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It was on this day in 1940 that Woody Guthrie wrote the lyrics to “This Land Is Your Land“ – now one of America’s most famous folk songs.
The melody is to an old Baptist hymn. Guthrie wrote the song in response to the grandiose “God Bless America,” written by Irving Berlin and sung by Kate Smith. Guthrie didn’t think that the anthem represented his own or many other Americans’ experience with America. So he wrote a folk song as a response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” a song that was often accompanied by an orchestra. At first, Guthrie titled his own song “God Blessed America” – past tense. Later, he changed the title to “This Land Is Your Land,” which is the first line of the song.