Archive - Jul 4, 2011

Music Mundy – Fourth of July – Bruce Springsteen playing Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land

This morning a friend posted a link to a YouTube video of Bruce Springsteen playing Woody Guthrie’ “This Land is Your Land”.

Guthrie wrote this song in response to the jingoistic “God Bless America”, and included some fairly pointed verses that often get left out at elementary school assemblies. Springsteen highlights one of those verses:

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

This Fourth of July, Congress has been asked to stay in Washington to address the debt ceiling, something the Republicans repeatedly voted to increase under President Bush but are refusing to do under President Obama. The key sticking point is their refusal to ask those who have benefited most from the American Dream to help out those less fortunate. It seems as if they are abandoning the very American principles that helped make this country great, the dream of a better life, equal opportunity to everyone, and a willingness to help the less fortunate.

How do we understand this? It is sort of like the story of the man who ran up the credit card debt buying a bunch of guns. Later, his son got laid off, and his wife added to the debt trying to help the son. The man told his wife, that unless she stops spending so much on the son, he would make sure that the credit card bills do not get paid, forcing them into default and bankruptcy.

Already, S&P has lowered the U.S. credit rating outlook, and now they’ll drop the U.S. debt rating from AAA to D in August if the debt ceiling is not raised.

It seems like the credit agencies ought to be looking at something similar, with an across the board cut it the credit score of any congressperson who refuses to raise the debt ceiling with no strings attached., to be followed by lowering the credit score to the equivalent of bankruptcy of every congressperson who holds to that position if the country does, in fact, get forced into default on August 4th by their actions.

But back to the song: Woody Guthrie’s son, Arlo Guthrie wrote a famous song, “Alice’s Restaurant”, about the draft years ago. As part of a monologue incorporated into the song, he says,

And friends, somewhere in Washington enshrined in some little folder, is a study in black and white of my fingerprints. And the only reason I'm singing you this song now is cause you may know somebody in a similar situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if your in a situation like that there's only one thing you can do and that's walk into the shrink wherever you are, just walk in say "Shrink, You can get anything you want, at Alice's restaurant.". And walk out. You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and they won't take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them.
And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. They may think it's an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it's a movement.

And that's what it is, the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement, and all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it come's around on the guitar.

With feeling. So we'll wait for it to come around on the guitar, here and sing it when it does. Here it comes.

Well, maybe that’s what we need right now, the Alice’s Restaurant Anti-Default Movement. Well, there isn’t a draft board to sing this to, but there are Facebook pages. So…

Can you imagine fifty people a day, posting on their Facebook wall Bruce Springsteen singing Arlo’s dad’s song about this land being for all of us, and not just the corporate jet owners?

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

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