According to Wikipedia, “This Land Is Your Land” has additional verses not included in all recorded Woody Guthrie versions, along with additional discrepancies in the published version(s). The one line that stands out is the last of this verse:
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.
The variant mentioned also has the same last line. Question is, did Woody ever sing the line as published (“That side…”)?
I just listened to the cited version on The Asch Recordings; to my ears, he clearly sings “This land…”, not “That side…”. So, critical, but not suggesting abolishment of private property? Or too reluctant to actually sing what he wanted to say, eventually publishing it instead?
Note: The article also mentions that Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen sang the extra verses at Obama’s inauguration. Pete makes sure to sing “That side…”.
Anyone else care to speculate?
It’s entirely possible that Woody wrote that verse and it’s not on a surviving recording though; I recall reading a biography of Woody where in a woman who was trying to choreograph a dance routine around some of his songs complained how he almost never played a song the same way twice, which of course made her job very frustrating. At any rate, it’s entirely possible that Peter heard Woody sing that version live, and it’s just not the version he decided to do when the Asch recordings were done.
That song was censored by the recording company for years.
I can’t remember the source, a biography of Woody, but I remember a story of him teaching Arlo the correct version and telling him to always sing that version.
I have a CD called “A Tribute to Woody Guthrie” and when they sing the song, they sing “THAT SIDE” quite clearly.
I don’t know about Woody singing, but every time I have been to an Arlo Guthrie concert he has sung the verse, including the “That side” in the last line. So Arlo did listen to his dad!
IIRC, when Arlo performed it at the Kennedy Center Honors tribute to Pete Seeger, he sang the “That side” version.
Arlo Guthrie was performing with the Boston Pops on July 4th a few years ago. He said he was at school one day and they were singing This Land is Your Land. And he didn’t know the words. He went home that night and told his dad what happened. His dad wrote some new verses and taught them to Arlo, so the next time they sang that song, he’d be the only one who knew all the words.
That story may be too good to be true.
It might be too good to be true, but I know he’s told that story multiple times. He said the same thing on Man in the Sand, which was a documentary about the Woodie Guthrie/Billy Bragg/Wilco collaboration, Mermaid Avenue.
Sorry, I have to do it
This land is my land
It’s only my land
I’ve got a shot gun
And you ain’t got one
If you don’t get off
I’ll blow your head off
This land belongs to only me
There is a verse that we always sung in elementary school.
This land is your land, this land is my land
From Bona Vista to Vancouver Island…
And that’s where memory fails, but Google succeeds:
This land is your land, This land is my land,
From Bonavista, to Vancouver Island
From the Arctic Circle to the Great Lakes waters,
This land was made for you and me.