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This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is…

The convergence of a couple things got me thinking about Woody Guthrie‘s famous “This Land Is Your Land” folk song that we all grow up with. In elementary school it’s practically ingrained in us as a mantra and subsequently there are probably few who don’t remember at least the refrain:

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.

However, curiously very few of us know some additional verses that were part of the original that are a fair bit more subversive:

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me
Sign was painted, it said private property
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing
That side was made for you and me.

and:

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?

Those were “expunged” or rather “censored” for the protection of our little minds (to note, there are a couple of variations on the above, but the “subversive” intent remains).

There is something a little sick in co-opting what might be seen as going against the mainstream of political thought for mainstream political patriotism. It’s almost as if you were to find out the great Founding Father’s really didn’t believe in fundamentalist Christianity – oh, wait

Anyway, if you’re wondering what the convergence of events were in my first sentence, well it was me reading the excellent and topical screed, “This Land Is Your Their Land” by Barbara¬† Ehrenreich and my son spontaneously spouting off the jingle curiously co-dependently (of course I have to admit I could have hummed it or something first – odd how we don’t remember those things).

So, “Is this land made for you and me?” I don’t know. It’s a good question I think we should all be thinking about in these difficult times.

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