Two days before President Obama’s first inauguration in January of 2009, John Mellencamp, Garth Brooks, Stevie Wonder, Shakira, U2, Beyonce, Sheryl Crow and many others staged an all-star concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The penultimate performance was “This Land Is Your Land” with Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger and his grandson, Tao Rodriguez-Seeger.
“At rehearsals the day before, it was freezing,” Springsteen recalled later that year at Seeger’s 90th birthday concert. “Pete was there, he had his flannel shirt on, and I said, ‘Man, are you gonna wear something besides that shirt?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I’ve got my long-johns on under this thing.’ I asked, ‘How you wanna approach [the song], it being near the end of the show?’ And all he said was, ‘Well, I wanna sing all the verses. I wanna sing all the ones that Woody wrote, especially the two that get left out, about the private property and the relief office.’ And I thought, ‘Of course, that’s what Pete’s done his whole life. He sings all the verses all the time, especially the ones that we’d like to leave out of our history as a people.'”