Letter from America (song)

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"Letter from America"
Single by The Proclaimers
from the album This Is the Story
A-side "Letter From America (Band Version)"
B-side "Letter From America (Acoustic Version)"
"I'm Lucky"
Released 1987
Studio Comfort's Place, Lingfield, Surrey
Length 4:00
Label Chrysalis Records Ltd.
Songwriter(s) Reid & Reid
Producer(s) Gerry Rafferty & Hugh Murphy
The Proclaimers singles chronology
"Throw the 'R' Away"
"Letter from America"
"Make My Heart Fly"

"Letter From America" is a song written and performed by Scottish band The Proclaimers that appears on their 1987 debut album This Is the Story.


Lyrically, the song reflects Scotland's long history of emigration with Scots leaving behind economic depression in their own nation to start new lives in America and Canada. There is also an allusion to the enforced emigrations of the Highland Clearances when wealthy landowners forcibly evicted whole communities in order to turn their land over to the more profitable enterprise of raising sheep, and comparison of the impact of the Highland clearances to that of 1980s Thatcherite economic policies. Both of these themes are portrayed on the sleeve artwork for the single - an animated image of a man and woman from the time of the Highland Clearances superimposed onto a black and white photograph of the interior of Gartcosh steel works after its closure in 1986.

Single version[edit]

The song was later recorded, as a single, in a fuller arrangement with producer Gerry Rafferty and became a hit in November 1987, peaking at #2 and #3 on the Irish Singles Chart and UK singles chart in November 1987 and December 1987 respectively. The single was released in 7", 12", and 10" versions. The 10" vinyl single of the song featured an unusual double groove pressing, with the two versions - acoustic and orchestral - interwoven on the same side of the disc, so that placing the needle on the record would result in a random playing of one or the other version.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

The song is featured in the 1991 film The Commitments playing in the background at a wedding; it is cited as something approximating music after the music played by the trio performing at the wedding is criticised as "shite" by Jimmy Rabbitte.

In June 2008 the Reid brothers performed an acoustic rendition of the song as part of The-Fly.co.uk's ongoing 'In The Courtyard' sessions.[2]

In February 2014, the song was parodied by Scottish Labour Party leader Johann Lamont during a session of First Minister's Questions after the savings and investment business Standard Life said it may leave Scotland if the country voted to separate from the United Kingdom.[3] The Reid brothers (who are both vocal supporters of Scottish independence and the SNP) subsequently issued a statement criticising Lamont for "distorting our song as part of Labour's anti-independence cabal with the Tories".[4]