Everybody knows This Land is Your Land, but we don't usually sing down to the last verses where the point Woody was making back in the 1930's seems particularly relevant in 2010:
In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.
Here's Pete shouting out the verse at Obama's inauguration.
Pete sang this verse at the inauguration, too.
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.
Obama himself sings along, but everybody knows that his power is limited no matter what's really in his heart. Big Oil has big influence in the White House no matter who the president is. Big Money has controlled the government since Woody wrote this dang song, and long before that as well. Coal miners in the UK started unionizing in the 1830's to fight pretty much the same bastards who control BP today. Before that, I think workers just died -- like the folks who died before they ever saw a penny of the money Exxon was supposed to pay in compensation for the Valdez incident. Nothing shuts somebody up like dying, and Big Money can afford to wait.
While Pete is clapping and encouraging the people on the Mall to sing along, his grandson is really carrying the song, much like Arlo has been carrying the song for Woody, and now Alro's kids are singing. One of them plays ukulele in a band with Willie Nelson's daughter. Generations of folk singers fighting the Imperialists who try to own us all. Notably, Pete didn't encourage Obama to sing along. Pete rallied the people on the Mall because if change will ever really come, the people are going to have to demand it. Generation after generation after generation.
This fight has been going on for thousands of years. Both Jesus and the Buddha offered an alternative path, and the message is simple: Stop Being Assholes. Sadly, assholes abound. Not only in our government and on Wall Street, but also across the world - like in Israel where activists armed with kitchen knives are killed execution style by the military and in Afghanistan where girls are beaten for trying to escape arranged marriages to old men (CNN video at Change Happens).
Maybe this generation is lost. I keep thinking of that dumb ass Jaded saw up in Nebraska waving a confederate flag as he filled up his truck at BP because that dumb ass represents our slide into Idiocracy. I'm worried that the assholes will use the Idiocracy for fun and profit, effectively stomping the rest of us underground where we survive in small, isolated pods until we look out of our burrows like groundhogs in twenty years to see if it's safe to go outside again. Reverend Billy has already noted that the BP disaster has become a Reality show complete with ratings and ad revenues.
Some people have made noise about Obama indoctrinating America's youth to Socialism - as if that could actually happen in corporate controlled America. Those people need to know that there are teachers around this country quietly and intentionally passing on the message to the next generation, hoping to raise a crop of youngsters who will keep fighting these bastards even as they are stomping us into the ground.
At school, we practiced The Garden Song (Mallet, 1975) for a couple of weeks in preparation for the sing on the last day of school. The oldest kids at our school are six years old. My kids are two and three year olds.
I watch my kids as if they are the seeds that need protecting - so they can live to fight another day.
Inch by inch, row by row
Please bless these seeds I sow
Please keep them safe below
'Till the rain comes tumbling down
Pullin' weeds and pickin' stones
We are made of dreams and bones
Need a place to call my own
'Cause the time is close at hand
Grain for grain, sun and rain
Find my way in nature's chain
Till my body and my brain
Tell the music of the land
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