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Just the Facts: This Land Is Your Land

This Library of Congress site has been condensed for use by younger readers.

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THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND

This land is your land,
This land is my land...

The Music

Woody Guthrie, the composer of "This Land Is Your Land," was one of the most important voices in American folk music. His styles were influenced by his childhood in rural Oklahoma during the Great Depression. This led him to a hobo life-style, a dislike of greed, and a deep appreciation for the differences America's everyday folk.

In February 1940, Guthrie wrote "This Land is Your Land" in reaction to Irving Berlin's song "God Bless America." Guthrie heard Berlin's song over and over while he traveled cross-country. He became annoyed when he saw that everyone in America did not have land and wealth. Guthrie saw that, even in the depths of the Depression, nearly 20 percent of the nation's wealth rested with one percent of its population.

Amazingly Guthrie and Houston recorded over 160 songs during that set of recording sessions. Since then "This Land Is Your Land" has been re-recorded by many vocal artists.

Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie playing guitar .
Al Aumuller, photographer,
March 8, 1943.
Prints and Photographs Division

Land - black & white

Clouds. Light clouds over highway
and phone poles II.
Horydczak, Theodor, photographer. ca 1920-50.
Prints and Photographs Division

The Lyrics

Guthrie originally entitled his song "God Blessed America for Me," a line repeated at the end of each verse. By the time he first recorded the song with Cisco Houston, in April 1944, he changed the lines to "This land was made for you and me." His song has been known ever since -- "This Land Is Your Land."

Sometime before April 1944 Guthrie removed the final verse he originally wrote for "This Land Is Your Land." In its place he eventually wrote an additional verse that appeared in his 1946 mimeographed pamphlet entitled Ten Songs for Two Bits .

Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my Freedom Highway
Nobody living can make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

 

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Last updated: Nov. 27, 2004