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Origin[]

Woody Guthrie 2

Woody Guthrie, half-length portrait, seated, facing front, playing a guitar that has a sticker attached reading: This Machine Kills Fascists. Photography dated 8 March 1943.

Roaming Guitarist is based off on the song "This Land Is Your Land". it's one of the United States' most famous folk songs. Its lyrics were written by Woody Guthrie in 1940 based on an existing melody, in critical response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America", which Guthrie considered unrealistic and complacent. Tired of hearing Kate Smith sing it on the radio, he wrote a response originally called "God Blessed America". Guthrie varied the lyrics over time, sometimes including more overtly political verses in line with his sympathetic views of communism, than appear in recordings or publications.

Guthrie wrote the song in 1940 and recorded it in 1944. The song was not published until 1945, when it was included in a mimeographed booklet of ten songs with typed lyrics and hand drawings. The booklet was sold for twenty-five cents, and copyrighted in 1951.

The first known professionally printed publication was in 1956 by Ludlow Music (now a unit of The Richmond Organization), which administered the publishing rights to Guthrie's song. Ludlow later issued versions with piano and guitar accompaniments.

In 2002, it was one of 50 recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.

Original 1944 lyrics[]

   This land is your land, this land is my land
   From California to the New York Island
   From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
   This land was made for you and me.
   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.
   I roamed and I rambled and I followed my footsteps
   To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
   While all around me a voice was sounding
   This land was made for you and me.
   When the sun came shining, and I was strolling
   And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
   A voice was chanting, As the fog was lifting,
   This land was made for you and me.
   This land is your land, this land is my land
   From California to the New York Island
   From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
   This land was made for you and me.
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