Video of the Week: Classical Flutist Reacts to Jethro Tull

“This Land Is Your Land”: The Story Behind America’s Best-Known Protest Song

(Getty Images)

(via Mental Floss) BY Kenneth Partridge

Few songs are more ingrained in the American psyche than “This Land Is Your Land,” the greatest and best-known work by folk icon Woody Guthrie. For decades, it’s been a staple of kindergarten classrooms “from California to the New York island,” as the lyrics go. It’s the musical equivalent of apple pie, though the flavor varies wildly depending on who’s doing the singing.

On its most basic level, “This Land Is Your Land” is a song about inclusion and equality—the American ideal broken down into simple, eloquent language and set to a melody you memorize on first listen. The underlying message, repeated throughout the song, makes the heart swell: “This land was made for you and me.”

But there’s more to “This Land Is Your Land” than many people realize—two verses more, in fact. Guthrie’s original 1940 draft of the song contains six verses, two of which carry progressive political messages that add nuance to the song’s overt patriotism. These controversial verses are generally omitted from children’s songbooks and the like, but they speak volumes about Guthrie’s mindset when he put pen to paper 80 years ago…

Read more:

Songs You May Have Missed #664

Clannad: “Theme from Harry’s Game” (1982)

“Everything that is and was will cease to be” is the message of a song that the Irish family band was commissioned to write for an English TV miniseries that touched on the futility of political violence.

It became the first Irish-language song to chart in the UK (#5) won an Igor Novello award and featured in several Hollywood movies, including Patriot Games.

At the peak of the global success the song brought them, singer Moya Brennan related, they were asked what it was like to write a hit song. Their answer: “Oh come on, be serious, if you were trying to write a hit song would you have written it in Gaelic?”

See also:

Video of the Week: Antoine Baril’s ‘One Man Yes’ Tribute

Video of the Week: Dr. Seuss Raps over Dr. Dre Beats

Filmmaker Wes Tank’s must-see mashup of Dr. Dre and Dr. Seuss.

Video of the Week: The Pandemic Power of Music

On a Lighter Note…(Coronavirus Edition)


Bob Dylan’s 50 Greatest Songs – Ranked

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images.

(via The Guardian)  by Alexis Petridis

As fans puzzle out the epic “Murder Most Foul,” we count down the best of Bob, from the fury of “Pay in Blood” to the pure genius of “Simple Twist of Fate.”

50. Changing of the Guards (1978)

Street Legal delivered fans a shock: Dylan fronting a large band, with female backing singers to the fore. The words, meanwhile, might well represent an oblique personal history, from adolescence through marriage to religious conversion: whatever they were about, they reduced Patti Smith to tears on first hearing.

49. This Wheel’s on Fire (1967)

Subsequently covered by everyone from Siouxsie and the Banshees to Kylie Minogue, in every style from psychedelic to electro-glam stomp, the original Basement Tapes recording of This Wheel’s on Fire – both a great song and another of Dylan’s umpteen apocalyptic visions – has a uniquely intense, eerie quality that no one else has subsequently matched.

48. Pay in Blood (2012)

Should you wonder if Dylan’s capacity for rage had been dulled by his advancing years, listen to Pay in Blood, a gentle musical backdrop for an expression of literally murderous fury: at first he’s so angry that the lyrics are incomprehensible, his voice just a phlegmy snarling noise; when they come into focus, he’s demanding vengeance on bankers and politicians “pumping out [their] piss”. Bracing.

47. My Back Pages (1964)

Those upset when Dylan went electric couldn’t say he didn’t warn them something big was coming: My Back Pages spends the best part of five minutes not repudiating his protest singer past, but bidding the kind of certainties that fuelled it (“lies that life is black and white”) a sardonic farewell…

Read more:

‘Four dead in Ohio’…How the Kent State Shooting Changed Music History

(via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) by Scott Mervis

Seeing the devastating pictures in Life magazine in May 1970, Neil Young — from 2,500 miles away — wrote the definitive song about the massacre at Kent State.

“Ohio,” recorded with Crosby, Stills & Nash three weeks after the May 4 shootings and released as a single that month, shocked the airwaves with its refrain of “Four dead in O-hi-o” and became a generation’s rallying cry for resistance to the Nixon administration and the Vietnam War.

One of the people dead on the ground, captured so strikingly in a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo, was Jeffrey Miller, a 20-year-old who had just transferred there from Michigan State University.

“I knew Jeff had been a fan of [Neil Young],” Chrissie Hynde writes in her memoir “Reckless: My Life as a Pretender,” “so I was happy that Young had become our spokesman, our voice. It was a big element in easing us out of shock.”

Hynde, now a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was among the Kent State students at the rally that day, and she had company — an assortment of bright young musicians who would become future icons and headliners.

Not mentioned in his classic song “Life’s Been Good” is that Joe Walsh, later of the James Gang and The Eagles, was witness to the events.

Chris Butler, who would go on to form The Waitresses and write the hit “I Know What Boys Like,” was with Miller, who was a close friend.

Gerald Casale, who stared down the National Guard, went on to form one of the most influential art-punk bands of the ’70s. “Devo wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for Kent State,” Casale said in a recent phone interview. “That’s the long and short of it.”

Read more:

%d bloggers like this: