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Monday, January 19, 2009


Irony alert

Yesterday, a columnist at the Huffington Post was complaining about how the Presidential Inauguration Committee had sold the exclusive rights to yesterday's concert to HBO. She didn't know the half of it, though. The concert was brought to a close with a duet of Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen singing the song I had been hoping for, "This Land is Your Land," the song written by Woody Guthrie as an answer to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," but which is usually made palatable by singing only the first verses about the redwood forests and the Gulf Stream waters. But imagine my surprise when they sang not only a verse many of us probably know, a verse which appears in the version sung by Odetta and Arlo Guthrie on the must-have album "A Tribute to Woody Guthrie," but two more verses I wasn't familiar with:
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.

[The lyrics sung by Seeger and Springsteen to that verse were a bit different:

A great high wall there that tried to stop me;
A great big sign there said private property;
But on the other side it didn't say nothing;
That side was made for you and me.]

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

[Seeger version:

In the squares of the city, by the shadow of the steeple,
By the relief office, I saw my people,
As they stood there hungry, I stood there whispering,
This land was made for you and me]

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.
Was Obama listening to those verses about "private property" and the "relief office"? I don't know, but we know HBO wasn't. A video of that song from the concert was briefly posted on YouTube. It has now been removed for copyright violation (although no doubt if you search you'll find it somewhere on the web).

Update: Courtesy of the comments, the version recorded by a non-U.S. station:

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