If Woody Guthrie had been alive during the founding of the U.S., “This Land Is Your Land” would probably be our national anthem. The song, just Guthrie, a guitar and a melody that already existed, doesn’t seem like much when you first hear it. But Guthrie’s idealistic vision of the U.S. is a call to our nation’s founding principles of equality and democracy. And in the 1930s and ’40s, Guthrie’s squeaky Okie twang spoke for a generation of struggling Americans. Somehow “This Land Is Your Land” encompasses the American Dream with just three simple chords and a childlike lyrical quality. There’s nothing overly ambitious about it, yet Guthrie paints a sweeping panorama of the U.S. — from California to New York, from ocean to desert — a country founded on principles we often fail to live up to.
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