Sunday Song Lyric:
I have not done one of these in quite a while, but after seeing Neil Diamond in concert – and noticing the thunderous crowd response to “America” – I started thinking about the song’s unabashedly pro-immigration lyrics. “America” is a celebration of America as a land of hope and opportunity where people from other lands can come to prosper and pursue their dreams. Yet looking at recent polling numbers, it is hard to believe that a majority of Americans still share this vision. A large plurality, if not an absolute majority, of Americans believe in restricting the flow of immigration. Only a small minority believes more immigrants should be let in. I have no reason to believe the Neil Diamond concert audience was particularly unrepresentative on this score, and yet this song got a greater response than any other (with the possible exception of “Sweet Caroline”). Why? I’d suggest two non-mutually exclusive explanations.

First, it’s simply a good song that people like. Musical tastes need not be political. I certainly like many artists who espouse wrong-headed political views. Second, insofar as the song is an upbeat celebration of America, it strikes a patriotic chord among folks who have not thought much about the lyrics. It sounds like an unabashedly pro-America song, and that’s good enough for many listeners. (For another example of this phenomenon, see Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” – a song that sounds particularly celebratory and patriotic only until one considers the lyrics.)

In any event, here are the lyrics.

Far
We've been traveling far
Without a home
But not without a star

Free
Only want to be free
We huddle close
Hang on to a dream

On the boats and on the planes
They're coming to America
Never looking back again
They're coming to America

Home, don't it seem so far away
Oh, we're traveling light today
In the eye of the storm
In the eye of the storm

Home, to a new and a shiny place
Make our bed, and we'll say our grace
Freedom's light burning warm
Freedom's light burning warm

Everywhere around the world
They're coming to America
Every time that flag's unfurled
They're coming to America

Got a dream to take them there
They're coming to America
Got a dream they've come to share
They're coming to America

They're coming to America
They're coming to America
They're coming to America
They're coming to America
Today, today, today, today, today

My country 'tis of thee (Today)
Sweet land of liberty (Today)
Of thee I sing (Today)
Of thee I sing (Today)