Hi everyone. Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing. But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?
(Image found online. Original source unknown.)
I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.
Admittedly I was not much of a fan of folk music in my teenage years. I had heard a few artists from that genre & knew it was not a sound I could ever embrace. But as my love of music grew I found another artist who embraced that sound-namely, Bob Dylan. Of course I found the beauty of his words & music remarkable & realized how far reaching his influence was, especially on my great musical love, Bruce Springsteen. But who was a great influence on Dylan? One of the biggest was Woody Guthrie.
Today the folk genre is more commonly known today as “roots music” or Americana which includes the early sounds not only of folk but blues, country, rhythm & blues and rock influences. Guthrie embodied all those sounds and made them his own.
Legend tells us he wrote today’s song as a somewhat snarky answer to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” which Guthrie was tired of hearing so often on the radio in the late 1930’s. He wrote some of the lyrics in 1940 but did not do anything with the tune until he revisited it in 1944. That is when he played it for a record company executive changing the course of Guthrie’s life from a Merchant Marine to a professional musician & artist.
The melody has been attributed to a song by The Carter Family (yes, Johnny Cash’s in-laws) but Guthrie’s tune used a different structure of the earlier one. The lyrics, however, are all his. And they are quite beautiful. I remember singing this song in my elementary school music class quite often. Each time I envisioned the scenes Guthrie wrote about and dreamt of the day I could see it all. But music, like the pages of a book, made me feel as if I already had. That is the power of great art.
On this Memorial Day 2021, we celebrate this great land of ours, the great freedoms we have here because of those who paid the highest price for us to have it. We owe them all a debt of gratitude.
“As I went walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
Saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me“.
Woody Guthrie circa 1945. (Image found online. Original source unknown.)
Woody Guthrie: “This Land Is Your Land” (1944, written by Woody Guthrie).
I do not own the rights to anything. I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.