Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Sunday, March 13, 2005


Before going on my own to see Plaster the other night, the whole family went to a dinner and sing-along hosted by the Seattle Labor Chorus, which a good friend sings with. They opened with a welcoming song, a cappella, sounding good, 15 or 20 singers, good and strong and solid simple harmonies. And then we all sang together, with words projected from a computer. They had a list of songs from which to request. Since the 2-year-old is crazy about Woody Guthrie (we listen once or twice a day), and he knows a lot of the words to “This Land Is Your Land,” of course I requested that.

Before I started listening to Woody daily, I sang the song as everybody does. In the standard version, the last three words of the chorus and every verse are sung, in the lingo of solfege, ti-re-do -- you AND me, with the word AND the high note of the arc. Woody doesn’t sing it like that. He sings, ti-ti-do. The YOU and the AND come on the same note, which then slides up to the ME.

The common ti-re-do version has a cheeriness that bugs me, now that I know Woody’s so well. Emphasizing the AND feels mindlessly pedantic. Woody’s version of the melody assumes that you and me, we’re together -- he doesn’t make a big deal of the conjunction. The stoic assumption in Woody’s version of the melody gives the song more force.
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