AMERICAN LAND

Album version

Whoa!

What is this land America, so many travel there
I'm going now while I'm still youn–– 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 women 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, the 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'll make his home in the American land

Whoa!

Whoa!

I docked at Ellis Island in the city of light and spire
I wandered to the valley of red-hot steel and fire
We made the steel that built the cities with the sweat of our two hands
We made our home in the American land

Go!
There's diamonds in the sidewalk, the 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'll make his home in the American land

Whoa!
Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!
???!
Come on!

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

They died building the railroads, they 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
Their hands that built the country we're always trying to keep out

There's diamonds in the sidewalk, the 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'll make his home in the American land
Who'll make his home in the American land
Who'll make his home in the American land
Whoa!


Page last updated: 28 Feb 2012

Intro

Music and lyrics by Bruce Springsteen, AMERICAN LAND is a bonus track on his 2012 album, Wrecking Ball. The above lyrics are for Springsteen's studio version of AMERICAN LAND as released on Wrecking Ball.

Composition and Recording

In the liner notes of the "American Land" edition of his We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions album, Springsteen wrote that AMERICAN LAND is "an original song inspired by 'He Lies in the American Land,' a poem by immigrant steelworker Andrew Kovaly and set to music by Pete Seeger." The song uses the first verse from Kovaly's HE LIES IN THE AMERICAN LAND.

Zirilli, name-checked in the song, the maiden name of Springsteen's mother, Adele, who's of Italian ancestry.

Bruce Springsteen first recorded AMERICAN LAND with The Seeger Sessions Band on 21 Jan 2006, during the last of the three Seeger Sessions. According to Brucebase, he also recorded a solo version at his home studio sometime later in 2006. Both studio versions remain unreleased.

A studio version was included on Springsteen's Wrecking Ball album. It was probably recorded sometime in 2011. The line-up on this track is Bruce Springsteen, Ron Aniello (backing vocals, hurdy gurdy, and more), Max Weinberg (drums), Charles Giordano (B-3 organ and celeste), Rob Lebert (backing vocals), Soozie Tyrell (violin and backing vocals), Ross Peterson (backing vocals), Cliff Norrell (backing vocals), Steven Van Zandt (mandolin and backing vocals), and Art Baron (sousaphone and penny whistle).

Lyrics Variations

The lyrics for the live versions of AMERICAN LAND have slightly changed from when it debuted in June 2006.

The live 22 Jun 2006 version and live 25 Jun 2006 version use the partially unintelligible "The ??? Asians, Arabs miles from home / Come across the water with a fire down below" lines in the fourth verse. These lines would soon after become "Come across the water a thousand miles from home / With nothin' in their bellies but the fire down below", as per the printed lyrics in the booklet of the "American Land Edition" of the We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions album.

Instead or the usual "I wandered to the valley of red-hot steel and fire", the live 25 Jun 2006 version uses the "She met me in the valley of red-hot steel and fire" line in the third verse, as per the printed lyrics in the booklet of the "American Land Edition" of the We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions album. That same version also omits the second verse ("Over there the women wear...").

Depending on the European country he's performing in, Springsteen often replaced "Germans" in the fourth verse by "Austrians", "British", "Danish", "Dutch", "Finnish", "French", "Norwegians", "Scots", "Spanish", "Swedes", "Swiss"... See the live 28 Jun 2009 version for an example. During the 28 Mar 2008 show in Portland, OR, there were women in the pit that wore shirts that said "Lesbians [heart] Bruce", so he replaced "Germans" by "lesbians". During the Glastonbury festival in England on 27 Jun 2009, he sang "The Blacks, Italians, the English, the Germans and the Jews".

On the Magic Tour and Working On A Dream Tour, Springsteen changed "...trying to keep down" into "...trying to keep out" in the last verse, apparently referring to the growing resistance against immigration.

Wrecking Ball

Wrecking Ball is Bruce Springsteen's seventeenth studio album. It was produced by Ron Aniello with Bruce Springsteen and executive producer Jon Landau, and features special guest appearances from Tom Morello and Matt Chamberlain. The album features 11 new Springsteen recordings and a special edition includes two bonus tracks. All 13 tracks are Springsteen compositions, three of which have previously been released in live forms.

