Category Archive 'Woody Guthrie'

12 Nov 2017

“Property is Theft!”

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Unless, of course, it’s a case of a member of a prominent leftist Nomenklatura family seeking to enforce property rights, as one oblivious Yale alumnus from the Class of 1972 inadvertently reveals in this month’s Class Notes.

NW writes:

The most interesting thing I learned was that [PL]’s law firm represented Woody Guthrie’s daughter Nora, fighting an unjustified attempt to put ‘This Land Is Your Land’ into the public domain. Woody wrote it in 1940. (It was originally titled ‘God Blessed America For Me’ in his manuscript—which I’ve seen—as a protest against ‘God Bless America’ from Irving Berlin’s jingoistic World War I musical, Yip, Yip, Yaphank and later recorded by Kate Smith to sell war bonds in the ’40s.) It includes my favorite verse: ‘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.’ (Emphasis is my own: a very important, influential American protest song, not just a folk anthem.)

I guess “This Song Isn’t Your Song.”


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