American Icons: This Land is Your Land
Friday, March 16, 2012
This is the national anthem we actually know the words to. Americans sing it at school and summer camp; Bruce Springsteen sang it at President Obama's inauguration. Yet Woody Guthrie's song was once branded anti-American, even Communist.
Pete Seeger tells Kurt Andersen how Guthrie wrote it as a sarcastic response to "God Bless America," and soul singer Sharon Jones explains what the song means to her as a descendant of slaves. Leftist, environmentalist, nationalist, or patriotic — "This Land" allows everyone to sing it their way. We find out why some controversial lines about private property disappeared, and hear the song in Swedish, Hebrew, and Ojibwa.
→ More “Land:” Kurt visits Pete Seeger at home and Sharon Jones describes the special meaning the lyrics hold for her — all on our American Icons feature page.
(Originally aired October 1, 2010)
This Land is Your LandArtist: Woody GuthrieAlbum: This Land is Your Land: The Asch Recordings, Vol. 1Label: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
This Land is Your LandArtist: Sharon Jones & the Dap KingsAlbum: Naturally