Our Promised Land

Written as part of an opera, “Weedpatch” for the North Cambridge Family Opera. The opera tells the story of how the people at the Arvin Federal Migrant Camp in Arvin, California, built their own school in the late 30’s. Arvin was visited by Woody Guthrie and a young Pete Seeger, and in the opera, a Woody-like figure visits the camp and leads them in this song. I tried to keep it as close to Woody as I could. 

Well, that dust storm screamed and hollered
Shrieking like some devil band
Blew us out of Oklahoma
Headed for some promised land

Yeah, we blew in on that dust storm
Filled with dirt and wind and strife
Did a thousand miles of traveling
Looking for a better life

O’er the mountains, through the forests
‘Cross the deserts sparkling sands
Our voices rising like a chorus
Singing of our promised land

Well they meet you at the state line
And they ask you why you come
And they tell you turn around now
Head on back to where you’re from

You know Moses led his people
And he parted stormy seas
But I been thinking lately
Those folks were just like you and me


You can tell me you ain’t hiring
You can turn your back on me
But you can’t stop me from thinking
‘Bout the way things ought to be

Oh yeah, you may have your lawyers
And your bankers and your guns
But this land where we all living
Still belongs to everyone


© Bill Harley, all rights reserved. Reprints with permission only.


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