Forgotten Verses From “This Land is Your Land”

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.

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Photo: Al Aumuller

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.

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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.

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  • Cerebralcaustic

    “Few recognize that the rise of fascism and Marxism was not a reaction against the socialist trends of the
    preceding period but a necessary outcome of those tendencies. … Fascism is the stage reached after communism has proved an illusion…”

    F.A. Hayek, THE ROAD TO SERFDOM
    (condensed version, published in the Reader’s Digest,
    April 1945 edition)

    http://www.iea.org.uk/files/upld-publication43p

    • John Brown

      The very fact a quote from Reader's Digest was selected (in the height of the delusion and paranoia of '45) to respond to a posting on Guthrie is… well… pathetic. It seems that whatever inbred teaparty idiot who fetched this gem was hoping there would be a mass contact high in reaction to the crack chimera of a Fasco-Commie-Homo-Green plot. BTW Hayek is a F*&CKN hack. G Dubs granted him a presidential medal. This posting is EXACTLY why this article was put up, because people like Woody Guthrie should be models of “patriotism” (I prefer solidarity). Sadly, someone decides to throw up a quote from an Austrian cartel capitalist goon.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/75UEU5CCX3MODRFWYO2AYN3QIA Mark

    “The Asch Recordings Vol.1″ includes one recorded version with the following verse:

    “Was a big high wall there that tried to stop me/ A sign was painted said: Private Property./
    But on the back side it didn't say nothing–/This land was made for you and me.”

    It also includes the subversive tracks “Philadelphia Lawyer,” “Lindbergh,” and “Jesus Christ.”

    I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Woody Guthrie or the voice of the working-class left of his time period.

    Oh, and Cerebralcaustic…every true cynic knows that fascist movements have left- and right-wing elements–misanthropes from both ends of the “euclidean” politcal spectrum are involved in such movements. That's why us model skeptics don't trust the right or the left and their outdated linear views.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/75UEU5CCX3MODRFWYO2AYN3QIA Mark

    “The Asch Recordings Vol.1″ includes one recorded version with the following verse:

    “Was a big high wall there that tried to stop me/ A sign was painted said: Private Property./
    But on the back side it didn't say nothing–/This land was made for you and me.”

    It also includes the subversive tracks “Philadelphia Lawyer,” “Lindbergh,” and “Jesus Christ.”

    I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Woody Guthrie or the voice of the working-class left of his time period.

    Oh, and Cerebralcaustic…every true cynic knows that fascist movements have left- and right-wing elements–misanthropes from both ends of the “euclidean” politcal spectrum are involved in such movements. That's why us model skeptics don't trust the right or the left and their outdated linear views.

  • tonyviner

    People tend to forget that the writer of the Pledge of Allegiance was a Socialist, too.

  • Iamthisillusion

    Take that Metallica!

  • Iamthisillusion

    Take that Metallica!