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America (West Side Story)

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Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Date 1957
Source West Side Story (musical)
Publisher Chappell & Co. Inc.; The Leonard Bernstein Music Pub. Co. LLC
Song.america-wss

"America," from Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's musical West Side Story, is a song about Puerto Rican immigrants living in New York City who extol the virtues of their new homeland. In the stage version of the musical, the lone dissenter is one of the Puerto Rican women, but in the film version, it is the men who want to go back to San Juan. Rita Moreno leads the number in the film, for which she won an Academy Award in the role of Anita.

The Electric Mayhem performs the song on a set decorated with traditional American stars and stripes in episode 317 of The Muppet Show. The song turns into a global jam session when the international Muppet guests join in.

The international Muppets include the Witch Doctor representing a tribal nation, a Mexican Whatnot playing the trumpet ("Jarabe Tapatío," better known as "The Mexican Hat Dance"), two Russian pig soldiers playing balalaikas, Mahna Mahna dancing for a Polynesian tribe, a Scotsman playing the bagpipe ("Hava Nagila"), and the Swedish Chef playing the accordion for Mary Louise and a goat.

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