This week’s songs from grammar school have turned out to be better than I had expected. And we are going to end by listening to perhaps the best: “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie.
He wrote the song in response to “God Bless America” by Irving Berlin. Guthrie apparently considered the song complacent. I’ve always found it somewhat nationalistic, although it does have the line “guide her” — something most Americans would think unnecessary. “This Land Is Your Land” is an obvious liberal anthem because it is aspirational.
But one verse of the song is generally removed, which makes it much more political. The original sixth verse is:
By the Relief Office I saw my people —
As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering if
This land was made for you and me.
We didn’t sing that verse in public school.