The Immigrant

Album: Sedaka's Back (1974)
Charted: 22


  • Sedaka wrote this song with the lyricist Phil Cody, who also wrote the Carpenters hit "Solitaire." Cody told Songfacts: "I wanted to write a song for my dad. My dad came to this country; he wanted to be a singing star. He worked in the chorus of the Metropolitan Opera before he got married, and then put down his singing career to become a tradesman. My dad and I, up until I was about 28, were constantly at each other's throats. He wasn't real happy with the direction I'd taken. He thought I was destined to be a bum for the entirety of my life. And then he actually went into a recording studio in Sicily and did a version of 'Solitaire' in Italian. And then I said, Wow, I've scored with my dad. My dad thinks I'm cool now. So I thought as payback I would try to write about my dad's point of view of coming to this country and how much promise there was."
  • Immigration became a political wedge issue in the '00s, but even in the '70s, Americans were divided on the topic. This song takes a positive on immigration. The song's lyricist Phil Cody explained: "At that time we were starting to see immigration problems. I think I was watching a news report, and I remember thinking, That's not the way Americans treat people who come to our country. And I wanted to write about that. I was put off by the Vietnam War and how our stance in the world just didn't seem friendly and welcoming. And I wanted to write nostalgically about my father's period when he came, feeling such promise and hope."
  • This was part of Neil Sedaka's huge comeback album, Sedaka's Back. After going hitless for a decade, he made a deal to issue the album Elton John's Rocket Records. With Elton's endorsement and promotional push, the first single, "Laughter In The Rain," went to #1 in America. The obvious next single was "Love Will Keep Us Together," but Sedaka had issued that in France in 1973, so he chose this one instead. "I picked 'The Immigrant' because it was a beautiful song and a beautiful record," he explained.

    Since he didn't put out "Love Will Keep Us Together" as a single in America, that left the door open for Captain & Tennille to do so. It was their first single, and the biggest hit of 1975. Near the end of that year, Sedaka landed yet another #1 with "Bad Blood."

Comments: 3

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 13th 1975, Neil Sedaka recorded "The Immigrant" at the Clover Recording Studios in Hollywood, California; the song was dedicated to John Lennon and his difficulties with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service...
    Two months later on March 23rd the song would enter Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #83; seven weeks later on May 11th it would peak at #22 {for 2 weeks} and it stayed on the chart for 10 weeks..
    And on May 4th, 1975 it reached #1 {for 1 week} on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    On the day he recorded "The Immigrant" his preceding release, "Laughter in the Rain"*, was at #16 on the Top 100; just under three weeks earlier it had peaked at #1 {for 1 week}...
    "Laughter in the Rain" was the second of his three #1 records; the other two were "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" for 2 weeks in 1962 and "Bad Blood" for 3 weeks in 1975...
    * In the U.S., the B-side of "Laughter in the Rain" was "Endlessly".
  • Adrian from Johor Bahru, MalaysiaThe musical accompaniment sounds like the introductionary accompanying tune of Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now". I wonder if Peter Cetera borrowed the mindset from this song.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhI love the purity of Neil Sedaka's voice in this song. All of my grandparents immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s and this song puts me in the mind of what it may have been like for them back then, rough but adventurous.
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