This Land Is Your Land

This Land Is Your Land

"This Land Is Your Land" is one of the United States' most famous folk songs. Its lyrics were written by Woody Guthrie in 1940 on an existing melody, in response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America", which Guthrie considered unrealistic and complacent. Tired of hearing Kate Smith sing it on the radio, he wrote a response originally called "God Blessed America for Me". Guthrie varied the lyrics over time, sometimes including more overtly political verses than appear in recordings or publications.

Guthrie lifted the melody of "This Land Is Your Land" essentially note-for-note from "When the World's on Fire", a Baptist hymn recorded by country legends the Carter Family ten years earlier. However, some sources claim that a Carter Family original, "Little Darlin' Pal of Mine," was the source of the melody for "This Land. He wrote the song in 1940 and recorded it in 1944. The song was not published until 1951, when it was included in a mimeographed booklet of ten songs with typed lyrics and hand drawings. The booklet was sold for twenty-five cents, and copyrighted in 1945.

The first known professionally printed publication was in 1956 by Ludlow Music (now a unit of The Richmond Organization), which administered the publishing rights to Guthrie's tune. Ludlow later issued versions with piano and guitar accompaniments.

In 2002, it was one of 50 recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry

Original 1944 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 went 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 roamed and I rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
While All around me a voice was sounding
Saying 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
A voice was chanting, As the fog was lifting,
This land was made for you and me.

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.

Confirmation of other two verses

A March 1944 recording in the possession of the Smithsonian, the earliest known recording of the song, has the "private property" verse included. This version was recorded the same day as 75 other songs. This was confirmed by several archivists for Smithsonian interviewed as part of the History Channel program Save Our History - Save our Sounds. The 1944 recording with this verse can be found on Woody Guthrie: This Land is Your Land: The Asch Recordings Volume 1, where it is track 14.

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
Sign was painted, it said private property;
But on the back side it didn't say nothing;
That side was made for you and me.

This verse is the second that was in doubt for a time, it was referred to as the "relief office" verse.

In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;
By the relief office, I'd seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me?

A 1945 pamphlet which omitted the last two verses has caused some question as to whether the original song did in fact contain the full text. The original manuscript confirms both of these verses.

Like a great many folk songs, the lyrics were sung with different words at various times although the motives for this particular change of lyrics may involve the possible political interpretations of the verses. Recordings of Guthrie have him singing the verses with different words.

Modern usage

The song was brought back to life in the 1960s, when several artists of the new folk movement, including Bob Dylan, The Kingston Trio, The New Christy Minstrels and Peter Paul and Mary, recorded versions, inspired by its political message. The Seekers recorded the song for their 1965 album, A World of Our Own. Bruce Springsteen released a live version of it on Live/1975-85, in which he called it "about one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Numerous records have been released since. Dave Matthews has periodically sung the song's first verse as an outro while performing "Don't Drink The Water". In 2007, Counting Crows released an acoustic version as a bonus track on August and Everything After. The funk/soul group Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings included their rendition on the 2005 record Naturally. Bruce Springsteen once again brought back the song in 2008 as set closer when performing acoustic concerts in support of Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama, this time adding a "Yes We Can" chant before and after the song.


As is the case with many well-known songs, it has been the subject of an enormous number of variations and parodies. They include:

Versions about other countries

This land is your land, This land is my land,
From Bonavista, to Vancouver Island
From the Arctic Circle to the Great Lakes waters,
This land was made for you and me.

  • The Swedish musician Mikael Wiehe has written a text in Swedish, Det här är ditt land. The text is about Sweden.
  • The UK anarcho-punk band Zounds rewrote "This Land" for their 1981 debut LP, The Curse of Zounds, releasing a remixed CD single version as a fund-raising benefit in 2001.
  • In Ireland and western Scotland, many sing the song with these lyrics:

This land is your land, this land is my land
From the northern highlands to the western islands
From the hills of Kerry to the streets of (Free) Derry
This land was made for you and me

However there is also an Irish rebel song, which is often performed with Let the People Sing , with the above chorus and three verses:

As I went walking, by the Shannon waters
Hand in hand with my little daughter
I heard the church bells ringing
And the children singing
This land was made for you and me

I climbed the mountain, by the crystal fountains
And I heard a great roar, from the rocky seashore
Her eyes were gleaming,
She said "Oh daddy"
This land was made for you and me

I walked her home by, the old church steeple
Proud of my country, Proud of my people
From the men who cried there
To the men who died there singing that
This land was made for you and me

The Waterboys have performed the song with an additional verse, referring to Scotland

  • In India, the following version is sung:

This land is your land, this land is my land,
From the Himalaya, down to Cape Comorin.
From Bombay City to Old Calcutta -
This land is made for you and me.

  • In 1968, a Belgian singing duo, a young woman and her brother named "Hanny and Adri" made a version in Esperanto, titled "Jen Nia Mondo," literally "Behold Our World." The chorus translates as:

Behold my world,
Behold your world,
With mountain snow
And sea wave,
From the tropics
To the poles,
Behold vast world for all of us.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From the Negev Desert to the Heights of Golan
From the Port of Haifa
To Maale Adumim
This land was made for you and me

This land is your land, this land is my land,
From California to the Virgin Islands
From the Redwood Forest, to the Caribbean waters
This land is made for you and me
This was followed by a voiceover advertising the islands.

Other variations

bir görüşte vuruldum masmavi gözlerine nasıl inandım bilmem o yalan sözlerine

this land is your land this land is my land from california to the new york island

işte ben gidiyorum arkam sıra üzülme uyma dedim ben sana uydun eller sözüne

işte zaman değişti herkes güler yüzüne pişmanlık fayda etmez şimdi geldin sözüme

this land is your land this land is my land from california to the new york island

In film, television and Internet

  • The Tim Robbins film Bob Roberts (1992) includes a song in which the title character sings "This land is my land, this land is my land."
  • The song was parodied in a 1999 episode of Friends when Joey meets a man he believes to be his "hand-twin," resulting in the lyric "This hand is my hand."
  • It is also parodied in The Simpsons episode "Lisa the Treehugger" (2000) with the words changed to "This log is my log, this log is your log" in reference to a runaway giant redwood tree.
  • In 2004, the Web site JibJab featured a parody of the song, featuring John Kerry and George W. Bush singing altered lyrics, resulting in the Richmond Organization threatening legal action. At this point, it was noticed that the copyright to the original 1945 publication had expired in 1973 and was not renewed as then required by copyright law. The Richmond Organization settled with Jibjab shortly thereafter. It still, however, claims copyright on other versions of the song, such as those appearing in the 1956 and later publications. Legally, such claims only apply to original elements of the song that were not in the public domain version. The first JibJab parody verse, sung by Bush, is:
  • :This land is your land, [points to "Mass-a-chew-setts"] this land is my land [points to Texas]
  • :I'm a Texas tiger, you're a liberal wiener
  • :I'm a great crusader, you're a Herman Munster.
  • :This land will surely vote for me!
  • In the 4Kids Entertainment dub of One Piece, in the episode "The Sweat Threat" (2007), before Luffy's third fight with Crocodile, Luffy tells Crocodile to return the land he stole from Alabasta, and Crocodile responds with, "Oh please, this land isn't even your land! But this land is my land! From Alubarna to the Desert Island! This land was made for him, then me!" When Crocodile says "him", 4Kids added a shot of King Nefeltari Nebra (King Nefertari Cobra in the Japanese version).
  • The song was also performed in the 1998 movie, Stepmom.


External links


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