Sunday, January 25, 2009

Seeger And Springsteen Sing Uncut "This Land Is Your Land" At Inauguration

Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen's inspiring Inauguration rendition of "This Land Is Your Land" contained all of the original lyrics, including those once deemed subversive. When it was originally recorded by The Weavers in the 1950s, the folk group left out the controversial lines, points out public interest lawyer and activist John Atlas:

"This Land Is Your Land," written in the shadow of the Great Depression by Woody Guthrie, captured the hurt and hunger endured by ordinary Americans as well as the push back by workers and farmers who organized across the country.

..."This Land is Your Land" recorded in the CD "The Weavers Greatest Hits" left out the provocative left wing verses written by Guthrie, an act of self censorship caused no doubt by the Weavers' fear of being attacked as communists.

Seeger was a member The Weavers, which had a tremendous hit with "Goodnight Irene" in 1950, but were later blacklisted by McCarthy era politicians. Their fortunes revived following a successful New Year's Eve 1955 concert and a popular record based on that performance. The Weavers eventually broke up and Seeger was blacklisted for almost two decades.

Atlas concludes:

Watching Seeger and Springsteen at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, singing the original uncut version of "This Land is Your Land," reminded me what these two have long understood: progressive change requires hope, the joining of different generations and ethnic groups, and an activism infused with the communal joy that comes with shared singing. Who could have known that all my son's generation needed to help bring about the change we need was an African-American community organizer turned authentic political leader, who was capable of inspiring them to action.

Here are the original uncut, subversive words of "This Land is Your Land" as it was sung Sunday at Obama's Inaugural. Feel free to use these words from now on.

"In the squares of the city -
By the shadow of the steeple

By the relief office - I saw my people
As they stood there hungry, I stood there wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me."

Chorus [this land is my land...]

"There was a big high wall there - that tried to stop me;

Sign was painted - it said private property;
But on the other side - it didn't say nothing;

That side was 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."

In recognition of Pete Seeger's political activism in behalf of social justice and peace, his admirers have started a campaign to award him the Nobel Peace Prize, reports The Huffington Post. To sign the petition, click here. (H/t The Quaker Agitator.)


fleud said...

I signed the petition.

Jeff Tone said...

Well done, as did I. If anyone deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, Seeger does.