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This Land is Your Land, Woody Guthrie's Forgotten Lyrics


Every American of recent memory has at one time or another sung the song, This Land is Your Land.  It is now ingrained in our psyche and folklore as true Americana.  However the lyrics and music which were written by arguably the most eloquent folk singer of the twentieth century have since been manipulated and altered to quiet its message of protest.              


Guthrie roamed the U.S. during one of the most troubled periods of America’s past, during the great depression. In fact Guthrie became known as the “Dust Bowl Troubadour.”  He was no stranger to poverty, having experienced it in the Oklahoma of his youth.                                                  


In all of Guthrie's songs his spirit cries out for social and economic justice, and his songs have since become the stuff of legend.  This is what he said about the music he played:


"A man sings about the little things that help him or hurt his people and he sings of what has got to be done to fix this world like it ought to be." [1]


"I have walked and listened to these songs in the Tennessee Valley and heard versions on top of Pike's Peak and along the Columbia River, but I did not hear any of them on the radio.  I did not hear any of them in the movie house.  I did not hear a single ounce of our history being sung on the juke box.  The Big boys don't want to hear our history of blood, sweat, work and tears, of slums, bad housing, diseases, big blisters... nor about our fight to have unions and free speech and a family of nations.  But the people want to hear about all those things in every possible way.  The playboys and the playgals don't work to make our history plain to us nor to point out to us which road to travel next.  They... hide our history from us and point to every earthly stumbling block." [2] 


During his career he played with other legends like the Blues great Leadbelly, and was a mentor to Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger.

Here are the unabridged lyrics to This Land is Your Land, which Guthrie penned in protest to the lyrics of God Bless America

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.


As I went walking that ribbon of highway

And saw above me that endless skyway,

And saw below me the golden valley, I said:

This land was made for you and me.


I roamed and rambled and followed my footsteps

To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts,

And all around me, a voice was sounding:

This land was made for you and me.


Was a high wall there that tried to stop me

A sign was painted said: Private Property,

But on the back side it didn’t say nothing—

That side was made for you and me.


When the sun come shining, then I was strolling

In wheat fields waving and dust clouds rolling;

The voice was chanting as the fog was lifting;

This land was made for you and me.


One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple

By the Relief Office I saw my people—

As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering if

This land was made for you and me.


Woody G.

February 1940

3520 Mermaid Avenue

Brooklyn, New York 


Fascism fought indoors or out

Good & bad weather

Full or empty halls


VIDEO: Rare Guthrie Recording





1. 10 of Woody Guthrie's Songs, book one. Self-published, April 3, 1945, p. 2.

2. ibid




The lyrics entered the public domain in 1973.

Posted  May 04, 2008

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