Monday, July 24, 2017

America the Beautiful by Woodie Guthrie & Illus by Kathy Jakobsen

We have been roaming and rambling, which is why I haven't been on here very much this past month. It was a lovely month, packed full with all kinds of good things. And now we are back home, getting back to normal summer laziness. The girls are binge listening to the Anne of Green Gables books. Gilbert and Elsie have been outside getting wet more often than not. And I am contemplating the mountains of laundry that a month of merrymaking produces. 

I meant to do this book for the fourth of July, but clearly, I didn't. And since we drove all the way to California (but didn't get to see the redwoods) and back to New York, it seems like a good book to start with after a month of absenteeism. 

I love this song. And I love America and seeing the country and.... I just really like this book. 

It lives at my school library. I just happened to see it one day this spring and glommed onto it. Must. Read. Kids love song books. Totally going to sing this one with kids this fall. 

Woody Guthrie wrote this song in the Grapes of Wrath era, so it is appropriate to have a little nod to the exodus to California. 

I think the art works well here. Definitely a fold art sort of feel to it!

As I was walking that ribbon of highway, 
I saw above me that endless skyway. 

I saw below me that golden valley,
This land was made for you and me

California to New York. 

When we travel we aren't too big on landmarks. My husband dislikes cities in general (mostly this has to do with traffic and noise) so we don't generally hang out in or around cities. (I was just reading something about The Mixed Up Files turning fifty--Claudia's voice just came to me as I read that over. "...hang out in?! What kind of English is that?") The only exception we make is Las Vegas, since family lives there. 

So we have never seen the Golden Gate or the Statue of Liberty. It does strike me as funny that we live in New York and have all been to California, Washington, and Oregon, but never New York City.  Hmmm.....


Apparently Woody wrote this in a sarcastic response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America." Woody thought everyone's America wasn't quite as blessed as Berlin was portraying. 

On the chorus pages, the edges have additional pictures as well as Woody Guthrie lyrics in the corner squares. 

This lyric isn't quite as common, but I get a good kick out of it. 

As I went walking, I saw a sign there,
And on the it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing. 
That side was made for you and me.

This verse is equally uncommon--

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I saw my people
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Clearly, these lyrics are slightly more challenging to the capitalist nature of America. Questioning the concept of private property and then discussing the poor and destitute. Since this song was written in 1940 and recorded in 1944 (Woody sort of forgot about it for four years), you can see why artists might not have been anxious to record a song that may have sounded like it had communist leanings. 

Woody and his co-horts

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

Love this verse!

Fold out! I enjoy a good fold out. 

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