Monday, July 16, 2012

Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" the Anti-"God Bless America"

Bet you didn't know (I sure didn't) that Woody Guthrie, the centenary of whose birth is currently being celebrated with much fanfare, wrote his song because he thought Irving Berlin's song was too jingoistic, too overtly pro-American. Well, he did. In fact, Lee Hadeeb tells us, Woody's song includes this verse, which is a new one on me:
There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me,
A great big sign there said, “private property”;
But on the back side, it didn’t say nothin’;
That side was made for you and me.
Unlike Berlin (ne Israel Isidore Baline), a Jewish Russian immigrant who was eternally grateful to the land with the great big sign that took him in, and where he left an indelible mark, Guthrie, who was Born in the USA, looked to Russia--specifically to Stalinist Russia--as his GPS:
He wanted America to follow the Soviet model of government ownership of the means of production, wherein central planners and bureaucrats distribute the wealth for all workers to enjoy.
 In the Guthrie v. Berlin song battle, Berlin wins.

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