children’s Concert, Pete Seeger 1962

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