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This Land: Seeger Performs Guthrie's “Lost Verses” at the Inaugural

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On Sunday 18 January 2009, Pete Seeger led Barack Obama and an audience of 400,000 people in a spirited performance of “This Land is Your Land” at the We Are One concert. Seeger reinserted three verses that have been edited out of most public versions of Woody Guthrie's iconic anthem. Seeger's performance continued a long tradition of the song working on two levels: as a simple patriotic anthem for most listeners and a critical rallying cry for the organized Left. Although hardly a victory celebration, Seeger's performance at the Inaugural is perhaps symbolic of a new political and cultural opening for those who would challenge dominant neoliberal ideology. While that ideology continues to dominate the administration's agenda, perhaps voices critical of privatization, privation, and religious hypocrisy—perspectives represented in Guthrie's lost verses—will at least be allowed onto the national stage.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2009-07-01

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