The Call – Become America

I searched in vain for the lyrics to “Become America” by The Call, easily the best band that never made it to super-stardom. I was thinking about Become America lately, in light of President Bush’s comment that the soldiers at Abu Ghraib don’t represent “the America I know,” Dave Winer’s recent comments about America “getting over itself”, and John Kerry’s latest campaign slogan “Let America be America Again” (a nod to Langston Hughes’ poem).

I thought about writing about the song by The Call, then just figured I’d reprint their lyrics here. (If you’re interested in buying the album, it’s not on iTunes but is available at Reading these lyrics in light of the past few months is positively eerie (the song was written in 1997). (That happens a lot with The Call — Michael Been is a gifted lyricist.)

(Political junkies will recall that Al Gore’s campaign song debuted at the 2000 convention was “Let the Day Begin” by The Call, one of their better-known songs but hardly their best.)

When will America, become America
When will America, become America
When will the home we love
Mean freedom for everyone
When will America, become America

When will the killing stop
When the last child has dropped
How long must mothers’ tears
Rain down on streets of fear
When will the home we love
Mean justice for everyone
When will America become America


When will the struggling poor
Walk with their heads held high once more
Children playing on haunted streets
Politicians weave their spell
Promise spoken from the mouth of hell
When will America become America


With their very lives they gave
Soldiers, the young and brave
Shame for the world to see
A mystery to you and me
Angels will keep their watch
Heaven will count the cost
When will America become America


2 responses to “The Call – Become America”

  1. I agree with everything you said here. Thanks for posting. I don't want the Call to be forgotten. Michael Been had so much to say and said it so well.

  2. thanks for bringing this Excellent song to the public's eyes. “Been” a favorite of mine, ever it was released on their “to Heaven and Back” Album, back in 1997. The lyrics speak volumes of our current american state of affairs. strange that no on in the media, or anywhere else has picked up on this mood perfect, dead on Musical Masterpiece!! P.S. Been's Son, Robert Levon Been, of the Group; “BRMC” is forming up a Tribute Album, consisting of two live shows, earlier this year. Keep up on the latest @ Kevin J. Keller from

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