Music Friday: Bruce Springsteen's Immigrant Tribute Spotlights Gold and Diamonds

January 21, 2022

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, 20-time Grammy winner Bruce Springsteen connects gold and diamonds to the immigrant experience in his 2006 jig-style tribute, "American Land."

For many generations, immigrants from around the world have come to the US filled with hopes and dreams of a better life. The rumor that American streets were "paved with gold" gave them the added incentive to overcome fears of leaving their homelands for an opportunity to prosper in what Springsteen calls the "American Land."

Springsteen adds his own take to the "paved with gold" theme, singing, "Gold comes rushing out the rivers straight into your hands / When you make your home in the American Land."

In the next verse, he adds, "There's diamonds in the sidewalk, there's gutters lined in song / Dear I hear that beer flows through the faucets all night long / There's treasure for the taking, for any hard working man / Who will make his home in the American Land."

As a socially conscious defender of the working class, Springsteen has been giving a voice to the voiceless for more than 50 years. He originally wrote "American Land" for his 2006 Seeger Sessions Tour and then recorded it as bonus track for Wrecking Ball, his blockbuster 2012 album that went to #1 in 16 countries. During the Seeger Sessions Tour, Springsteen closed many of his shows with a rousing, Irish jig-style performance of "American Land."

Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen was born in Long Branch, NJ, in 1949. Inspired by the Beatles' performance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, the 15-year-old Springsteen bought his first guitar for $18.95 at a Western Auto Appliance store. He played small venues with a number of bands throughout the late '60s and then caught the attention of a Columbia Records talent scout in 1972. Springsteen's debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., was released in October of that same year.

Springsteen has sold more than 150 million records worldwide. He's earned 20 Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes, an Academy Award, and a Special Tony Award for Springsteen on Broadway. In 1999, he was inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Please check out the video of Springsteen and The Seeger Sessions Band performing "American Land" live in Dublin in 2006. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along…

"American Land"
Written by Bruce Springsteen. Performed by Bruce Springsteen and The Seeger Sessions Band.

What is this land America so many travel there
I'm going now while I'm still young my darling meet me there
Wish me luck my lovely I'll send for you when I can
And we'll make our home in the American Land

Over there all the woman wear silk and satin to their knees
And children dear, the sweets, I hear, are growing on the trees
Gold comes rushing out the rivers straight into your hands
When you make your home in the American Land

There's diamonds in the sidewalk, there's gutters lined in song
Dear I hear that beer flows through the faucets all night long
There's treasure for the taking, for any hard working man
Who will make his home in the American Land

I docked at Ellis Island in a city of light and spires
Wondered to the valley of red-hot steel and fire
We made the steel that built the cities with our sweat and two hands
And we made our home in the American Land

There's diamonds in the sidewalk, there's gutters lined in song
Dear I hear that beer flows through the faucets all night long
There's treasure for the taking, for any hard working man
Who will make his home in the American Land

The McNicholas, the Posalskis, the Smiths, Zerillis, too
The Blacks, the Irish, Italians, the Germans and the Jews
Come across the water a thousand miles from home
With nothing in their bellies but the fire down below

They died building the railroads worked to bones and skin
They died in the fields and factories names scattered in the wind
They died to get here a hundred years ago they're still dying now
The hands that built the country we’re always trying to keep down

There's diamonds in the sidewalk, there's gutters lined in song
Dear I hear that beer flows through the faucets all night long
There's treasure for the taking, for any hard working man
Who will make his home in the American Land
Who will make his home in the American Land
Who will make his home in the American Land

Credit: Screen capture via Youtube.com / Bruce Springsteen.