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Tipsheet

Is This Land Is Your Land?

Lee Habeeb's fascinating piece over at National Review is about a verse from Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," that most Americans have never heard--that is, until Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger sang it at the big Lincoln Memorial inaugural celebration of Barack Obama in 2009.

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Here's the video of Springsteen and Seeger:

Habeeb responds to the video:

What most Americans don’t know is that Guthrie didn’t like Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” and wrote “This Land Is Your Land” as a rebuttal.

What most Americans also don’t know is that Guthrie didn’t like his own country and wanted to fundamentally transform it along the lines of his heroes, Marx and Lenin.

And what most Americans had never heard until that day in Washington, D.C., was a stanza that is typically left out of public presentations of “This Land Is Your Land” because it is so radical. The lines are as radical as the writer himself, who dedicated his life to the overthrow of capitalism and private-property rights.

Hope and change were in the air that cold winter day, and Seeger and Springsteen figured it was time for America to hear the rarely performed stanza.

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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.

No wonder we’ve never heard that stanza. It changes Guthrie’s song from a celebration of America into a bitter indictment of a nation built on unjust private-property rights.

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