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God Bless The USA by Lee Greenwood

Album: If There's Any JusticeReleased: 1983Charted:
  • Greenwood wrote this in 1983 as a patriotic song about his country, which he clearly loves. It was never a big hit, but it quickly became Greenwood's signature song. Many conservative politicians, including George Bush, have used it in their campaigns, and it became popular again in 1991 when the US went to war with Iraq. The song got a lot of airplay after September 11, 2001, as patriotism became a priority in America. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Helen - South Shields, England
  • Greenwood explained to The Boot the inspiration behind this song: "I wanted to write it my whole life. When I got to that point, we were doing 300 days a year on the road, and we were on our fourth or fifth album on MCA. I called my producer, and I said I have a need to do this. I've always wanted to write a song about America, and I said we just need to be more united.
    I'm from California, and I don't know anybody from Virginia or New York, so when I wrote it - and my producer and I had talked about it - [we] talked about the four cities I wanted to mention, the four corners of the United States. It could have been Seattle or Miami but we chose New York and L.A., and he suggested Detroit and Houston because they both were economically part of the basis of our economy – Motown and the oil industry, so I just poetically wrote that in the bridge.
    When I put it on stage, I think it was the fall of '83, I put it in the middle of the show just as a brand-new song. Wow, it was like the audience jumped up, and they were applauding. It helps to have a career that is really exploding to bring a song to bear that is palpable. I did it for about two weeks like that and then I had to put it at the end of the show as an encore. I couldn't follow it.
    It keeps having a different kind of life. I mean during the Gulf War, it was a song of the war for General Schwarzkopf. After Hurricane Katrina, it was a song for life and hope, and then after 9/11, it was a song of unity and rebuilding. It just makes me really proud that I've done something for the country and for my family. It's my family's heritage."
  • Eight years after the song was part of the track listing on You've Got a Good Love Comin', it featured again on American Patriot. Greenwood told The Boot about his 1992 record: "I recorded the American Patriot album. That album was a way to embrace 'God Bless the USA' with all other American songs including 'God Bless America,' America the Beautiful,' 'The National Anthem' ... even the 'Battle Hymn of the Republic.' The American Patriot album really was the one that solidified 'God Bless the USA' in a time capsule, if you will, for all time."
  • Days after the announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed, Beyoncé released a cover of this song in aid of 9/11 charities. "We were all affected by the tragedies of 9/11 and continue to keep the families who lost loved ones close to our hearts," said the Texan singer. "Lee Greenwood, the writer of the song, is also donating his proceeds to help the 9/11 families." Beyoncé originally performed the track during President Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.
  • Lee Greenwood turned the song into a children's book, Proud to Be an American, in 2015. In addition to using the lyrics, the patriotic tome draws inspiration from the singer's own childhood. The illustrations show a child being raised by grandparents, not parents, because that is how Greenwood was raised.

    "It's the lyrics of my song, the geography from New York to LA to Detroit, and great American pictures," Greenwood explained to The Boot. "The reason I didn't put the parents raising the child is because I was raised by my grandparents, so there's a grandfather and a grandmother in the book, showing a young boy all the things you should love about America."
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Comments: 36

Although I can appreciate the sentiment behind people's affection for this song, I never liked it. I find its message simplistic and juvenile right alongside that lamentable episode where congressmen changed the name of French Fries to Freedom Fries. In the years since 9/11 we don't need to stoke the type of unreflective patriotism to which Greenwood refers. We need the reflective type of patriotism that directs us to challenge the reckless military adventures to which our elected leaders send our young men and women. As in Vietnam, as in wars throughout the ages, our leaders aren't sending their children off to battle. The poor and earnest suffer at the pleasure of the landed classes, the gentry. That should sound familiar to all Americans. It's one reason we have a bicameral congress that controls the purse.

The song also contributes to the fetishizing of military service which exacerbates the divide between soldiers and civilians. Criticism of the military adventure attaches to a criticism of the citizen-soldier. War becomes a fact of life. It becomes ordinary in the Orwellian sense. But there is something even more ominous. As America's old friend and historian Alexis de Tocqueville notes, "If it (war) does not lead to despotism by sudden violence, it prepares men for it more gently by their habits. All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and the shortest means to accomplish it." That this should be— that it could be ought send cold shivers down the spine of most every American.

The song that America needs right now has already been written. Americans may recall the tune but have forgotten the words. Fortunately the essential ones stick, "This land was made for you and me."

