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February 23

Woody Guthrie

Guthrie wasn’t shy telling the world in his lyrics (or painted on his guitar) what he thought of the politicians and political parties.

Woody Guthrie, Photo by Al Aumuller, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-130859.

1940: Music of the People, For the People
Woody Guthrie writes “This Land is Your Land”
The great folk singer Woody Guthrie communicated his messages of social justice and human equality through his music. Living as he did through everything from the Great Depression to the Cold War, Guthrie commented on these and other events’ effects on everyday people, like the hunger many faced in the Dust Bowl years.

“This Land is Your Land” was written in response to the themes of “God Bless America” by Irving Berlin; Guthrie considered that patriotic song to be out of touch with the cares and joys of common folks. When he created the song, he borrowed the melody of an old hymn called “O My Loving Brother” and set his own words to it.

Guthrie didn’t record “This Land is Your Land” until 1943, but he tinkered with the verses over the years, adding new words here and there.
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