Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Video: Willie Nelson’s new song “Immigrant Eyes” (with lyrics)

A post by Abby Zimet which first appeared in Common Dreams:

After Oscar Alberto Martínez and his 23-month-old daughter Angie Valeria and the rest – it turns out they were just two of dozens who’ve died in the Rio Grande this year thanks to state-sponsored barbarism that now even asylum officials oppose – we took a truth and beauty break with Willie Nelson. At a still-smooth-as-silk 86 years old, the great troubadour just released a poignant, mournful video with his recording of Guy Clark’s “Immigrant Eyes,” part of Willie’s new album “Ride Me Back Home.” Moving from Ellis Island to today’s horrors, Willie honors those pilgrims “bound by the dream that they shared,” then and now, “on fire with the hope of it all.”

Immigrant Eyes

by Willie Nelson

Oh, Ellis Island was swarming
Like a scene from a costume ball
Decked out in the colors of Europe
And on fire with the hope of it all
There my father’s own father stood huddled
With the tired and hungry and scared
Turn of the century pilgrims
Bound by the dream that they shared
They were standing in line just like cattle
Poked and sorted and shoved
Some were one desk away from sweet freedom
Some were torn from someone they love
Through this sprawling Tower of Babel
Came a young man, confused and alone
Determined and bound for America
And carrying all that he ownedSometimes when I looked in my grandfather’s immigrant eyes
I saw that day reflected and I couldn’t hold my feelings inside
I saw started with nothing and working hard all of his life
“So don’t take it for granted, ” said grandfather’s immigrant eyesHe would rock and stare out the window
But his eyes are still just as clear
As the day he sailed through the Harbor
And come ashore on that island of tears
My grandfather’s days were numbered
But I won’t let his memory die
‘Cause he gave me the gift of this country
And the look in his immigrant eyes

Sometimes when I looked in my grandfather’s immigrant eyes
I saw that day reflected and couldn’t hold my feelings inside
I saw started with nothing and working hard all of his life
“So don’t take it for granted, ” said grandfather’s immigrant eyes
“Don’t take it for granted, ” said grandfather’s immigrant eyes.


Willie Nelson at 86

3 comments on “Video: Willie Nelson’s new song “Immigrant Eyes” (with lyrics)

  1. John Samuel Tieman
    July 10, 2019

    Very moving.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tricia Knoll
    July 10, 2019

    Going straight to Facebook with this. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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