Bruce Springsteen got Pete Seeger invited to play at this Obamanation concert event at the Capitol yesterday. Tao Rodriguez, the Boss and a large choir sang the song as Pete called out the lyrics to the crowd. Pete called the song as originally written by Guthrie back when, complete with the verse about private property:
- 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;
- That side was made for you and me.
He also got in another lesser known verse:
- In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;
- By the relief office, I’d seen my people.
- As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
- Is this land made for you and me?
The choir kind of messes up on the private property verse. Was it planned to sing that one? He sings it instead of the chorus. I guess it was planned since it seems like the thing was rehearsed with the choir somehow, but all the same I’m amazed they let him even say the words “private property.” That’s awesome. He gave people a dose of the real business.
Guthrie took the melody for “This Land Is Your Land” from the hymn “When the World’s On Fire.” Guthrie loved the Carter Family so maybe he heard their version or he just learned the song from someone he knew. Bryant’s Jubilee Quartet does a great version, you can find that on iTunes.
I also appreciated that Rev. Lowry referenced Big Bill Broonzy’s song “Black, Brown & White Blues” at the end of the benediction he gave at the inauguration.
“They says, “if you was white, should be all right,
If you was brown, stick around,
But as you’s black, hmm brother, get back, get back, get back”