This is a tribute to immigration in America, where people from all over the world were welcome to come and seek opportunity. Diamond grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where many Europeans arrived. His grandparents were immigrants: on his father's side they came from Poland, and on his mother's side from Russia.
Michael Dukakis used this as his theme song in his failed 1988 Presidential campaign to emphasize his own ethnic origins as a third-generation American.
Suggestion credit: Ken - Louisville, KY
Diamond wrote this for the 1980 movie The Jazz Singer, where he starred as a young Jewish man who must defy his father to follow his dreams of becoming a singer.
Will Ferrell used to impersonate Diamond on Saturday Night Live. In one bit where they did a fake Behind The Music, Ferrell (as Diamond) said this song was "fueled creatively by my massive hatred of immigrants."
Reedy The Weasel from Adelaide, AustraliaWhile hesitant to blatantly disagree with the interpretation of other, I would think that the line about following a star is unlikely to refer the the Jewish Star of David. I’m pretty sure Diamond intended this to refer to a following a single star in a navigational sense. This reading would mean the line could be paraphrased as “we have turned our backs on our place of origin, and are steering toward a new life led by a promise”
Polly M from Gainesville,gaJazz Singer is my all time favorite movie ever. Love Neil Diamond!!!
Dusk Blackman from Albany, Georgia (u.s.a.)He's definitely a vintage Michael. I remember this song when Atlanta held the summer Olympics July of 1996. I was in Albany, Georgia near the train station, turned into a museum, when the torch bearer passed us and coming to America was over the loudspeaker. I was overwhelmed with joy. I still live in Albany.
Kristopher from Mount Prospect, IlI think "America" is more specifically about the immigration of Jews to America after WWII. Specifically the second line says "Without a home, but not without a star", referring to the Star of David, otherwise he would have said "stars" in reference to the 50 on the US flag. His other line, "we're traveling light today" would seem to refer to people coming with nothing, as opposed to those coming here with all of their belongings. This makes sense as many Jews liberated from their interment camps or ghettos would have come to the US with little to no belongings at all.
Coy from Palestine, TxJust used on "The Big Bang Theory" sang by Wolowicz and Amy Fara- Fowler.
Michael Scott from Punta Gorda, FlThis was a popular song that Gov. Dukakis used to pre-empt his arrival to his presidential election ralleys. They would play it over loud speakers as he would arrive and be walking up the stage platform.
Farrah from Elon, NcI adore this song!!!
Steven from Sunnyvale, CaBob Rivers (twistedtunes.com) did a parody ("Sneak Into America") with a similar subject, except it's about illegal immigration.
"Bittersweet Symphony" by The Verve samples an obscure orchestral arrangement of the 1965 Rolling Stones song "The Last Time." The Verve had to sign away most of the royalties before they could release the song.