This Land that I Love: Irving Berlin, Woody Guthrie, and the Story of Two American Anthems

This Land that I Love: Irving Berlin, Woody Guthrie, and the Story of Two American Anthems

John Shaw


February, 1940: After a decade of globally melancholy, global battle II had started in Europe and Asia. With Germany at the march, and Japan at struggle with China, the worldwide drawback was once in a crescendo. America’s best songwriter, Irving Berlin, had captured the nation’s temper a bit greater than a yr earlier than together with his patriotic hymn, “God Bless America.”

Woody Guthrie was once having none of it. Near-starving and penniless, he was once touring from Texas to long island to make a brand new commence. As he eked his manner around the state via bus and via thumb, he couldn’t steer clear of Berlin’s music. a few humans say that it used to be whilst he used to be freezing by way of the aspect of the line in a Pennsylvania storm from snow that he conceived of a rebuttal. it'll surround the darkish realities of the dirt Bowl and nice melancholy, and it can start with the traces: “This land is your land, this land is my land….”

In This Land That I Love, John Shaw writes the twin biography of those cherished American songs. interpreting the lives in their authors, he reveals that Guthrie and Berlin had extra in universal than both can have guessed. even though Guthrie’s photograph used to be outlined through train-hopping, Irving Berlin had additionally risen from homelessness, having labored his means up from the streets of latest York.

At a similar time, This Land That I Love sheds new gentle on our patriotic musical historical past, from “Yankee Doodle” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” to Martin Luther King’s recitation from “My state ’Tis of Thee” at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963. Delving into the deeper background of warfare songs, minstrelsy, ragtime, kingdom tune, folks tune, and African American spirituals, Shaw reveals a wealthy vein of half-forgotten musical traditions. due to archival study, he uncovers new information about the songs, together with a never-before-printed verse for “This Land Is Your Land.” the result's a desirable narrative that refracts and re-envisions America’s tumultuous background throughout the prism of 2 unforgettable anthems.

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