Thursday, February 21, 2008

This Land Is Your Land

I’m afraid to allow myself to think it in any coherent manner, as in words, let alone commit it to writing, but what the hell. Right now, my migraine is just a little bruised-feeling patch above my left eyeball. Usually, though, the day starts out looking promising enough. It takes about half an hour for the migraine to wake up and jump back in. This is why I generally try not to think a lot if my head isn’t hurting. I don’t want to wake it up.

But I’ve been having thoughts, not just about migraines. All the Arlo-mania in my brain, even the lizard part of my brain, has had me listening to “This Land Is Your Land” to the point that it’s number two on my iPod. You’ve got to understand that I have about 8,000 songs on the thing. Most of them are just there because I’ve got so many CDs and so much room on the iPod that it seems criminal not to put them there, even if I never actually listen to them. But I would’ve thought I was too cool to have “This Land Is Your Land” at the top of the chart. See, I’ve always considered my iPod a barometer for my psychological state. Last February, it was Dylan’s “Ain’t Talkin’” from Modern Times. Last February sucked. Maybe sometime I’ll go into that. But my point is that it occurred to me that, you know, for a tiny, poor, honest-to-God hobo, Woody Guthrie must’ve had some kind of high self-esteem. I don’t know any of his songs that put other people down, accusing anyone of anything, but somehow they are all declarations of his right to be in this world, and probably none of his songs comes right out and says it any better than “This Land Is Your Land.” Because it’s not just that he’s telling me, or whoever’s listening, “Hey, kid, you’re okay. Your existence is not a crime, no matter how many people are annoyed by your way of life.” He’s also giving me a manifesto of my own, so I can walk up and down the street singing “This Land Is Your Land,” staking my own claim, marking this as communal territory, while inviting the neighbors to do the same. I don’t actually do this outside. Just once, right after the Arlo concert.

I guess what I’m saying is that if one crazy little hobo can be so audacious, maybe I can, too. Thanks, Woody.

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