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Song Stories

“This Land Is Your Land”

Woody Guthrie | 1945

Schoolchildren consider this Woody Guthrie song a poetic tribute to America, like Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A.," yet, like that anthem, it has often been misunderstood. Written in response to Irving Berlin's jingoistic "God Bless America," the song challenges the notion of capitalism — though more subtly after blatantly Marxist lyrics were omitted. "My dad was bent on two directions at once," Arlo Guthrie wrote in Rolling Stone. "To escape the world and to change the world. I think all his songs deal with one or both of those subjects."

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Song Stories

“Road to Nowhere”

Talking Heads | 1985

A cappella harmonies give way to an a fuller arrangement blending pop and electro-disco on "Road to Nowhere," but the theme remains constant: We're on an eternal journey to an undefined destination. The song vaulted back into the news a quarter century after it was a hit when Gov. Charlie Crist used it in his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida. "It's this little ditty about how there's no order and no plan and no scheme to life and death and it doesn't mean anything, but it's all right," Byrne said with a chuckle.

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