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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
DonMeixner This land is WHOSE land? (117* d) RE: This land is WHOSE land? 17 Jul 20

I think this discussion is firmly in category 1 even if we veer off course a little. I think we are discussing the permanent and ephemeral nature of songs.

I wondered if Woody was writing with the notion that his songs were meant to be topical and lasting no longer than the problems they addressed or something permanent. Grand Coulee Dam is a bit of a relic but Do-Re-Me is a historic portrait of a slice of history.

It didn't to much searching to find this quote from Acoustic Guitar Magazine.

Guthrie set down the words to “When the Saints Go Marching In” and added some thoughts on the qualities that drew him to songs. An old spiritual like “Saints,” he wrote, has three things that “a good song has got to have afore it is beloved forever by the People. First is Simplicity, so everyman and woman in the world can sing them from the top of their spirit and to the bottom of their heart. Next is Naturalness—without no pretense—no sham—no finery . . . Third—Truth—that will be recognized by every singer, rich and pore, educated and illiterate. These old Hillcountry Gospel Songs has them three unbeatable qualities that make ’em live forever: Simplicity. Naturalness. Truth. Can you beat it?”

I don't believe he felt everything would have been written for permanence. But certainly we have kept some of his songs alive and vital either because they are beautifully written glimpses into Woody's life and time or they address a need that never seems to go away.

I listen to this song, This Land..., and I think the "You and me!" Are the same people Tom Joad talks about in the "Cop beatin' up a guy" speach, The Everyman. And now I suppose, The Every Person. Because a White Man is writing this song it doesn't necessarily just mean White People. Woody embraced everyone, everywhere.

Woody had no tolerance for racism.

"Woody simply had no patience for the legacy of racism derived from what historian C. Van Woodward so memorably termed “The Peculiar Institution” of slavery. When he brought his black friends and fellow musicians Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee to a fundraiser for American troops during WWII, only to be told that his friends would need to enter through the back door, Woody promptly strolled up to the refreshments table, grabbed the edge of the table cloth, and ripped it out from under the Champagne bottles and fruit and salad bowls decorating it, before picking up a gallon bottle of wine, circling it threateningly around his head like Will Rogers rolling out a lariat, and telling the assembled crowd, “This war against fascism has got to start right here—in our own back yard.” Then Woody, Sonny and Brownie all left together—through the front door."

Do a simple search, say Woody Guthrie on Song Writing, and you will find much about the man. Try searching Woody Guthrie and Marriage and the halo tarnishes a little.

Does the song need to be up-dated? We have discussed this before on many other songs. And I believe Woody has already said Go Ahead.


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