Sunday, November 13, 2005

Is this land made for you and me?

The Library of Congress's National Recording Preservation Board's listing of "This Land" as an entry in the 2002 Registry of historical recordings brought to the public some almost forgotten verses. These often ignored lyrics change the folky chestnut from a patriotic ditty sung by Elks Lodge members and Cub Scouts alike to what Woody really intended: a populist call to arms, a gentle, witty tirade against fascism and concentration of wealth. In short, a socialist manifesto with a clear nod to the civil disobedience of the coming civil rights movement.

Read especially the forgotten 5th and 6th verses. Their message is as clear and as relevant today as it was when the song was written in the '40s.

Read the whole list of songs and recordings. This is real rock and roll: music that changed the world, from Robert Johnson to Scott Joplin; Booker T. Washington speaking and William Jennings Bryan's "Cross of Gold" speech. This is the sound of history, of guitars, drums, and dreams crashing together in a cacophony of noise and ideas. These are recordings that will live long after the world has forgotten GWBush, Creed, Pat Robertson, Britney Spears, Andrea Bocelli, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Gene Scott, Sean Hannity, Pope Joey Ratz, Celine Dion, Chris Matthews, Tom DeLay, Scott McClellan, Barry Bonds, John McCain, Ricky Martin, Jerry Falwell, Kyra Phillips, Nance Grace, Joe Lieberman, Tony Blair, Vladimir Putin, Tim Russert, Pete Rose, Donald Trump, Ricard Perle, Kenneth Starr, Bob Novak, and so many many more.

Rejoice that we have these triumphs, large and small, to listen to, to remember how we got where we are. At the end of the day, it's ALL about the music.

This Land Is Your Land

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was 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've roamed and rambled and I 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.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
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.

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.

© Copyright 1956 (renewed), 1958 (renewed), 1970 and 1972 LUDLOW MUSIC, INC, NYC