Bruce Springsteen, "This Land is Your Land"

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yuc4BI5NWU&fmt=18]
A truly great video of Bruce Springsteen doing one of the greatest (or as Springsteen says, the greatest) songs about America ever written, This Land is Your Land. No matter what you think of Springsteen, I think you have to admit that this is one Hell of a killer rendition. I like it better than Guthrie’s original and a lot of the folkie renditions by Pete Seeger, Alto Guthrie and others.
The song was written by Leftist (Communist, really) Woody Guthrie in February 1940. This is one of those songs that really captures the essence of what America is really all about.
It’s a song that all real Americans, that means not only Whites but Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and any other assimilated groups, should embrace. If you can’t embrace this song because your heart is still stuck in Calcutta or Tijuana or Guatemala City or San Salvador or wherever, you’re not assimilated. That’s all there is to it.
Springsteen’s albums, especially from the 1980’s, really hearken back to a working class White American heartland that seems to be dead and gone.
Driving through California towns that have been turned by the 100’s into Tijuana or San Salvador, the last thing I want to sing is This Land is Your Land. If there was another version called This Land is Not Your Land, I would sing that instead. Increasingly, this feels like elegiac requiem from an America gone and never to return. Oh well, we still have memories, some of us do anyway.
It’s a beautiful song anyway, and it’s actually a very leftwing song (hardly anyone ever seems to recognize this), especially the “forgotten lyrics”, one stanza of which Springsteen revives for this rendition. Most Americans have never heard of the “forgotten stanzas” since they are never sung in the version taught to schoolkids.
Most people have not analyzed this song very well. In order to do so, you need to understand Guthrie’s life, for the song is actually autobiographical. It was written during WW2, but it is about events that took place 9 years earlier when he was 19 years old. Guthrie left  Texas in the midst of the Dust Bowl that laid millions of acres of prime farmland to waste.
The refugees moved West to California, in particular the Central Valley farming region, where they became known as the “Okies.” There are still many White descendants of these Okies here in the Central Valley where I live. They are sort of “redneck” and working class, but I don’t mind them that much.
There is one that lives in my apartment complex and at first I did not like him too much. I complained to a Black female friend about him, and she said, “Oh, he’s an Okie! They’re worse than niggers!
The movement of Okies to the Central Valley was not an easy one and it was memorialized for all time in John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. Steinbeck is one of the all-time great California writers and Grapes is a fantastic American novel.
It was also made into a film but I never checked it out. But check out the book Grapes if you ever get a chance. Steinbeck also wrote some other acclaimed books, but I forget if I read them or not. They all dealt with California.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

This stanza is simply a paean to America and in particular its natural beauty.

As I went 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.

This stanza is about Guthrie and his young wife heading out from Oklahoma to California along the famous Highway 66, a great American highway long memorialized in many folk, country, country-rock, rockabilly, etc. songs. The golden valley was California’s Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions on Earth.

I roamed and I rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
While all around me a voice was sounding
Saying this land was made for you and me.

This stanza is again about the trek from Oklahoma to California. The “sparkling sands of her diamond deserts” refers to the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona that the highway passes through.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
A voice was chanting, As the fog was lifting,
This land was made for you and me.

This part is a little hard to understand. “…The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling” must refer to the wheat fields of Oklahoma and the dust clouds of the Dust Bowl. But this line, “A voice was chanting, As the fog was lifting” must refer to California. There’s a lot of fog in the Central Valley of California, and there is not much fog in Oklahoma, unless maybe you are near a lake.

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.

This is one of the famous “missing stanzas” that (with variations) is not often played, but sometimes it is, especially by the folkies. This is obviously a Commie dig at private property rights in the US. Such rights were particularly belligerently enforced in 1930’s America, when labor and environmental laws basically did not even exist.

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

This stanza is almost never heard, but it sounds pretty nice. The second half of it below is a lot more common.

In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;
By the relief office, I’d seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me?

This is a very radical verse, apparently referring to the relief offices patronized by the Okies in Depression-era California. It’s interesting that almost no Americans have ever heard of these lines. This stanza is played by Springsteen, to his credit, above.

