21 “This land is your land” (2017) by Los jornaleros del norte—Fences

Before the song

1. The song lyrics are represented in the word cloud below. In groups, classify the words in categories. Can you guess what the song is about? Share your ideas with the rest of the class.

2. The band´s name is “Los Jornaleros del Norte.” Read their website and watch this video presentation to know more about the band and their music project. In groups of three, answer the questions below. Then discuss your answers with the rest of the class.

2.1. What event led to the band´s first song? When did the rest of members joined? What do all of them have in common? What supports and challenges have they encountered on their music journey?

2.2. What are the band´s expressed goals? Do you know any other band or singer who declare similar goals?

2.3. Los Jornaleros say that, with their music, they wish to help people “to create a culture of liberation, a truly popular culture that addresses their daily needs and problems.” And later, they explain what they mean by “a truly popular culture” when they mention that “this popular culture materializes in the capacity that it has to organize, denounce, raise consciousness and mobilize.” What do you think about this perspective on art, in general, and music, in particular?

Go over the list of bands and singers you prepared for questions 2.2. Can their music be considered as the “truly popular culture” defined by the Jornaleros?

2.4. On their website, the band wrote: “Los Jornaleros del Norte are not organizing in a vacuum, they are part of a larger effort to organize a Day Laborers Union which would fight for our own human and civil rights.” It seems that their musical project only makes sense if it is part of a larger political movement. Read the mission and values of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and go over the names in the board of directors: What band members are also part of the organization? What principles and values do the organization and the band have in common? Any other links between the two of them?

3. The band talks about jornaleros (day laborers) in their website and video presentation. How is the work and life of these workers described? What are the problems that specifically affects day laborers?


Song and music video

4. Listen to the song and watch the music video on YouTube.

5. Below you have the lyrics of “This Land is my Land” by Los Jornaleros del Norte. Click on the links to know more about the references in the text.

Was a high wall there that tried to stop me,
a sign was painted, said “Private Property,”
but on the back side it didn’t say nothing.
This land was made for you and me.

Y llegaron…. Los Jornaleros del Norte. (And here they are… Los Jornaleros del Norte).

This land is your land, this land is my land
from California to the New York islands,
from the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters.
This land was made for you and me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway,
I saw below me that golden valle.
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps,
to the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts,
and all around me a voice was sounding.
This land was made for you and me.

This land is your land, this land is my land
from California to the New York islands,
from the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters.
This land was made for you and me.

¿De quién es este mundo? (Who does this world belong to?)
No es suyo, tampoco es mío. (It is not theirs, it is not mine either)
Del mar hasta el río, somos los niños de [inaudible] (From the Ocean to the river, we are the children of [inaudible])
Pachamama nos da la land of the free. (Pachamama gives us the land of the free)
Home of the valientes, (Home of the braves)
pueblos indígenas los originarios residentes (Native peoples, first habitants)
y pa´ siempre los herederos, (And, forever, heirs)
mayas, aztecas, piscador y jornaleros (Mayan, Aztecs, handhelds, and day laborers)
no dividieron la tierra, (Didn’t divide the land)
miles de años sin la frontera. (Thousand of years without the border)
Califa del New York State, (New York State Califa)
ni barrera, nahualt, or [unknown] (No border, nahuatl nor [inaudible])
Mi América lleva acento en la e. (My America has an accent on the e)
White supremacists cannot stay.
Quieren colonizar la gente, (They wanna colonize the people)
por más que traten, (No matter how hard they try)
el pueblo está presente. (The people are here)
Dientes velados, puro alarde, (Veiled teeth, pure bragging)
nuestro coraje los hace cobardes. (Our courage turns them cowards)
Mira que arde el barrio con nuevas fuerzas: (The neighborhood rouses with new strengths)
[inaudible],[inaudible] y bolivarios. (…and bolivarians).
Despertando compañeros [inaudible] (Wake up, brothers and sisters [inaudible])
Liberando, sin odio, sin miedos. (Break free, without hate, without fears)

Was a high wall there that tried to stop me,
a sign was painted said: “Private Property,”
but on the back side it didn’t say nothing.
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
and the wheat fields waving and dust clouds rolling,
a voice was chanting as the fog was lifting.
This land was made for you and me.

