The folk song collective unsconscious
Neil Young’s album, Americana features Neil Young and Crazy Horse cover versions of 11 classic Americana folk songs that many of us grew up singing: Oh Susannah, Clementine, Tom Dula, Gallows Pole, Get A Job, Travel On, High Flyin’ Bird, Jesus’ Chariot, This Land Is Your Land, Wayfarin’ Stranger, and God Save The Queen. Or, I should say, we grew up singing the sanitized versions of many of these songs, which are considerably richer and darker in their original lyrics, as Young sings them.
You might wonder why an album of Americana includes “God Save The Queen,” the national anthem of the country whose yoke the United States threw off over 200 years ago. Well, for one thing, “Americana” as an idea or regional identifier includes all of North America, not just the U.S., and as a Canadian Young grew up singing “God Save the Queen” every day in school. In the U.S., of course, our national anthem is “The Star Spangled Banner,” but prior to 1931 the national anthem of the United States was “My Country Tis of Thee,” sung to the tune of, you guessed it, “God Save The Queen.”