Pete Seeger digs deeper into the protest politics of Woody Guthrie’s folk anthem “This Land Is Your Land” in a previously unreleased live version of the song from 1976. The track, recorded during a show at the University of Tulsa, appears on the upcoming six-disc anthology project Pete Seeger: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, out May 3rd.
“Woody wrote a lot of verses that did not get in the school songbooks—here’s one of them,” Seeger says over a sprightly banjo strum, leading the audience through playful collective harmonies. “In the squares of the city, by the shadow of the steeple/By the welfare office, I saw my people,” he sings. “As they stood there hungry, I stood there whistling/This land is made for you and me.”
Later, he shifts the song to a Native American perspective: “This land is your land, but it once was my land/Before we sold you Manhattan Island/You pushed our nations to the reservations/This land was stole by you from me.”
Pete Seeger: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, timed around what would have been Seeger’s 100th birthday, follows similar collections from the label celebrating Guthrie and Lead Belly. Seeger died in 2014 at age 94.
The expansive set includes 20 previously unissued recordings, including a recently shared version of “We Shall Overcome.”