- In 1940, Woody Guthrie wrote This Land is Your Land because he was tired of the radio overplaying Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” which he thought was unrealistic and complacent. [wikipedia]
- The tune for the song was taken from a gospel hymn “When the world’s on fire” recorded by the Carter Family in 1930.
- A verse that is normally left out when performed…
Was a high wall there that tried to stop me
A sign was painted said: Private Property
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing
That side was made for you and me.
- Another verse that is normally not sung…
One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple
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?
- Various artists who have performed the song include: Bob Dylan, The Kingston Trio, the Limeliters, Pete Seeger, Peter Paul and Mary, and Bruce Springsteen
- The song was most recently sung by Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger (with the usually omitted verses intact) during President Obama’s Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial
- The soundtrack to the movie Hard travelin’ includes an original recording of Woody Guthrie singing the song with his son Arlo Guthrie digitally mixed in to sing the omitted verses as taught to him by his father.
- Guthrie’s original “copyright” on his song reads:
This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin’ it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.
- Woody Guthrie was born on July 14, 1912, in Okemah, Oklahoma. Guthrie was disabled by and died of Huntington’s disease which ended his life in 1967.
- A Woody Guthrie quote [woodyguthrie.org],
“A folk song is what’s wrong and how to fix it or it could be
who’s hungry and where their mouth is or
who’s out of work and where the job is or
who’s broke and where the money is or
who’s carrying a gun and where the peace is.”
Freedom Song by Mary Turck is available at Reach and Teach