This Land is Your Land

“This Land is Your Land” (Woody Guthrie, 1944). Woody Guthrie wrote this song in response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”, which Guthrie thought was too self-righteous and unrealistic. Guthrie titled the original version “God Blessed America” before he reworked the lyrics and changed the title. The song was recorded in 1944; since then it has been sung and recorded by a legion of artists. Some of us remember singing this song in our elementary school music classes before music was considered superfluous for education. “This Land is Your Land” is a joyous protest against anyone who thinks this great country belongs to them. As Bruce Springsteen put it, this is perhaps the greatest song ever written about “our home”. We include here Springsteen’s singing of this beautiful anthem at Barack Obama’s Inauguration in 2009, along with 93-year old Pete Seeger and his grandson. Seeger, who passed away just last year, traveled with Guthrie through many of the places described in the song.