By beginning with Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” and then switching to Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is your Land,” Lady Gaga (Stefani Germanotta, 30) engaged in a subtle but very radical critique of the immigration and other policies of Donald J. Trump. Her switch at the end to quoting the pledge of allegiance with the ending phrase “with justice and liberty for all” was a further critique of Trump’s latent white nationalism. For all.
Ms. Germanotta knew that Guthrie, an American leftist and radical, had written “This Land is your Land” as a satire on Berlin’s “God Bless America,” which he considered insufficiently alarmed, and narrowly nationalistic. He first wrote the lyrics in February, 1940, before he took an epic train ride across the country to New York. Ronald Briley, in his article “Woody Sez”: Woody Guthrie, the “People’s Daily World,” and Indigenous Radicalism,” California History 84.1 (2006): 30-43, shows that Guthrie had a regular column in the West Coast Communist newspaper, The People’s Daily World, in the year leading up to his composition of the lyrics (the tune was lifted from the Carter family).
Guthrie was born and brought up in Oklahoma. His father had been a small town realtor who opposed socialism, but who lost his business in the mid-1920s. Then after his mother developed a severe mental illness that made her a threat to those around her, Guthrie went with his father to Texas, where Guthrie Sr. got a job managing a boarding house.