As the event came to a close, Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen led the crowd in a rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” a song most of us think we know, but don’t — a song we love, although we might not if we knew why the song was written and what the song is really about.One of these days Habeeb is going to have to explain to us why no one ever sings the second, third, or fourth verses of "The Star Spangled Banner." I bet it's pretty nefarious.
And what the man who wrote the song was about, too.
What most Americans don’t know is that Guthrie didn’t like Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” and wrote “This Land Is Your Land” as a rebuttal.
What most Americans also don’t know is that Guthrie didn’t like his own country and wanted to fundamentally transform it along the lines of his heroes, Marx and Lenin.
And what most Americans had never heard until that day in Washington, D.C., was a stanza that is typically left out of public presentations of “This Land Is Your Land” because it is so radical. The lines are as radical as the writer himself, who dedicated his life to the overthrow of capitalism and private-property rights.
Hope and change were in the air that cold winter day, and Seeger and Springsteen figured it was time for America to hear the rarely performed stanza.
There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me,
A great big sign there said, “private property”;
But on the back side, it didn’t say nothin’;
That side was made for you and me.
No wonder we’ve never heard that stanza. It changes Guthrie’s song from a celebration of America into a bitter indictment of a nation built on unjust private-property rights.
Then Habeeb tells us more about how Woody Guthrie was a commie, and then the old story about how the Pilgrims learned communism was no good ("and there it ended, the American experiment with collectivism") -- at great and tedious length, maybe because, dull as he is, even Habeeb began to sense that trying to lecture people out of liking music is totally insane.
But he does eventually come back to tell us who else not to like:
Guthrie was the first musical icon of the 20th century to make it cool to sing songs about the workers’ revolution, ushering in the later tunes of Phil Ochs; Joan Baez; Billy Bragg; Jackson Browne; Crosby, Stills and Nash; Green Day; and the Clash.It no longer shocks me that such freaks at Habeeb exist, but I'm still not sure why venues such as National Review promote them instead of locking them in the attic. Aren't they interested in attracting normal people, who would recoil instinctively from anyone who buttonholed them in real life and started yelling, "You have to stop liking 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,' it's communist -- the Pilgrims knew"? Maybe they're given up, and want only a saving remnant of loons.