What’s the best political song of all time? The folks at the New Statesmen believe it’s “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie. Here are the later lyrics, which are probably less well known than the opening.
As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.
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?
Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.
Is the New Statesmen list a good one? Or is it too weighted toward older songs and the musical preferences of aging boomers? Luke Lewis at NME weighs in:
Now it’s traditional at this point to belly-ache about the fact there’s no hip-hop, only three female artists in the list blah-di-blah. But, you know, it’s political magazine, not a music mag, so it’s not like they were gonna acknowledge riot grrrl.
What is telling though, is the absence of any songs from the past twenty years (apart from ‘Killing In The Name’), and it’s always a fault of these lists that they completely ignore metal – I’d argue Metallica’s ‘One’ and System Of A Down’s ‘BYOB’ are as incendiary protest anthems as you’ll find anywhere.