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20 thoughts on “Bruce Springsteen, "This Land is Your Land"”

  1. “It’s a song that all real Americans, that means not only Whites but Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and any other assimilated groups, should embrace. If you can’t embrace this song because your heart is still stuck in Calcutta or Tijuana or Guatemala City or San Salvador or wherever, you’re not assimilated. That’s all there is to it.”
    Since this riptide of the retched unwashed are encouraged to “Celebrate Diversity” instead of assimilate why would they bother to listen to overproduced Bruce Springsteen covers of old Woody Guthrie labor anthems?! They’ve heard enough of that patriotic shit in Mosul. Go into any ethnic grocery store in America and you will find wall of CDs and cassette tapes. This what the new America listens to. You’ve got old fashioned ideas about the Left. After I saw East Europe (and commie Kerala State in South India) I wanted to go home and beat Pete Seeger to death with his own banjo.

    1. I view Bruce Springsteen as a slimeball similar to Jane Fonda. Born in the U.S.A is without a doubt among the most outrageous betrayals and portyayals of this country I have ever heard publicised. The unfortunate circumstance is most people see the title, hear the music but pay no attention to the condescending lyrics this traitor belts out in concerts and in media thereby enabling him to make his political statement loud, broad and far.
      Makes me wonder about this new offering. Because he is a mental midget I’m certain in his eyes it now appears by virtue of his consternation we have changed. Jackass.

  2. heg: Bruce is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO … fucking bOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO booooooooooooooooooooring

  3. These words are often left out when school kids sing the song:
    “As I was walkin’ – I saw a sign there
    And that sign said – no tress passin’
    But on the other side …. it didn’t say nothin!
    Now that side was made for you and me!”

  4. I like the way you turn it left-racist but if you want to see how a real folkie does Guthrie you could have gone to Donovan’s live concert Guthrie-honoring “I Aint’ Got No Home” which was removed from YT a few months ago. Probably can still be viewed somewhere. Donovan is a virtuoso on vocal guitar and harmonica when he wants to be and Springsteen—well his heart might be in the right place.

  5. Donovan… He’s fab until he starts going on about the Maharishi. Then he turns into a sap. I pretty much like everything Donovan has ever done, but I can’t stand the cloying pre-song patter now. I was just listening to a good song from the Donovan Folk Rock album last evening which put me in the mood for some Steeleye Span. They were the greatest. The thing to remember about Commie folk music is that it’s song by and for dupes. There has never been a civilized classless society and there never will be one. No “Big Rock Candy Mountain” for anybody except the nomenklatura. It’s a Talmudic swindle. 70% of the world’s billionaires (the ones that we know of, anyway) are Left leaning George Soros type picklesnoots. Before he died Howard Hughes had figured out a way to get his charities to turn a profit for him. He and Robert Mayhew laughed all the way to the bank about this and they were just a couple of dumb goyim compared to today’s turbo do gooders.

  6. Got this from someone at YouTube. This is a real commi-killer. Stalin sold strategic raw material to Hitler. One of the biggest commi lies is that communism saved the world from Hitler. The communist helped Hitler. l have heard about this befor and l have been looking for the info. Now l got it and go where the sun don’t shine all commi-#€%/.
    Now all the commis are finished once and for all. There is not one single commi that can tell this info away.
    In wikipedia You find many sources atached to Nazi German and Soviet cooperation. It`s good for start because there is many links and sources to this topic.
    First most known is of course:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molotov%E2%80%93Ribbentrop_Pact
    Few days after was signed in Berlin:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German%E2%80%93Soviet_Commercial_Agreement_(1939)
    and started:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi%E2%80%93Soviet_economic_relations
    After German and Sovet Invasion on Poland in 1939 was signed:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German%E2%80%93Soviet_Treaty_of_Friendship,_Cooperation_and_Demarcation
    In 1939-1940 took place:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestapo-NKVD_Conferences
    In 1940 next Commercial Agreement was signed:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German%E2%80%93Soviet_Commercial_Agreement_(1940)
    In 1941:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German%E2%80%93Soviet_Border_and_Commercial_Agreement

