America (2016)

This evening at bowling someone played Neil Diamond’s “America” on the jukebox.  I never saw “The Jazz Singer.”  I don’t even know the story, much less the context for the song as performed in the motion picture.  I’ve never cared especially for the song, but for some reason, hearing it now struck a chord.  The lyrics tell the story of how this country came together from, basically, the dregs of everywhere else on this planet.  For a long time, it was “y’all come!”  And all were welcome.  There have been some very dark times in our nation’s history, to be sure.  I won’t romantically gloss over all of that.  But we have always invited those like us to join us.  From Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus”, which is engraved on the pedestal of our very own Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Reading recent headlines, it would seem that Neil Diamond’s “America” doesn’t exist anymore.  If that’s true, I mourn that loss.  Still, it’s a catchy tune–an anthem, really!  And I think the melody deserves to live on.  But it will need new lyrics.  And so, with humble apology to Neil Diamond, I offer “America (2016)”:

We all travelled so far
To our new home
Away from any Czar


We cut down all the trees
And tamed this land
While writing our own creed


On the boats and on the planes
We all came to America
Welcomed all who shared our pain
They all came to America


We forgot from whence we came
Now if they are not the same
We don’t want them here
We don’t want them here


All they want is a new place
It is to our great disgrace
That we greet them with fear
That we greet them with fear


Everyone around the world:
Stop coming to America!
Just in case you haven’t heard:
We fear you in America.


We don’t care where else you go,
Stop coming to America!
You don’t fit the status quo,
Stop coming to America.


Stop coming to America!
Stop coming to America!
Stop coming to America!
Stop coming to America!
Go ‘way, Go ‘way
Go ‘way, Go ‘way, Go ‘way!


My country used to be (Go ‘way!)
A place where all would be (Go ‘way!)
Welcomed with Love (Go ‘way!)
We’ve really lost