In 2005, I published a book with Disinformation called 50 American Revolutions You’re Not Supposed To Know: Reclaiming American Patriotism.
Hope you like what you read, for more about me, please check out my blog at www.mickeyz.net.
If you were to open your mouth and belt out the words “this land is your land,” you could rest assured that someone nearby would add: “this land is my land.” The chorus to Woody Guthrie’s 1940 classic is common knowledge … as are the first couple of verses.
But it isn’t until you get to the later verses — the verses often omitted from official versions — that you start comprehendin’ what good ol’ Woody (1912–1967) had in mind:
As I was walkin’ I saw a sign there
And that sign said “No tresspassin’”
But on the other side, it didn’t say nothin’
Now that side was made for you and me
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
Let’s not forget that Guthrie penned the song in response to Irving Berlin’s saccharine “God Bless
America.” Let’s also not forget the words he scrawled on his guitar:
“This machine kills fascists.”
Woody said: “This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin’ it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, ’cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.”
Guthrie laid the foundation for generations of American singer-songwriters to use their lyrics to challenge the saccharine platitudes of pop music. From Bob Dylan in the 1960s to Ani DiFranco today, American folk singers have provided a Greek chorus of protest and outrage to keep us all more honest and aware.
Above: Photo by Al Aumuller, courtesy of the United States Library of Congress
The above is a chapter from 50 American Revolutions You’re Not Supposed To Know: Reclaiming American Patriotism. For more about the author, please check out www.mickeyz.net.