The forgotten fourth verse, included in the 1944 recording, feels particularly prescient in the infancy of a new administration led by a president who has imposed a travel ban on citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries. Consider that President Trump signed executive actions to build a border wall with Mexico, and it sounds downright prophetic.
There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me.
The sign was painted, said ‘Private Property.’
But on the backside, it didn’t say nothing.
This land was made for you and me.
The meaning is as blunt as the sign he sings about. America claims to be for everyone, but it isn’t.
Meanwhile, the sixth verse, which was scribbled on that original lyrics sheet but doesn’t appear in the 1944 recording, is even more politically charged. This lyrical quartet is sharply critical of America, hinting at an unfulfilled promise that the government would take care of its citizens.
One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple,
by the relief office I saw my people.
As they stood hungry,
I stood there wondering if God blessed America for me.
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