Read time: 2 minutes

The House I Live In

A fascinating story.

H/T debcoop. This 1945 short film was written by Albert Maltz, one of the Hollywood Ten, and directed by Mervyn LeRoy.

A young Frank Sinatra is in the studio, recording with a full orchestra. He records a take of "If You Are But a Dream," then breaks for a smoke.

He steps into an alley behind the building, where he sees nearly a dozen kids chasing one smaller boy. Frank stops them, and asks why they're fighting with him. They tell him it's because of the boy's religion (he's Jewish).

So Frank asks if they're Nazis.

He explains a few things about America, blood banks, World War II, and teamwork. Then he sings "The House I Live In". Drops mic.

Unfortunately, there's more to the story. They changed the lyrics.

From Wikipedia:

The music was written by Earl Robinson. Robinson was later blacklisted during the McCarthy era for being a member of the Communist Party. He also wrote campaign songs for the presidential campaigns of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Henry A. Wallace, and, in 1984, Jesse Jackson. The lyrics were written in 1943 by Abel Meeropol[4] under the pen name Lewis Allan. In 1957 Meeropol adopted two boys, Michael and Robert, who had been orphaned when their parents Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed in 1953.[4] Meeropol was enraged that the second verse of the song was not used in the film. When the film premiered, he protested against the deletion of the verse referring to "my neighbors white and black".

The House I Live In (as originally written):

What is America to me?
A name, a map, the flag I see,
a certain word, “Democracy”
What is America to me?

The house I live in, the friends that I have found,
The folks beyond the railroad and the people all around,
The worker and the farmer, the sailor on the sea,
The men who built this country, that’s America to me.

The house I live in, my neighbors white and black,
The people who just came here, or from generations back,
The Town Hall and the soap box, the torch of Liberty,
A place to speak my mind out, that’s America to me.


↓ Story continues below ↓

The words of old Abe Lincoln, of Jefferson and Paine,
Of Washington and Douglas, and the task that still remains,
The little bridge at Concord, where Freedom’s fight began,
Our Gettysburg and Midway, and the story of Bataan.

The house I live in, the goodness everywhere,
A land of wealth and beauty with enough for all to share,
A house that we call Freedom, the home of Liberty,
and the promise for tomorrow, that’s America to me.

The town I live in, the street, the house, the room,
The pavement of the city, or a garden all in bloom,
The church, the school, the clubhouse, a million lights I see,
But especially the people, that’s America to me.
But especially the people, that’s the true America.

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service (revised 3/17/2016) for information on our posting policy.