Woody Guthrie wrote “This Land is Your Land” in a nothing-special hotel in New York, in the middle of writing a bunch of other songs. Wrote it longhand in a child’s school composition notebook. It sat in that notebook for years. It’s not clear he thought much of it... But it got out, into school songbooks around the country. And took off, like a second national anthem.
The podcast traces the fascinating history of this iconic song, how it was sanitized for school kids in the 1950's by the removal of the "secret" verses, so as not to offend the sensibilities of the anti-communists that dominated the discourse at the time. Here are the verses that don't appear in most elementary school songbooks:
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.
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.
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?"