There are many fold songs that go unheard. But when you go back to the roots of folk music, there is one that most every American recognizes. “This Land Is Your Land” has been a staple of Americana for nearly 75 years. The lyrics start off by giving a visual image of the vastness of America. It mentions California and the New York Island which focuses on the widest breadth of the country. Then it mentions the Redwood Forest (Which is also in California), and the Gulf Stream waters which are two easily recognizable features that are unique to America.
While reminding the listener in the first line that this land is both theirs and his, and in the last line of the chorus that the land was not only theirs but it was made for them. In the first verse, Woody begins to depict what he sees as he walks down the highway. He sees an endless sky above him, a golden valley below him. Then he again reiterates that this land was made for everyone. He continues this portrait in the second verse by stating that he has roamed and rambled to this country’s sandy deserts.
While he was there her could hear voices saying that this land was made for everyone. So all throughout the land he can’t help but think that this land belongs to everyone; that it was made for us to work and live on. In the third verse, Woody is walking through wheat fields while dust clouds are rolling. The fog is starting to lift as the sun comes up and again, this pristine moment just yells that this land was made for everyone. Then he repeats the chorus which brings back into mind the vastness of this country and how radical the land changes.
This is the song we have all heard, and most of us have sang for some sort of celebration during our elementary school years. But recently it has been found that the original recording of the song has three verses that have been omitted from the popular recording. The first verse that was omitted speaks of a big wall that is trying to stop Woody from going any farther down this road. There was a sign that was painted and said “private property. ” Woody points out that there was nothing written on the other side.
The other side of that sign was made for everyone, he says. So he is saying that the other side of that sign is equally everyones and nobody has a right to keep certain people out. He goes on to say in the next verse that nobody that is living can ever stop him as he is walking down the freedom highway. Nobody living can ever make him turn back, because this land was made for everyone. He is just saying that he will not give up just because it is hard. When the land was MADE for everyone, he is not going to stop until he has reached it.
The last verse that is kept out of the song is without a doubt the very best one. It says that he has seen his people in the squares of the city and in the shadow of a steeple, beside the relief office they are standing hungry. This brought to mind the question to Woody, after everything that he had seen, was this land really made for everyone? After seeing all this beautiful country, he thought that there was no reason that anyone couldn’t be where they wanted to be and do what they wanted to do. It seemed to him that the land was made for everyone.
But then he realizes, that in the most popular and booming sections of the city, there are people lining up that the relief office to get help because they can’t make a living on their own anymore. They are in the shadow of a church steeple meaning that it doesn’t matter your religion that it isn’t going to put food in your stomach. These people are hungry in the street. Woody calls them, “his people. ” He implies that he is one of these people or at least has been one of them. And he wants to see something done about it because it is not right.