Nobody living can ever stop me,
as I go walking that freedom highway,
nobody living can ever make me turn back.
This land was made for you and me.

This land is your land, this land is my land
from California to New York islands,
from the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters.
This land was made for you and me.
This land was made for you and me.
This land was made for you and me.


After listening to the song

In groups of three or four, answer the questions below to know more about the themes in the song. Share your answers with the rest of the class.

6. The land: What natural elements are mentioned in the song? What emotions does this description of nature provoke? The poetic voice travels freely through that land, but, once in a while, she mentions obstacles to her freedom. What are those obstacles?

7. The poetic voice speaks in the first person (I) and addresses a second person (you). Besides that, the poetic voice sings both in English and Spanish. In the music video, the poetic voice sings behind many and different faces, showing herself as a group. If we take into consideration all the above, who are “I” and “you” in this song?

8. This song is not an original by Los Jornaleros del Norte, but a Latino-rhythm-version of a popular song in the American folk genre: “This Land is your Land” (1940) by Woody Guthrie. Read about the original and listen to it in this article. Compare the different versions by Guthrie and the one by Los Jornaleros: What is different? What is the same? In your opinion, what does the stanza in Spanish add to the English stanzas?

The Spanish stanza refers to the native peoples as the first habitants in America. Keith Secola, Anishinabe composer and singer, made his own version in Ojibwe and you can listen to it here.

9. The song by Los Jornaleros del Norte, with its Latin American roots, appeals to Latino immigrants who make up the majority of day laborers in California (the state where the band was born). However, when Guthrie wrote his song, he was thinking of a different group of immigrants: those arriving at California from different areas in the US and who received the name of “okies”. Read the article in Wikipedia about “okies” and answer the questions: Who were the “okies”? What made them migrate from the Midwest to the West? What were the working and living conditions of these immigrants like? What was the attitude of Californians toward these immigrants? Can you find similarities between the lives of Midwestern immigrants in the 30s and those of Latin American immigrants today? And differences?

Final assignment  

10. Moving to a new home, city or country is an exciting experience but it can lead to many uncertainties as well. Write a short composition explaining an experience when you changed your place of residence. Guiding questions: How did you feel when you left your old place? What activities were the most difficult in the new place? And the most exciting? What did you miss from your old house/city/country? What were the new people you met like? How did they behave around you? What did you learn about yourself and other people?


Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española. Diccionario de americanismos. www.asale.org/obras-y-proyectos/diccionarios/diccionario-de-americanismos.

Bio. Los Jornaleros del Norte. http://losjornalerosdelnorte.com/bio/. 5 Feb. 2021.

“California.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Feb. 2021, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California. 5 Feb. 2021.

“Gulf Stream.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 2 Feb. 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_Stream. 5 Feb. 2021.

“Los Jornaleros del Norte (The Day Laborer Band) EPK Video.” YouTube, uploaded by DLON Videos, 11 Oct. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNCWvuzFW_8&feature=emb_logo. 5 Feb. 2021.

NDLON. National Day Laborer Organizing Network.ndlon.org/about-us/our-history/. 4 Feb. 2021

“Okie.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Feb. 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okie. 5 Feb. 2021.

“Redwood National and State Parks.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Feb. 2021,  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redwood_National_and_State_Parks. 5 Feb. 2021.

Secola, Keith. Native Americana: A Coup Stick. Akina Records, 2005. Sound recording.

“This Land Is Your Land.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 7 Feb. 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Land_Is_Your_Land#Original_1940_lyrics. 9 Feb. 2021.

“‘This Land’ (is Your Land) by Keith Secola of the Anishinabe Nation. Native American performance.” Youtube, uploaded by Passion4Spike, 14 Oct. 2012. www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktixvPthiVs. 7 Feb. 2021.

“This Land is Your Land by Los Jornaleros del Norte.” YouTube, uploaded by Latino Rebels, 30 May 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=59N8hVKiRjM. 5 febrero 2021.

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