July 4, 2018, This Land is Made for You and Me

Chorus
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.

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 saw my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking

Is this land made for you and me?

“This Land Is Your Land” is one of the United States’ most famous folk songs. Its lyrics were written by Woody Guthrie in 1940 based on an existing melody, in response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”, which Guthrie considered complacent and not realistically critical of America – Of course, Irving Berlin was an immigrant and a case can be made that many immigrants so love their new countries that they are very non-critical. Others are fearful to even whisper a complaint. Guthrie varied the lyrics over time, sometimes including more overtly political verses depending on the occasion.

One thing that I consider very interesting is how this song itself travels … in Canada, it goes like this …

This land is your land, This land is my land,
From Bonavista, to Vancouver Island
From the Arctic Circle to the Great Lakes waters,
This land was made for you and me.

And in the United Kingdom , the lyrics are:

This land is your land, this land is my land,
From the coast of Cornwall to the Scottish Highlands,
From the sacred forests to the holy islands …

Of course there are separate versions for both Wales and Ireland!
In the Bahamas …

This land is your land, this land is my land,
From Grand Bahama down to Inagua
From the Berry Islands, down to Mayaguana …

In Aotearoa New Zealand written by high school students …

This land is your land, this land is my land
From Paihia to Stewart Island
From Lake Te Anau to Rotorua …

There are versions for Sweden and Namibia and Israel and India, Here is India:

This land is your land, this land is my land,
From the Himalayas, down to Cape Comorin
From Mumbai city to old Calcutta
This land was made for you and me.

Back to the United States — For July 4, 2018

This land is my land, I won’t deny it –
I name the sorrows, but I’m not above it —
from the Trail of Tears to the Middle Passage
the pain of others profits me.

From Charlottesville to blood soaked high schools,
from families shattered to travel ban rules,
when a pipeline crosses a sovereign nation
the chance of change comes down to me.

And so for Bears Ears and Tornillo’s tent street,
for Melania’s jacket and Roseanne’s harsh tweet —
I am confessing, I’ve dropped the blessing —
maybe not you, but surely me!

Across our borders the walls are rising.
Lawmakers’ votes show compromising.
The songs are old but we’re harmonizing –
our children’s hope is you and me.

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.

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