In 1986, country icon Willie Nelson released “Living in the Promiseland” as the lead single from his album The Promise and – which was actually Nelson’s last No. 1 album on the country album chart.
The song became another hit for Nelson, reaching No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, where it spent an entire week at the top and a remarkable twenty weeks overall.
The story behind the song
Written by country singer David Lynn Jones, “Living In The Promiseland” is a heartfelt ballad that promisingly portrays America as a safe place to retreat for foreign nationals seeking freedom. Jones wrote the song at a time when Florida’s population doubled due to the influx of immigrants from Cuba amid economic crisis in their own country.
While the patriotic ballad isn’t about America being awesome or breathtaking, it’s actually about “America the dream, and that’s what you make it.” A lot of people come here thinking it’s one thing and find something else,” Jones said.
In 1988, Jones recorded his own version of “Living In The Promiseland” as the B-side to his collaboration with Waylon Jennings, titled “High Ridin’ Heroes”.
Fast forward to many years later, Willie Nelson received the Gershwin Award at the 2015 Library of Congress. He later chose to perform this song as his political response to disputes over immigration policy amid the plight of Syrian refugees.
Nelson said he decided to perform the song because it is the most appropriate Americans could do for this time in the country. “Many years ago I recorded this song and thought maybe now would be a good time to try and bring it back,” he said.
Anyway, you can listen to Willie Nelson’s “Living in the Promiseland” in the video below. It is indeed one of the most patriotic tunes among Willie Nelson’s songs.