LABOR HISTORY 101: WOODY GUTHRIE

LABOR HISTORY 101: WOODY GUTHRIE
When it comes to unions and music, Woody Guthrie is often the first thought. Guthrie (1912-1967) wrote hundreds of political, folk and children’s songs in response to the conditions he saw as he travelled the nation throughout the Depression.
As a travelling troubadour, Guthrie often lent talents to union organizing drives. He penned the songs “Union Maid” and “You’ve Got to Join the Union.” He even led the way in writing the first Trump protest song “Old Man Trump”. It was a song castigating Fred Trump, father of Donald Trump and his wicked ways as Guthrie’s landlord.
“This Land is Your Land” is probably his most recognizable song. It was written in February 1940, after hearing “God Bless America”. Legend has it that after repeatedly hearing Kate Smith’s rendition on the radio, Guthrie was spurred to write his own song honoring the spirit of America. “We can’t just bless America, we have to change it,” Guthrie said and he wrote these lyrics:

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 was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.
I’ve roamed and rambled and I 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.
When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.
As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.
In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?
Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CHECK OUT:
Bound For Glory, the 1976 Hal Ashby biopic that won two Academy Awards and starred David Carradine.
http://woodyguthrie.org/curriculum/curunions.htm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zN8kGzHH00I
#laborhistory101 #newenglandteamsters #woodyguthrie #thislandismadeforyouandme #peopleshistory