This Land Is Your Land
by Woody Guthrie
"Here's this guy who always had all these words and now that he's making it really big, he can't say anything" (Klein xiv). Woody Guthrie died in 1967 after spending the last twelve years of his life in the hospital.
Luckily for his admirers, Woody Guthrie did a lot of writing during his life, leaving behind thousands of songs and a few memoirs, too. His description of the process of songwriting may give some insight into what "This Land Is Your Land" meant to him—and why he was able to remain such an important icon for future generations:
"There's a feeling in music and it carries you back down the road you have traveled and makes you travel it again. Sometimes when I hear music I think back over my days - and a feeling that is fifty-fifty joy and pain swells like clouds taking all kinds of shapes in my mind. Music is in all the sounds of nature and there never was a sound that was not music - the splash of an alligator, the rain dripping on dry leaves, the whistle of a train, a long and lonesome train whistling down, a truck horn blowing at a street corner speaker - kids squawling along the streets - the silent wail of wind and sky caressing the breasts of the desert. Life is this sound, and since creation has been a song. And there is no real trick of creating words to set to music, once you realize that the word is the music and the people are the song."