“This Land Is Your Land”
1944, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Woody Guthrie’s patriotic anthem began as a protest
During a six-week leave from the Merchant Marine in World War II, Woody Guthrie recorded an astonishing 167 songs. This version of his pointed response to what he viewed as the complacency of “God Bless America” contained a radical, anti-capitalism verse that was later cut: “Was a big high wall there that tried to stop me / A sign was painted said: Private Property.” The song was not a hit until counterculture folk artists—including Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary—picked it up in the 1960s. But Guthrie, in deteriorating health, never really knew how famous his song became.