Monday, January 19, 2009

A concert made for you and me

I was trying to post a small tribute to Woody Guthrie tonight, after hearing Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen sing This Land Is Your Land at the We Are One concert held Sunday afternoon on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Unfortunately, the post got all garbled with formatting problems and I had to delete it after publishing it -- due to the weirdness of the way it turned out, with sentences chopped and lost.

So here it is again, in shortened version. It was a thrill to see Pete Seeger with his banjo exhorting the crowd to sing all the verses. And there are some great verses in that song, including my very favorites. This one:
In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

And this one:
As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

You don't get to hear that verse very often. How fitting that it came about on national television, with rousing backing by a youth choir as well as Pete's grandson and Bruce Springsteen singing along. Pete, was on everybody's blacklist for way too long, radical rabble-rouser that he has been for 89 years now! He looked and sounded great, even had the energy to jog off the stage when it was over.

It brought tears to my eyes and it made me want to hear Woody Guthrie, the fellow who made up that song in the depths of the depression. He didn't really mean for it to be a patriotic number, but rather a tribute to those who struggle to survive. Here's a snippet with footage of Woody in action:

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