This is the national anthem we actually know the words to. Americans sing it at school and summer camp; Bruce Springsteen sang it at President Obama's inauguration. Yet Woody Guthrie's song was once branded anti-American, even Communist.
Pete Seeger tells Kurt Andersen how Guthrie wrote it as a sarcastic response to "God Bless America," and soul singer Sharon Jones explains what the song means to her as a descendant of slaves. Leftist, environmentalist, nationalist, or patriotic – "This Land" allows everyone to sing it their way. We find out why some controversial lines about private property disappeared, and hear the song in Swedish, Hebrew, and Ojibwa.
â?? More "Land:" Kurt visits Pete Seeger at home and Sharon Jones describes the special meaning the lyrics hold for her – all on our American Icons feature page.
(Originally aired October 1, 2010)