Words & Music: Woody Guthrie (1945)

Lyrics

1. This Land is your land,
This land is my land,
From California
To the New York Island,
From the redwood forest
To the gulfstream waters,
This land was made for you and me.

2. 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.

3. 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
This land was made for you and me.

4. 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.

5. This Land is your land,
This land is my land,
From California
To the New York Island,
From the redwood forest
To the gulfstream waters,
This land was made for you and me.

Background

“This Land Is Your Land” is one of the United States’ most famous folk songs. Its lyrics were written by Woody Guthrie in 1940 based on an existing melody, in critical response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” which Guthrie considered unrealistic. 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 obviously political verses than appear in most performances.

Performances

Here is a recording by the composer:

And here is a recording by the Weavers featuring another folk icon, Pete Seeger: