Woody Guthrie - "This Land Is Your Land"
Disses: Irving Berlin
As one of the most enduring songs from one of America's great songwriters, Woody Guthrie, "This Land Is Your Land" is one of the most covered celebrated entries in the American songbook. In its most widely known form--showcased on first published version of the song in 1944 and taught to countless schoolchildren across the states--it reads largely as a celebration of America, its land and its culture.
The original version, written in 1940, reveals a far different reality, containing two subsequently omitted verses about private property, poverty, and hunger.
The pointed political observations of the 1940 version (which you can hear below) came as a response to Irving Berlin's jingoistic "God Bless America," which Guthrie considered a foolish vision of the United States. Written out of frustration with having to hear "God Bless America" on the radio, Guthrie penned "This Land Is Your Land" (originally titled "God Blessed America"), striking back at Berlin's unwavering patriotism with a vision both critical and celebratory.