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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

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

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