Wednesday, July 4, 2018

"This land is your land," is not a patriotic song.

If you are a attending Fourth of July event, you may hear a medley of songs bound to include The Battle Hymn of the Republic, America the Beautiful, God Bless America and a bunch of Sousa marches.  Often thrown into the mix will be This Land is Your Land. It is very singable and rousing. If you don't listen to the words you may think This Land .. is appropriate.  However, it is not a patriotic song. It appears to be call for socialism or nationalizing the land or at least intended to sow discontent. It was written by Woody Guthrie who was a Communist. Here are the lyrics.

[Verse 1]
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

[Verse 2]
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

[Verse 3]
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

[Verse 4]
As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said "No trespassin'"
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

[Verse 5]
 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]
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

 I have found that most people do not pay attention to lyrics and don't know the meaning of the songs they sing. I have been at a wedding were the initial dance of the newly wed couple was danced to a song that was not really a love song but a break-up song that involved infidelity but it sounded like a love song.  Born in the USA, is also not a patriotic song. It is a very anti-American song yet I saw it used as bumper music at a Republican convention.

Since few people know the meaning of This Land,  the song does no harm. Also most performances would not get to verse 4 and 5 where the song's meaning becomes more clear. Maybe it is a good thing the song has been appropriated as a patriotic song. If is produces patriotic feelings, then the joke is on commie Woody Gurthie who is probably spinning in his grave. 

While I would not make an issue out of it if the song is included in a medley of patriotic songs, if I was the program chair selecting the music, I would leave it off the list.

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