Before the album came together, Springsteen was originally working on a gospel record on which he spent on-and-off about a year. He had written about 30 to 40 songs, including WE TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN, SHACKLED AND DRAWN, and ROCKY GROUND. In a December 2013 interview for Rolling Stone, Ron Aniello told Andy Greene: "Those were about 30 or 40 songs. They were very unique for him, unlike anything I'd ever heard." Aniello later wanted to work on these songs, to help arrange them or give Springsteen ideas for a potential release, but instead he worked on what became High Hopes and none of those songs ended up on the 2014 album. "Those are lovely songs, but none of them are on this record." When asked how he would describe the sound of those songs, Aniello said, "I would compare them to Aaron Copland. It has a very open landscape feel and I guess... You wouldn't call it country. It's just very hard to describe. You'll just have to wait. I'm actually working on some of the songs now and going through them. He's looking for a way to approach that album." At the end of the interview, Aniello said that he doesn't know if any of those pre-Wrecking Ball songs are going to be released someday. "It's all up to Bruce. I know they're going on tour in January. Hopefully sometime in 2014 they'll be interested in hearing my record."

Then Springsteen decided to drop the project and started focusing on solo material. It was on 09 Jan 2011 that Ron Aniello first went to Colts Neck to help Springsteen finish arrangements for the project he was working on. After they had been working together for about a month, Springsteen wrote EASY MONEY which was a different style of song to what they've been working on before. As Aniello told to WCHR-FM's Tom Cunningham, "things just started steam rolling into this other record, you know, not sure what was going round in his mind." Springsteen was bringing in more songs, and it was evident that the direction of the music was changing. Jon Landau came in, listened to the music, and after a discussion with Springsteen they decided to do a new album. "Literally, this man bought in a new song every day. He just bulldozed us with these songs," Aniello explained.

Springsteen was coming in every morning with a new song and it would start with just him and his guitar. He would then sing a rhythm to Aniello, or sit down at the drums and play a beat. Aniello was looping these drum beats – no drum machines were used on Wrecking Ball – and adding other layers, like loops of percussion, also played by Springsteen. According to Aniello, this was done just for convenience because they were alone in studio, songs were coming in quick, and there were no other musicians there. The loops stayed, and other instruments were added at later stages. "Ron brought a large library of sound that allowed me to explore – like maybe a hip-hop drum loop or country-blues stomp loop," Springsteen told Rolling Stone in 2012. "The actual drums came later. There was no preconceived set of instruments that needed to be used, I could go anywhere, do anything, use anything. It was very wide open." Everybody who was around was participating in the recording. They even jumped on pieces of plywood, built some some risers to stomp on, and hit couches to makes noises.

Wrecking Ball was mainly recorded at Stone Hill Studio, Springsteen's home studio at his Colts Neck, NJ farm house. The album was released on Columbia Records on 05 Mar 2012 in the UK, 06 Mar 2012 in the United States, and 21 Mar 2012 in Japan.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge/reduce artwork]

Wrecking Ball was recorded with a large ensemble of musicians. There's a core of six musicians, while all others are just guest artists. Some E Street Band members appear on a few of the tracks. According to Ron Aniello, the album credits are "a mess" and will be revised in future reissues.

