Country Rewind: Watch Willie Nelson Spectacularly Perform Patriotic Song ‘Living in the Promiseland’

by Clayton Edwards
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Country music is probably the most patriotic genre out there. You could spend days on end just listening to patriotic country songs. Just like people, though, patriotism comes in many forms. For some, it is the “put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way,” variety. For others, patriotism looks a little different. Willie Nelson has long been one of the others.

If you want to see how Willie Nelson exhibits his love for the USA as well as his fellow man, you don’t have to look hard. In fact, you can find a shining example of it in his 1986 song, “Living in the Promseland.”

While some patriotic anthems see the United States as a proud nation ready to go to war or, more recently, a once-great nation in decline, this is different. “Living in the Promisland,” looks at our nation as a place of nurturing and love. It is a place where dreams grow to fruition. In fact, the song makes subtle reference to the words etched on the bronze plaque affixed to the Statue of Liberty, “…Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Watch Willie Nelson perform the song at Farm Aid in 2004. Then, we’ll discuss the song a little more.

More About Willie Nelson’s ‘Living in the Promiseland’

David Lynn Jones penned, “Living in the Promiseland,” and Willie Nelson recorded it in 1986. It was the first single and album opener from Promiseland. The song and the album were both hits. They both went to the top of their respective charts. This gave Willie Nelson his twelfth chart-topper.

In the song, Willie Nelson sings about the things that this country has to offer. The opening lines set the tone for the rest of the tune. “Give us your tired and weak / and we will make them strong. / Bring us your foreign songs / and we will sing along.” Then, it goes on to talk about people coming from far-flung nations to find a home and better life in the United States. Because, “Our dreams are made of steel,” and “The prayer of every man / is to know how freedom feels.”

Willie Nelson cut this song in 1986. However, it doesn’t seem like his views have changed that much over time. The Outlaw Country pioneer is still a very live-and-let-live kind of guy. In fact, when asked about people kneeling for the national anthem and other hot-button topics, Willie had a pretty direct answer. He said, “Regarding peaceful protests and just about anything else, I believe everyone should do whatever the f— they want to do.”

So, no, Willie Nelson’s “Living in the Promiseland,” isn’t the kind of patriotic song that most are used to hearing. However, it shows a deep love and respect for the nation. At the end of the day, isn’t that what being a patriot is all about?

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