Here is another song for the Hard Hittin’ song series I started. This is one that Woody Guthrie wrote called This Land is your Land after hearing God Bless America one too many times. The song annoyed him, the lyrics were just too much for him to take. I never heard it said that Woody was an atheist, but maybe he was annoyed because Woody stood up for people who were put down by others as his own family had suffered from the perils of capitalism, people who had lost everything to the Great Depression and the often shaky infrastructure upon which capitalism stands, which can take down anybody without much warning including people like the Guthries who were once a prosperous family as the New Yorker article linked to above notes. So Woody stood up for others with his songs, or as he put it:
I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim or too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling.
I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work. And the songs that I sing are made up for the most part by all sorts of folks just about like you.
I could hire out to the other side, the big money side, and get several dollars every week just to quit singing my own kind of songs and to sing the kind that knock you down still farther and the ones that poke fun at you even more and the ones that make you think that you've not got any sense at all. But I decided a long time ago that I’d starve to death before I’d sing any such songs as that. The radio waves and your movies and your jukeboxes and your songbooks are already loaded down and running over with such no good songs as that anyhow.
The Wikipedia and the New Yorker link to the song in the links above show you the socialist lyrics that Woody composed for the song that have been edited out by historians. Yes, This Land is Your Land is a Socialist Song. So sing it loud, and when the children sing it in school, remind them that it’s a fact that it is a socialist song, and that the word and the ideology are nothing to be ashamed of.
We are losing the middle class in this country because we’ve been abandoning every scintilla of socialism, which was once seen as a positive in America by many people, especially those who helped build a middle class in this country, which we’re losing and have been losing since Ronald Reagan started the ball rolling. Those of us old enough to know and understand what happened saw it happen right before our eyes.
So listen to the song and remember what it stands for: Socialism. It’ts not a bad word, despite what you hear on television and radio and from those who are out to take away your middle class lifestyle, if they haven’t taken it from you already. If you let them, they’ll take away your socialist Social Security and your Socialist roads and highways and your Socialist military retirement and your Socialist police force and your Socialist schools, and every other Socialist thing in this country.
But if you fight for it, you might just in the years to come find for yourself a truly socialist, nonprofit, low cost way of keeping alive when you get sick. So keep on fighting by organizing, speaking out, and engaging in every other legal nonviolent way you can to embarrass the people who are trying to steal your middle class lifestyle.