Gaga Sings Guthrie At Super Bowl

Ezra Shaw Getty Images

After weeks  of  climatic chatter about whether or not Lady Gaga would use her Super Bowl half time performance as an opportunity to protest she finally did. The thing is most people didn’t catch it because they don’t know the history of the song she sang or the man that wrote it. Many online responses heralded her for not “cramming politics down their throats.” They don’t know the roots.

Gaga knocked it out of the park with Woody Guthrie’s song “This Land Is Your Land.” The song was originally wrote sarcastically in response to Kate Smith’s rendition of Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” song played extensively on the radio in the 1930’s. He changed the title to “This Land Is Your Land” and added the lyrics “There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me. The sign was painted, said ‘Private Property.’ But on the backside, it didn’t say nothing. This land was made for you and me.”

Other original lryics not included in the first recordings included “One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple, by the relief office I saw my people. As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering if God Blessed America for me.”

Guthrie who is known as a musician and activist spent his life wandering the roads playing folk tunes for the working and impoverished people everywhere. His music is tied to friends Pete Seeger and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, also outspoken musicians of their time. We recently shared a story of the civil rights training school in Tennessee called the Highlander Folk School that Woody and Seeger met with civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and coal mine union organizers. You can read all about that  HERE.

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Another fun fact about Guthrie is his protest song against Donald Trump’s father who he deemed a racist. Guthrie was once a Tenant in one of Fred Trump’s properties. He wrote a song about it. Here are the lyrics:

Old Man Trump
Woody Guthrie

I suppose that Old Man Trump knows just how much racial hate
He stirred up in that bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed that color line
Here at his Beach Haven family project

Beach Haven ain’t my home!
No, I just can’t pay this rent!
My money’s down the drain,
And my soul is badly bent!
Beach Haven is Trump’s Tower
Where no black folks come to roam,
No, no, Old Man Trump!
Old Beach Haven ain’t my home!

I’m calling out my welcome to you and your man both
Welcoming you here to Beach Haven
To love in any way you please and to have some kind of a decent place
To have your kids raised up in.

Beach Haven ain’t my home!
No, I just can’t pay this rent!
My money’s down the drain,
And my soul is badly bent!
Beach Haven is Trump’s Tower
Where no black folks come to roam,
No, no, Old Man Trump!
Old Beach Haven ain’t my home!

So you see, you did indeed receive a political song. You just didn’t realize the significance of where it came from or why Lady Gaga would be singing it from the Super Bowl halftime stage. It’s her attempt to remind you of the importance of inclusiveness and a tribute to folk legend, Woody Guthrie.

Listen to Woody’s version HERE.   Listen to Gaga’s version HERE.

Print

Original lyrics:

 

This land is your land, this land is my land
From the California to the Staten New York Island,
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf stream waters,
God blessed America for me.
[This land was made for you and me.]
As I went walking that ribbon of highway
And saw above me that endless skyway,
And saw below me the golden valley, I said:
God blessed America for me.
[This land was made for you and me.]
I roamed and rambled and followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts,
And all around me, a voice was sounding:
God blessed America for me.
[This land was made for you and me.]
Was a high wall there that tried to stop me
A sign was painted said: Private Property,
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing —
God blessed America for me.
[This land was made for you and me.]
When the sun come shining, then I was strolling
In wheat fields waving and dust clouds rolling;
The voice was chanting as the fog was lifting:
God blessed America for me.
[This land was made for you and me.]
One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple
By the Relief Office I saw my people —
As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering if
God blessed America for me.
[This land was made for you and me.]

 

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