Immigrant Song

In 1970, the government of Iceland invited Led Zeppelin to give a concert in its capital of Reykjavik. Shortly after the band arrived, Iceland’s civil service workers went on strike threatening the concert.

During the wait, Zeppelin’s lead singer, Robert Plant, wrote “Immigrant Song”.

If you are like me (and I sincerely hope the good Lord has spared you that), you don’t know the title of many songs – especially the ones whose words do not appear in the actual lyrics. This is to say nothing of the nausea inducing lyric-free music of today.

The “Immigrant Song” begins with Plant famously singing (screeching?) Ahhhhhhhhhh…… Ahhhhhhhhh….

Right. That song. My second favorite song to request from lounge singers and wedding bands. Right after, naturally, Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Love doing that – “Okay…do we have any requests?”
“FREE BIRD!”….”Not funny, sir”….”yes it is.”

So. Zeppelin gets invited to Iceland on a cultural mission to perform a concert and a strike almost kills the deal. Plant writes song. Immigrant Song.

This is not unlike the immigration laws of the United States. Invite people here to work, people protest, and things bog down. The creative ones adapt based on the reasons for their presence.

Many will say, “But we didn’t invite these immigrants!”

Yes. Yes, we did. We allowed millions of people to enter the country for a whole host of reasons and very few people, in the beginning anyway, seemed to mind.

The problems began when some of the uninvited guests (guests nonetheless), started doing bad things. Very bad things.

Remember back in school when someone said, “Hey, let’s go over to so and so’s house. He’s having people over. His parents are out of town.” And what happens? The whole school shows up looking for free booze.

If that kid realizes, before the cops show up, that his behind is going to be in a sling, he will end up kicking everyone out. Right? You remember this?

Of course you do.

Our immigration problem is a bit more problematic because we cannot simply kick people out of the house. In fact, they live here now and many of them are not breaking the laws other than the one to actually be here – but we turned a blind eye to that and evvvvvvveryone knows it.

It’s time to be honest – on both sides of the aisle – about immigration.

Set up a process for an orderly, fair, and humane transition to becoming a US citizen. That means not lowering the bar, it means raising it. If people have been here and have been contributing to the development of our society, culture, and civilization they should be welcomed as such.

For those who have broken the laws, your stay here is no longer welcome and you will be returned to your country of origin. If you have done something so terrible that your home country will not accept you back or if you still owe our civil society some more time, you will be put to work.

Don’t want to work? We can be creative with folks like you. We’ll come up with something, but you won’t like it. And you’re going to miss the show.

The show must go on. The band was booked. The concert hall was scheduled.

The tickets have all been sold.

The people are here.

And they’ve been chanting for a long time, patiently, “We. Want. The Show.”

Let the band play.

The Immigrant Song has always been America’s song.

The last lines of Immigrant Song?

So now you’d better stop and rebuild all your ruins/
For peace and trust can win the day despite all your losing.


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Chris Saxman

About Chris Saxman

Father of four, small business leader, retired politician, and Executive Committee member and former Chairman of an international trade association, Chris Saxman delivers strategy and insight as a political coach and keynote speaker. Contact Chris.

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