Oberlin Blogs

An Oberlin in the real world sighting

July 8, 2010

Zoe McLaughlin ’11

At church on Sunday, as usually happens, I played my violin. I do this every Sunday when I'm home. The pianist and I have a little system down: I go in slightly early, we pick a hymn, run through it once, talk about who will play what part, and we're good. Of course, when we actually play it, we tend to throw away everything we practiced and do something completely different.

Besides the pianist and I there was also a singer, and he's what I really want to talk about. He sang "This Land is Your Land," including one of the final two verses.

I've always liked "This Land is Your Land," mainly because in first grade we were allowed to use the pointer to point out things like the redwood forests and the gulf stream waters. Ah, yes, the simple joys of childhood. I clearly remember pointing to the middle of Canada for the redwood forests.

However, "This Land is Your Land" is more than the best song we ever sang in first grade. It was originally written as a protest song, as the last two verses clearly illustrate. That's why you so rarely hear them.

The topic of conversation in my co-op once turned in this direction some time last year. One of my friends expounded on the history of the song while I smiled and nodded, pleased that I'd picked such an Oberlin-esque song as a favorite. (Because, really, Oberlin is all about protest songs. Or protests in general.)

But it made me even more pleased to hear it in church. I started bouncing up and down in my pew, making bets with myself as to whether or not we'd get to hear the last verses. And, as you already know, we did. I bounced some more, waxed nostalgic about my co-op, and decided to write a blog post.

In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

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