The Obamas sang along to "This Land is Your Land," performed by Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger and a grandson of Seeger, as did the gigantic crowd that stretched from the Lincoln Memorial down to the Washington Monument.A new spirit indeed. For people like me who grew up in the post-Nixon era, informed by such American TV shows as US of Archie, WKRP in Cincinnati, Taxi, All in the Family, the Mary Tyler Moore show, and other non-right-wing gems that preceded the Reagan era, this is truly a breakthrough in the collective consciousness of America.
They also sang with Beyonce as she performed "My Country 'Tis of Thee."
Jon Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban, John Mellencamp and Irish band U2 also performed. Speakers included Steve Carell, Queen Latifah, Denzel Washington and Tiger Woods.
Sarah Rohrer, 28, from Dayton, Ohio was one of the thousands in the crowd despite freezing temperatures on a gray, overcast January day. Rohrer came to Washington on business and stayed a few extra days to come to the concert because she wanted to join in the excitement.
"There's a new spirit in being involved in politics," she said.
When Billy Bragg visited Woodie Guthry's Oklahoma birthplace as research for his Mermaid Avenue project, he ran into no end of hostility toward the very hint of socialism (seen as a threat) at virtually every turn.
Regarding that song the Obamas sang along with (from Wikipedia):
Guthrie was tired of the radio overplaying Irving Berlin's "God Bless America." He thought the song was unrealistic and complacent. Partly inspired by his experiences during a cross-country trip and his distaste for God Bless America, he penned his most famous song, "This Land Is Your Land" in February 1940. It was titled "God Blessed America." The melody is based on the gospel song "Oh My Loving Brother", best known as "Little Darling, Pal of Mine", sung by the country group The Carter Family. Guthrie signed the manuscript with the comment "All you can write is what you see, Woody G., N.Y., N.Y., N.Y.". He protested class inequality in the final verses:
"In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;
By the relief office, I'd seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me?
As I went walking, I saw a sign there,
And on the sign there, It said "no trespassing." [In another version, the sign reads "Private Property"]
But on the other side, it didn't say nothing!
That side was made for you and me
Well I guess sometimes, things really do come full circle. It's nice to be here to bear witness to that.