In the late 1960s and the 1970s, conservatives made big displays of singing this song. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir recorded one very popular version of it; it showed up often. In those occasional complaints about the difficulty of singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” this song’s suitability for national anthem status was always raised.
Today? I haven’t heard it at a Republican gathering in long, long time. I’m not saying that it’s completely disappeared from the conservative song book — among other things, I don’t attend Republican conventions as often as I once did, but I don’t think I’d hear it if I did. I am saying that people finally started listening to the song, and it’s been largely dropped from conservative sing alongs for political reasons.
And that tells us a lot.
It would be good to hear this song a lot more; it would be good if more people sang it.
Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger leading the congregation in singing Woody Guthrie’s “The Land Is Your Land,” from a 1993 concert at Wolf Trap Farm Park in Virginia (one of my favorite venues for any music):
(Arlo’s got a new release this year, featuring this tune.)
- NPR story on the history of “This Land Is Your Land,” from 2000
- Another history of the song, from Songfacts
- Arlo Guthrie’s web page