A narrative history of the writing of This Land is Your Land” and God Bless America” that uncovers the conflicts and common ground between two classic, patriotic songs
Near the end of the Great Depression and the beginning of Worl A narrative history of the writing of This Land is Your Land” and God Bless America” that uncovers the conflicts and common ground between two classic, patriotic songs
Near the end of the Great Depression and the beginning of World War II, a homeless Dust Bowl refugee named Woody Guthrie originally drafted This Land Is Your Land” as an anthem that encompassed the tough realities of those dark times—and as a rebuttal to Irving Berlin’s God Bless America." But the song that Guthrie despised had its own complexities. Irving Berlin had risen from homelessness before becoming America’s most successful songwriter, and penned his song partly in response to Hitler’s rise overseas.
In This Land That I Love, music-writer and composer John Shaw writes the dual biography of these beloved American songs, at the same time shedding new light on our patriotic musical heritage, from Yankee Doodle” and The Star-Spangled Banner” to Martin Luther King’s quotation of My Country ’Tis of Thee” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963. Delving into the deeper history of war songs, minstrelsy, ragtime, country music, folk music, and African American spirituals, Shaw unearths a rich vein of half-forgotten patriotic and musical traditions. With the aid of new archival research, he uncovers new details about the songs' composition, including a never-before-printed verse for "This Land Is Your Land." The result is a fascinating narrative that refracts and re-envisions America’s tumultuous history through the prism of two unforgettable anthems.