America (Neil Diamond song)
|Single by Neil Diamond|
|from the album The Jazz Singer soundtrack|
|B-side||"Songs of Life"|
|Length||3:27 (single version)
4:19 (album version)
|Neil Diamond singles chronology|
"America" (also known as "They're Coming to America" or "Coming to America") is the name of a patriotic song written and originally recorded by Neil Diamond, released in 1980 as part of The Jazz Singer soundtrack album. The song was a hit single in the United States in 1981, reaching number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and was Diamond's sixth number one on the Adult Contemporary chart. Billboard also rated it as the #62 pop single overall for 1981. Although the single version was a studio recording, it sounds live because of crowd overdubs in the song.
The song's theme is a positive interpretation of the history of immigration to the United States, both during the early 1900s and today. Combining Diamond's typically powerful melody, dynamic arrangement, and bombastic vocal, it ends with an interpolation of the traditional patriotic song "My Country, 'Tis of Thee". In Diamond's concerts, the song is a very popular number both home and abroad, with a large United States flag often displayed from the rafters on cue to the lyric, "Every time that flag's unfurled / They're coming to America."
The song has been used in a number of contexts, including as a theme song for Michael Dukakis's 1988 presidential campaign and in promotion of the 1996 Olympics. Diamond also sang it at the centennial rededication of the Statue of Liberty.
Shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Diamond modified the lyrics to "America" slightly during live performances. Instead of "They're comin' to America," towards the end, it became "Stand up for America."
It was the second song played on WHTZ New York. Also featured in Born in East L.A. in the scene where dozens of immigrants storm the Mexico-U.S. border and get past the Border Patrol, successfully making it into the U.S.
The song was covered in a scene in Glee, in the season 5 episode "City of Angels" which aired in March 2014. In the plot, the glee club performed it as the apex of their performance at a national show choir competition, saying it was the favorite song of the character Finn, who was played by Cory Monteith, an actor who had died the prior summer.
All The King's Men performed their version of the song while it was still hot on the charts on the variety show, Stairway to Stardom. Performance was likely in 1981 though the YouTube Video attributes it to 1984. The band, fronted by Steve Luisi, is dressed to the 9's in what appears to be hand-me-downs from stylish fathers. Luisi is a ball of fire as he shimmies and shakes in a space no wider than a phone booth. In 2015, several groups began to play the version to commemorate Columbus Day.
- Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 78.
- "Pop Singles". Billboard Magazine. December 26, 1980. p. YE-9. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
- Laura Jackson. Neil Diamond: His Life, His Music, His Passion (ECW Press, 2005): p. 165.
- Isaac Guzman, "American Icon: Neil Diamond shows his colors at Garden concert." Daily News Feature Writer.
- Scott Holleran. "Neil Diamond Diamond Shines in Red, White and Blue" (2001). Los Angeles Daily News.
- Strauss, Neil (2001-11-19). "The Pop Life; After the Horror, Radio Stations Pull Some Songs". Arts (The New York Times). Retrieved 2008-08-04.
- "Finding Paradise overview". Allmusic.com.