  7. The “deep”Donovan has actually been more Buddhist than Maharishi which is kind of (commercially diluted) Shankara, (Advaita Vedanta.) He gave big $ to a certain Bhutanese line of monks and visited the monastery periodically. As Donovan put it in comparing himself to George Harrison, the latter preferred the original Bhakti (devotional) Path, emphasizing the Vedas. Whereas Donovan developed an affinity for the Drukpa School of Buddhism.
    http://country-studies.com/bhutan/buddhism.html
    “The majority of Bhutan’s Buddhists are adherents of the Drukpa subsect of the Kargyupa (literally, oral transmission) school, one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, which is itself a combination of the Theravada (monastic), Mahayana (messianic), and Tantrayana (apocalyptic) forms of Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhism holds that salvation can be achieved through the intercession of compassionate bodhisattvas (enlightened ones) who have delayed their own entry into a state of nibbana, or nirvana, enlightenment and selfless bliss, to save others. Emphasis is put on the doctrine of the cosmic Buddha, of whom the historical Buddha–Siddhartha Gautama (ca. 563-ca. 483 B.C.)–was only one of many manifestations. Bodhisattvas are in practice treated more as deities than as enlightened human beings and occupy the center of a richly polytheistic universe of subordinate deities; opposing, converted, and reformed demons; wandering ghosts; and saintly humans that reflects the shamanistic folk religion of the regions into which Buddhism expanded. Tantrism contributed esoteric techniques of meditation and a repertoire of sacred icons, phrases, gestures, and rituals that easily lent themselves to practical (rather than transcendental) and magical interpretation. “
    Since Donovan has also been attempting to establish a Maharishi associated university in Edinburgh of late, I’m not sure how he currently apportions gifts or reconciles adherence to which “Spiritual Paths” as Eastern devotees call them.

  8. Of course “hoff,” Jewish (and other) bankers helped Hitler at one point too.
    Jack London, Upton Sinclair were advocates of
    White Socialism.
    Of course it would be heresy to say “White Workers of the World Unite!” Impossible blend of racialism and Trotsky. But on a national basis, a different story.

  9. I went to the Maha Kumbha Mela in Allahabad in 2001. I was there for a month on the sangam (fair grounds) staying at Pilot Baba’s camp. I helped Nadeem Uddin make his independant Kumbha Mela documentary “Songs of the River,” starring Pilot Baba, Kali Baba (the African witch doctor dude), Dr. Andrew Weil and the XIV Dalai Lama etc. So, I know something about Advaita Vedanta. I even studied it for a winter in l970 at The Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy in Rishikesh. This ashram was across the river (Ganges) from the Maharishi’s ashram where the Beatles stayed along with Mike Love of the Beachboys, Donovan, Mia Farrow’s sister and others. The Beats had been to my ashram before the hippies – Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Joanne Kyger and Gary Snyder stayed there. A middle aged European female brahmachari who told me all about it. I suppose Donovan can be commended for his continuing commitment to Transcendental Meditation (trademark) and detour into Tibetan Buddhism, but I still think he ruins recent covers of “Isle of Islay” with his saccharine dedications to David Lynch and the Maharishi. Donovan’s folk music guru was the American Derroll Adams.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRbNsjT9AdY
    But the most influential forgotten US folkie in England back then was Jackson C. Frank. There’s no sadder story in the history of the Anglo-American folk music revival. Check out his story and weep.

  10. I was very disappointed with Lynch’s visit to Israel and his offputting of a pro-Palestinian reporter who was urging him to boycott or at least protest the oppression while there.

  11. How about Leonard Cohen who played Israel last weekend? He claims to have set up a charitable fund from the proceeds for Jewish and Palestinian victims of the occupation. But the way things work in showbiz I wonder who really benefits? He should have been a standup guy and not let himself get lured back there by either his nostalgia for the entertaining of IDF soldiers he did during the Six Day War, or for the money and glory. It would have been a publicity coup for the boycott Israel movement, but then he would have become a pariah in Hymietown and Tinseltown and he’s so sensitive already a bad table at Mortimer’s or The Four Seasons could be fatal.

  12. “If you can’t embrace this song because your heart is still stuck in Calcutta or Tijuana or Guatemala City or San Salvador or wherever, you’re not assimilated. ”
    Funny you didn’t mention Dublin or Palermo in there, considering that a huge number of the foreign flags flown pridefully on American soil belong to people descended from Irish/Italian heritage.

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