Tuesday, February 28, 2006

This Land Is Still Your Land

In the last couple of weeks my musings/writings have concerned propaganda and it's effects, intended or not. While I believe it’s important to be able to recognize propaganda for what it is, I have not meant to suggest that it is evil by its nature. Sometimes it’s serving a cause I support, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s off-putting, sometimes it’s engaging. And, yes, sometimes it makes one numb...

In the last couple of days I’ve listened to a CD, “A Tribute to Woody Guthrie,” several times. It broke through my numbness. It made me remember a time when a popular song could be more than a distraction, more than a money-making property. It could be propaganda.

It carried me me back to a time when the music of Woody Guthrie (1912-67), and his folksinger ilk, stirred passions and spoke for people who were accustomed to being ignored. The list of artists on this unusual CD includes a who's who of the late-60s folksinging scene.

Thinking about what those heartfelt songs meant, remembering my own raw youthful feelings concerning what those songs were about, I’ve been Lou Gehrig-ed (tears rolling down cheeks) each time I’ve listened to it. The CD is a compilation from live shows staged at Carnegie Hall (1968) and the Hollywood Bowl (1970). There is nothing I know of out there today that is anything like this. Can you dig it?

"This Land Is Your Land"
by Woody Guthrie (written in February, 1940)

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.