Sunday Music – This Land Is Your Land

Posted on Sun 06/10/2012 by


Today’s music video is This Land Is Your Land from Neil Young, Woodie Guthrie, and Australian band The Seekers.

Link to Video at You Tube

This video was posted to You Tube by nawraptor

This version by Neil Young may sound completely different to the version most popularised over the years, and people may think that Neil Young has inserted his own words to this famous Woody Guthrie standard. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

Woody Guthrie wrote the song in 1940 and first recorded in in 1944. Over the years that first recorded version became known as the full and only version. The Smithsonian has one of the earliest known recordings of the song and that recording has the verse shown below:

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;
This land was made for you and me.

Woody had a variant on that verse which is the first verse sung here by Neil Young, slightly altering the wording of this verse, but the same as Guthrie himself sang on occasion.

The other two verses sung here by Neil Young are also verses from the original Woody Guthrie version, and this is confirmed by the original Woody Guthrie manuscript of the song. That information is detailed at this link, and also at the Woody Guthrie site which shows the whole lyrics for the song, and that is at this link.

This next clip is the original short version sung by Woody Guthrie himself.

Link to Video at You Tube

This video was posted to You Tube by alargedog

Woody Guthrie was a known activist at the time and while this clip shows some footage of Guthrie playing, it also shows some stills of him with his guitar. He had a large sticker on his guitar in the most prominently visible space that the public would see, and this shown in one of the stills in this clip. That sticker says “This machine kills fascists”, and is seen in the image of Guthrie at right.

While his health deteriorated in the late 40’s he was still writing. In the late 50’s and early 60’s there was a huge revival in the Folk Music genre, and his songs were revived. Bob Dylan has said that Guthrie was one of his biggest influences, and Dylan visited him a number of times before Guthrie sadly passed away in 1967 from complications from his Huntington’s Disease. Guthrie was married and had eight children, one of them, another popular folk singer Arlo Guthrie. Without doubt this song is his most recognised song, and over the years has been ‘covered’ by a plethora of artists and bands from every genre of music. In 2002, this song was chosen by the Library Of Congress to add to the National Recording Registry.

This next version of the song has the most recognised lyrics for the song, and here it is being sung by Australian group The Seekers.

Link to Video at You Tube

This video was posted to You Tube by dazbluey

This was the first time I heard the song, in late 1966. It was from one of the very first Long Play records I purchased with my own money. I still have that LP in my collection and on the back it still has the handwritten price at $5.25, which in those days was a lot of money, especially for a 15 year old boy, as I was at the time. The album is a self titled album from the Australian band, The Seekers. They had just started to ‘crack the big time’ in the UK, where they had moved to from Australia to further their career. While this album contains none of their early major hits, it was hurriedly released to fill a gap in the market as their new music came out by boat from the UK back to Australia. On this album, The Seekers sang nearly all cover versions, except for two songs composed by band member Bruce Woodley. This Woody Guthrie song is just one of those songs from that album. The beautiful female voice taking lead vocals here belongs to Judith Durham, arguably one of the finest voices to come out of Australia.

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