  • Bruce Springsteen (lead vocals, guitars, banjo, piano, organ, drums, percussion, and loops) appears on all the album's tracks.
  • Ron Aniello (guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, loops, percussion, hurdy gurdy, and backing vocals) appears on all of the album's tracks. He is also the album producer.
  • Matt Chamberlain (drums and percussion) appears on tracks 3, 5, and 8.
  • Max Weinberg (drums) is an E Street Band member and appears on tracks 7, 11, and 13.
  • Steve Jordan (percussion) has previously appeared on Springsteen's Devils & Dust, playing drums and percussion. He plays percussion on track 2.
  • Kevin Buell (drums and backing vocals) is Springsteen's guitar technician. He appears on track 5.
  • Charles Giordano (accordion, piano, B-3 organ, and celeste) recorded and toured with The Seeger Sessions Band and joined the E Street band in 2008. He appears on most of the album's tracks.
  • Marc Muller (pedal steel guitar) is a multi-instrumentalist who mainly plays string instruments. He plays pedal steel guitar on track 3.
  • Tom Morello (electric guitar) appears on tracks 4 and 6.
  • Greg Leisz (banjo, mandola, and lap steel) is a multi-instrumentalist, mainly playing lap and pedal steel guitars, guitar, mandolin, and bass. He appears on tracks 8 and 11.
  • Rob Lebert (electric guitar and backing vocals) appears on tracks 5, 7, 8, 12, and 13.
  • Darrell Leonard (trumpet and bass trumpet) is a Los Angeles based trumpet player, composer and arranger. He appears on track 11.
  • Curt Ramm (trumpet and cornet) toured with The Seeger Sessions Band. He appears on tracks 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, and 10.
  • Clark Gayton (trombone) toured with The Seeger Sessions Band. He appears on tracks 3, 4, 8, 9, and 10.
  • Stan Harrison (clarinet, alto sax, and tenor sax) has previously appeared on Springsteen's The Promise, playing tenor saxophone. He appears on tracks 3, 4, 8, 9, and 10.
  • Ed Manion (tenor sax and baritone sax) is a member of The Miami Horns and he toured with the E Street band in 1988 and recorded and toured with The Seeger Sessions Band. He appears on tracks 3, 4, 8, 9, and 10.
  • Dan Levine (alto horn and euphonium) is a New York City based musician who plays several horn instruments in studios and live. He appears on tracks 3, 4, 9, and 10.
  • Art Baron (euphonium, tuba, sousaphone, and penny whistle) recorded and toured with The Seeger Sessions Band. He appears on tracks 3, 4, 5, 9, and 10.
  • Clarence Clemons (saxophone) was an E Street Band member and appears on tracks 7 and 10.
  • Soozie Tyrell (violin and backing vocals) started touring with the E Street band in 2002 and toured with The Seeger Sessions Band in 2006. She appears on most of the album's tracks.
  • Patti Scialfa (backing vocals and vocal arrangements) is Springsteen's wife and a member of the E Street Band since 1984. She appears on most of the album's tracks.
  • Lisa Lowell (backing vocals) has been singing backup vocals on several Springsteen albums since 1992 and recorded and toured with The Seeger Sessions Band. She appears on tracks 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, and 12.
  • Cindy Mizelle (background vocals) toured with The Seeger Sessions Band and the E Street Band in 2009. She appears on track 3.
  • Ross Peterson (backing vocals) appears on tracks 3, 5, 7, 8, 12, and 13.
  • Cliff Norrell (tuba and backing vocals) is the album's recording engineer. He appears on tracks 3, 5, 7, 8, 12, and 13.
  • New York String Section (strings), also known as the New York Chamber Consort, consists of Rob Mathes (orchestration), Sandy Park (string contractor), Lisa Kim (concertmaster), Myumju Lee (violin), Ann Lehmaan (violin), Lizz Lim (violin), Johanna Marher (violin), Annaliesa Place (violin), Fiona Simon (violin), Sharon Yamada (violin), Jung Sun Yu (violin), Karen Dreyfus (viola), Daniel Panner (viola), Robert Rinehart (viola), Mina Smith (cello), and Alan Stepansky (cello). It appears on tracks 1, 4, and 7.
  • Victorious Gospel Choir (backing vocals) has previously appeared on Springsteen's The Rising. On Wrecking Ball, the choir includes Michelle Moore, Antoinette Savage, Corinda Carford, Tiffeny Andrews, Soloman Cobbs, and Lillie Brown. It appears on tracks 2, 9, and 10. Michelle Moore is credited separately on the three tracks. The remaining singers are credited individually on track 2, and as the Victorious Gospel Choir on tracks 9 and 10.
  • Jeremy McCoy (bass violin) is a bass guitar player. He appears on track 12.
  • Dan Shelly (bassoon) is an orchestra bassoon player. He appears on track 12.
  • Mark Romatz (contra bassoon) is an orchestra bassoon player. He appears on track 12.
  • Steven Van Zandt (mandolin and backing vocals) is an E Street Band member. He appears on tracks 7, 10, and 13.

Wrecking Ball is available in three configurations: standard CD edition, special CD edition, and double-disc LP. The special CD edition features two bonus tracks and exclusive packaging. The double-disc LP is pressed on 180-gram vinyl and includes a CD version of the album.

Wrecking Ball track list:

  1. WE TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN
  2. EASY MONEY
  3. SHACKLED AND DRAWN
  4. JACK OF ALL TRADES
  5. DEATH TO MY HOMETOWN
  6. THIS DEPRESSION
  7. WRECKING BALL
  8. YOU'VE GOT IT
  9. ROCKY GROUND
  10. LAND OF HOPE AND DREAMS
  11. WE ARE ALIVE
  12. SWALLOWED UP (IN THE BELLY OF THE WHALE) [bonus track]
  13. AMERICAN LAND [bonus track]

The album topped the charts in 16 countries, including the United States and the UK.

