Music Video

Jason Isbell Hears the Lost Lyrics to 'This Land Is Your Land'

May 2016

Smithsonian Channel: Woody Guthrie captured the promise and frustration of the America he once knew in his famous song 'This Land Is Your Land.' Watch as country singer Jason Isbell learns the song's missing lyrics and pays tribute to the folk legend.

Smithsonian Artifact Featured in this Video

Smithsonian Museum
National Portrait Gallery
Description
Woody Guthrie was a songwriter and folksinger who created the genre of "Americana" music, and he is the link between Walt Whitman, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Ani DiFranco, and Wilco. He grew up an "Okie" during the Great Depression and wrote a series of Dust Bowl ballads crystallizing that experience. Guthrie affected a folksy persona as a hillbilly bard, but he was more a wandering bohemian, often unable to meet his family obligations. An avowed socialist and labor-union activist, he created the modern protest song and thought of himself as a voice of the voiceless. He believed songs should be weapons of psychological liberation and scrawled "This Machine Kills Fascists" across his guitar. Guthrie often ended shows by saying, "Take it easy, but take it," recommending a certain cool self-possession in the face of economic oppression. Many Americans consider Guthrie’s "This Land Is Your Land" to be the real national anthem.
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Type
Photograph
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