On this day in 1940, Woody Guthrie writes “This Land Is Your Land”


Folk singer Woody Guthrie writes one of his best-known songs, “This Land is Your Land.”

Born in Okemah, Oklahoma, in 1912, Guthrie lived and wrote of the American West, a place of hard-working people and harsh environments rather than romantic cowboys and explorers. Though he was a son of a successful politician and businessman, during his early teens his mother fell ill and the family split apart.

For several years, Guthrie spent his summers working as a migrant agricultural laborer. When he was 15, he left home to travel the country by freight train. Among his meager possessions were a guitar and harmonica. Guthrie discovered an eager audience among the hobos and migrant workers for the country-folk songs he had learned in Oklahoma.

In 1937, he traveled to California where he hoped to become a successful western singer. He appeared on several West Coast radio shows, mostly performing traditional folk songs. Soon, though, he began to perform his own pieces based on his experiences living among the vast armies of the poor and dispossessed created by the Great Depression.

While in California he also came into contact with the Communist Party and became increasingly sympathetic to its causes. Many of his songs reflected a strong commitment to the common working people, and he became something of a musical spokesman for populist sentiments.

“This Land Is Your Land,” which Guthrie wrote while living in New York City, reflected not only Guthrie’s support for the common folk but also his deep love for his country. The verse celebrated the beauty and grandeur of America while the chorus drove home the populist sentiment that the nation belonged to all the people, not merely the rich and powerful.

Woodrow Wilson Guthrie (July 14, 1912 – October 3, 1967), aka Woody Guthrie, was an American singer-songwriter, one of the most significant figures in American folk music. His work focused on themes of American socialism and anti-fascism. He has inspired several generations both politically and musically with songs such as “This Land Is Your Land”, written in response to the American exceptionalist song “God Bless America”.

Probably the most famous of his more than 1,000 songs, “This Land Is Your Land” was also one of his last. Later that year Guthrie moved to New York where his career was soon after interrupted by World War II. After serving in the Merchant Marines, he returned to New York, where he continued to perform and record his old material, but he never matched his earlier prolific output.

Guthrie’s career was cut short in 1954 when he was struck with Huntington’s Disease, a degenerative illness of the nervous system that had killed his mother. His later years were spent in a New York hospital where he received visitors like the adoring young Bob Dylan, who copied much of his early style from Guthrie.

Guthrie died in 1967, having lived long enough to see his music inspire a whole new generation and “This Land is Your Land” become a rallying song for the civil rights movement.


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  1. I read the response of the Assistant General Manager which is all in unequivocal Italian idiom says “prego beppe, prego”
    “Please” in Italian is an invitation not to write about certain things.
    So if you write this I must think that what I wrote disturbs your quiet life that for Italian Magistrates is the “mark” of being mafia?
    Greetings and I hope we understand each other.

  2. Dear J. Punish, I insist that I am in my hour of freedom.
    And after writing to your fascist and spy Carisio and his LOLs (which he has already deleted), if you will allow me, I would like to say thank you for remembering Woody Ghutrie, “this guitar is my gun” (gun against whom do you think?) and “this land is your land” (I have known him since 1977). Mine/your, Woody says, not Rockeffeller’s and his puppet Biden’s (and those like him).
    It was the Great Depression and many fell under the New Deal glare.
    The most innocent is just W. Ghutrie who had he been able-bodied, and not in the hospital, in Kennedy’s time would have sung other stories with his playing buddies Sonny Terry and Hudie Lettbetter, and not just for the easy survival of DDR but for the human dignity of JFK’s speech you already know about
    Unfortunately, in the U.S. solipsym you appreciate, with the logo of the Presidency of US, “Ich bin ein Berliner” (and see in the video how jubilant everyone was). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GKd50lrROc
    But even with that, why was JFK killed if not for lack of help from the people who were traumatized and easy prey to Nazi-like propaganda at his assassination? Do you understand that?
    On DDR I could tell you a personal story in an assembly (later known to be Masonic).

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