“This Land Is Your Land” written and sung by Woody Guthri was created as a response to the song “God Bless America” by Irving Berlin to show that that song was unrealistic. It was written to protest against the unrealistic things mentioned that normal people living could not achieve during the Great Depression and the reality of the poor people. Some listeners thought that the song was a Marxist response to “God Bless America”, while others thought it was just another national anthem. “This Land Is Your Land” is a piece under folk music. Folk music itself is not political, however, it played an influential and significant part in political issues.
Some parts of the lyrics that are relevant to the political message of the music are “There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me. The sign was painted, said: ‘Private Property.’ But on the backside, it didn’t say nothing. This land was made for you and me.” and “One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple, by the relief office I saw my people; as they stood there hungry, I stood there wondering if God blessed America for me?” The first part of the lyrics is like an exposure of the rich and how America is made up more of wealthy people with private property and land rather than normally living people. The second part of the lyrics is showing how poor people are to the point where they do not have enough food to eat and depend on the government for help. Woody Guthri’s lyrics are showing the realistic sides of how America actually is that he believed were not seen in “God Bless America”.
One musical characteristic of the piece that makes it a useful tool for political protest is the melody. Listening to the melody, one would not think of this song to be of political protest. The melody is surprisingly calm and nice to the ears to listen to. That unexpected melody is useful for political protest because it is something people would not expect, so that could lead them to listen to it more.
I like that you mentioned that the reality for people other than the wealthy is different than one would expect. I also noticed that the song could be very telling of the government’s treatment of the people who needs help to survive, as shown in the lyrics “by the relief office..stood there hungry”.