[Click here to display/hide list of countries in which the album charted]

Other Official Releases

Other versions of AMERICAN LAND were also officially released:


The live 22 Jun 2006 version of AMERICAN LAND was released on the "American Land Edition" of the We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions album in 2006.

The live 18 Nov 2006 version of AMERICAN LAND was released on the Live In Dublin album and home video in 2007.

The live 28 Jun 2009 version of AMERICAN LAND was released on the London Calling: Live In Hyde Park home video in 2010.

Live History

AMERICAN LAND was performed 30 times during the 56-date-long The Seeger Sessions Tour; every single show from 22 Jun 2006 and till the end of the tour. It was the show opener on the last three dates of the U.S. leg, and the show closer on every date of the second European leg. The live 22 Jun 2006 version of AMERICAN LAND was released on the "American Land Edition" of the We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions album in 2006. The live 18 Nov 2006 version of AMERICAN LAND was released on the Live In Dublin album and home video in 2007.

[Click here to display/hide detailed The Seeger Sessions Tour performances list]

In preparation for The Seeger Sessions Tour, AMERICAN LAND is known to have been practiced during at least two of the private rehearsals that took place in September 2006 in Asbury Park prior to the tour's second European leg.

[Click here to display/hide detailed The Seeger Sessions Tour rehearsals performances list]

In preparation for the Magic Tour, AMERICAN LAND was performed during all of the tour's three public warm-up rehearsal shows that took place in September 2007 in Asbury Park and East Rutherford. The song is also known to have been practiced during at least one of the private rehearsals that took place in September 2007 in Asbury Park prior to the tour's first leg, and during at least one of the private rehearsals that took place in February 2008 in Asbury Park prior to the tour's second U.S. leg.

[Click here to display/hide detailed Magic Tour rehearsals performances list]

AMERICAN LAND was performed 100 times during the 100-date-long Magic Tour; that is each and every one of the tour's regular dates. The song was always played during the encores and featured guest musicians on several occasions. The 30 Aug 2008 performance was during Harley-Davidson's 105th Anniversary Celebration.

[Click here to display/hide detailed Magic Tour performances list]

In preparation for the Working On A Dream Tour, AMERICAN LAND was performed during both of the tour's two public warm-up rehearsal shows that took place in March 2009 in Asbury Park. The song is also known to have been practiced during at least 2 of the private rehearsals that took place in March 2009 in Asbury Park prior to the tour's first leg.

[Click here to display/hide detailed Working On A Dream Tour Tour rehearsals performances list]

AMERICAN LAND was performed 83 times during the 83-date-long Working On A Dream Tour; that is each and every one of the tour's regular dates. The song was always played during the encores and often featured guest musicians. The complete 28 Jun 2009 show was released on the London Calling: Live In Hyde Park DVD in 2010. See the live 28 Jun 2009 version for more details. Most performances of AMERICAN LAND on this tour featured an instrumental snippet of THEME FROM SHAFT in the midsection.

[Click here to display/hide detailed Working On A Dream Tour performances list]

Covers

Very few artists have recorded and released Bruce Springsteen's AMERICAN LAND, including:


1000 Mile Highway -- Long, Straight And Live

CD5 EP - no label (no catalogue number) - UK, 2009

This is a live 5-track EP recorded in July 2009 at Cornbury Music Festival in the UK. It also includes a cover of JOHNNY 99.

Scott McClatchy -- A Dark Rage

CD - LIB Records (LIB0910) - USA, 2010

Vaud & The Villains -- Sin & Tonic Volume 2

Digital album - no label (no catalogue number) - USA, 2013

This is a download-only digital release. It also includes a cover of IF I SHOULD FALL BEHIND.

I Luf -- Mat E Famat

CD - unknown label (unknown catalogue number) - Italy, 2013

The song is recorded in Lombard dialect.

Available Versions

List of available versions of AMERICAN LAND on this website:

Credits

Thanks Karen, Will Baron, and Deborah Shuman for the help. Thanks DonQuijote82 for the info about the I Luf cover version.

Request

Please contact me if you have scans for or additional info about I Luf's album Mat E Famat. If you have any additions, comments, or corrections to this page, please contact me via the below form or by email: . You will be credited. Thanks in advance.

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