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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

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

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