Phosphorescent – “This Land Is Your Land” (Woody Guthrie Cover)
President Donald Trump’s 100th day in office is today, which means Secretly Group and 30 Songs 30 Days’ resistance initiative Our First 100 Days comes to an end. Over the course of the project we’ve heard exclusive tracks from folks like Angel Olsen, PWR BTTM, Toro Y Moi, Hurray For The Riff Raff, EMA, Flock Of Dimes, Julien Baker, Jens Lekman, Protomartyr, Told Slant, Steven Gunn, Jay Som, and more. Now Matthew Houck’s folk group Phosphorescent closes us out with a shimmering cover of Woody Guthrie’s iconic protest song “This Land Is Your Land.” You can take a listen below and buy the entire project at Bandcamp. Profits will benefit charities in support of climate solutions, women’s rights, immigration, and fairness.
Here’s Houck’s statement on his contribution:
Sometime about a year ago I heard “This Land Is Your Land” And it brought me to tears
Like maybe most Americans I guess I’ve known it forever It’s one of those magic ones that snuck through somehow And slipped into the jet-stream of collective consciousness Just like Woody Guthrie himself did
Somebody out there on the internet had made a collage of footage Of thousands of folks singing this song together at Bernie Sanders rallies Voices raised together in a spirit of generosity; Then juxtaposed it with footage from Trump rallies from that time People punching, spitting, yelling So much hate and anger So much ugliness; Everyone at ease with the empty mean-ness of it all; Everyone agreeing on impotent vile-ness As basic human-ness
There were a handful of Phosphorescent shows around that time And I started singing This Land Is Your Land during the set But it didn’t then and still doesn’t now feel political I’m not sure I fully grasp what constitutes “political”
The other night over a drink with a friend It came up that I was gonna record this song for this 100 Days benefit “Oh that’ll do it,” he joked, “That’ll fix everything.” And I laughed cuz I reckon he is right in a lot of ways And I can be as jaded as anybody Depending on the hour, day, mood But I don’t want to live there
So anyway, what is this politics? Where does personal end and politics begin? Are all songs political? Is this a political song? Regardless, does an 80-year-old folk song have any purchase in 2017? Do “most Americans” know it? Does that matter? Does this / Can this do anything As relates to the 100th day in office Of a “President” of a “Nation” ?
I don’t know
I only know that it speaks to that looming thing That has stayed near me my whole life; That thing that wants nothing to do with fear Or selfishness or pettiness or greed; That thing which blindly and stubbornly Persists in believing in the sweetness of this world
It speaks to that thing and says, “Stay a little longer hey, This land was made for you and me”
April 27 2017