From:   Gabriel Johnson <>
Sent time:   Sunday, October 16, 2011 1:32:38 PM
Subject:   Re: [september17discuss] this land is your land

Megatwinkles; also, "This Land" is good because the tune and most of the lyrics are well known even to those of us who are decidedly not red diaper babies and haven't been that active in activist singing circles (we learned it as kids in my public school in suburban NJ).


On Sun, Oct 16, 2011 at 3:15 PM, Doug Singsen <> wrote:
The assumption that "This Land Is Your Land" is written from a middle-class white perspective is not accurate. Guthrie was part of a multi-racial group of musicians who traveled the country performing together in the forties and fifties, during the Jim Crow era. Two of the most prominent members of this group were the Black musicians Lead Belly and Sonny Terry. And Guthrie was hardly writing from a middle-class perspective - he dedicated his life to supporting poor farmers and workers and was a member of the Communist Party, which did extensive organizing against racism during this period, from the Scottsboro Boys and anti-lynching campaigns to anti-eviction campaigns in Harlem to building multiracial sharecroppers' organizations in the South. I can see how the title and chorus sound like a call for colonization, but that is not at all what its or Guthrie's politics are about. However, I do agree that we shouldn't limit ourselves just to the "oldies but goodies." We need to develop a musical repertoire that looks like the 99% - new songs as well as old ones, from as many genres as possible.


On Sun, Oct 16, 2011 at 1:38 PM, <> wrote:
It's important tho to also think about how this song sounds from the
perspective of colonization. If this will be a disenfranchised, mainly
white, middle class movement that's only addressing the issues pertinent
to that sliver of the 99% than maybe that won't be a problem. But
otherwise we'd do better to dig deeper for songs that resonate with all.

And it's not that I don't think "This Land is Your Land" is a beautiful
song. It even has interesting variants for this particular setting, such
as this verse:
"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;
This land was made for you and me."

But let's dig deeper for something that can really resonate with a broader
sector of the 99%!

> "This Land is Your Land" is a particularly appropriate choice for this
> moment in history.  As you may know it was written " in response to Irving
> Berlin's "God Bless America", which Guthrie considered unrealistic and
> complacent. Tired of hearing Kate Smith sing it on the radio, he wrote a
> response originally called "God Blessed America for Me". Guthrie varied
> the
> lyrics over time, sometimes including more overtly political verses than
> appear in recordings or publications.
> On Sunday, October 16, 2011, Liliana Gomez <> wrote:
>> Thanks for the great lyrics, hadn't heard/remebered them in a long time
>> Lili G
>> On Sun, Oct 16, 2011 at 1:03 PM, Marina Sitrin <>
> wrote:
>>> Yes!!!! Not only because I grew up on this sort of music (radical
>>> parents) but that song is so transformative and unifying in spaces.
>>> Songs are a part of most social movements around the world, and have
>>> been a part of US movements historically as well. (Civil Rights, labor
>>> - including IWW, predating the AFLCIO, women, anti nuke, and on and on
>>> - we have a lot to choose from)
>>> I would love to begin or end our assemblies with a song.
>>> Marina
>>> On Sun, Oct 16, 2011 at 12:35 PM,
>>> <> wrote:
>>> > Yesterday during the march to Times Square, and then again in
> Washington
>>> > Square Park, folks broke out into "This Land is Your Land" by Woodie
>>> > Guthrie. This made me happy, both because it's a great song and
>>> because
> I
>>> > had already been thinking that one way to diversify our message is
>>> not
> only
>>> > to think of new chants, but also to start using more songs.
>>> > I was trying to remember the final verses which are SO relevant to
>>> OWS,
> but
>>> > couldn't at the moment. Here they are. Let's use them on future
> marches!
>>> >
>>> > 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 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 still made for you and me
>>> >
>>> --
>>> Seamos realistas, hagamos lo imposible ~ che