As for patriotism, I side with Samuel Johnson. "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." There are many patriots in the marbled halls of Washington.
Phil - Los Angeles, Ca
I find Lee's song is a very heartfelt patriotic song; and very popular in Veteran Service Organizations, patriotic rally's and the like. As a combat veteran, I would like to see a 2014 version update. In the 2003 version, Lee changed "men who died" to "ones who died" in the chorus - an appropriate change. But, IMHO, it should read "ones who served" to be inclusive of all veterans and those currently serving. After all, not all war combatants die. It would also pay great tribute to those excluded who suffer from life changing wounds. I've updated the old saying I'm sure you will recognize: All gave some; many gave much, some gave all. Lee, your "stand up next to you and defend her still today" refers to those still living. All due respect and no criticism intended here. Just would like to see all who served recognized. Go Army!Steve - Fort Wayne, In
"cause i still have my freedom, and they can't take that away."
oh really. have you heard of the patriot act? that's exactly what "they" did.
Timmy - Mukilteo, Wa
Oh yeah, Ignatius, "America" ("My Country Tis of Thee" to you), yeah a British song ("God Save The Queen"). "Star Spangled Banner" - a British drinking song...just sayin'Matt - Raleigh, Nc
Well put Larry of NC. As a musician I can point to many patriotic songs related to war, going back to the War of 1812, except Vietnam (Ballad of the Green Berets being a singular exception). It is representative of our and any country to have songs like this one rise up and become a part of our collective consiousness, whether you like the song or not. I think it's a pretty good song, but more importantly, I'm glad I live in an age where song like this are still being written. As for all of the draft dodger talk, I guess George F Root, George M Cohan, and Stephen Foster all dodges drafts too, huh?! Never mind...Matt - Raleigh, Nc
RELAX PEOPLE! Lee Greenwood is young, talented and passionate. Haven't you ever experienced at least ONE inspired moment in your life? Isn't that what American Democracy is all about......freedom of speech? And he has the ability to express his feelings for his country. Unfortunately there aren't MORE PEOPLE willing to....."Stand-up"......and do just that! The song is a good representation of the emotions that the MAJORITY OF OLDER AND YOUNGER AMERICANS WHO HAVE SERVED THEIR COUNTRY, feel. Give the man credit for putting it into words!James - Northville, Mi
To Ignatius in New Orleans - Read this prior to casting your harsh judgment.

Kristy - Nashua, Nh
Seems like some people have no problem enjoying the benefits of being an American while sneering at those who try to show their appreciation for those benefits. It's not "jingoism" to be proud of your country, its heritage and accomplishments, nor indeed to acknowledge the sacrifices of its sons and daughters. The wonder is not that there are so many ingrates who take their lives of privilege and peace for granted; the wonder is that they are not even ashamed to admit it.Jeff - Boston, Ma
Lee Greenwood is a FRAUD he also converted this song to say God Bless the UK and God Bless Canada.

What a jerk, he claims in the song that he would stand with the men who fought to give us freedom. Where was he when his countries needed him in Vietnam?
Ignatius - New Orleans, La
This song is sung by a Vietnam Draft Dodger! Go to www.imdb.com and search Lee GreenwoodIgnatius - New Orleans, La
brawl erupts after song played at rodeo
Felix Fanaselle says he and another rodeo patron got into a fight during the playing of Lee Greenwood's Proud to be an American.

Talk of war with Iraq has sparked an atmosphere of tension and anxiety. And it may be to blame for a brawl that broke out at the rodeo Thursday night.

ABC-13 report

With some 15,000 to 20,000 folks at the rodeo drinking beer and having fun, things can get a little out of hand at times. It happened when a tape of Lee Greenwood's song Proud To Be An American was playing. Some rodeo fans were standing and others were sitting down. Felix Fanaselle and his buddies chose to remain seated.

"This guy behind us starts yelling at us (because) we're not standing up," said Fanaselle. "He starts cussing at us, telling us to go back to Iraq."

The 16-year-old said the man seated behind him started spitting at him and spilling his beer on him and his friends.

"By the end of the song, he pulled my ear. I got up. He pushed me. I pushed him," said Felix. "He punched me in my face. I got him off me."

When the dust settled, Fanaselle had been handcuffed and released. He and John McCambridge were cited for "mutual combat" and fighting in public. That's a $200 fine. Fanaselle's lawyer says you don't have to stand for a country and western song.

"I guess next time, he'll think maybe we need to stand for the Okie From Muscogee," said attorney Clayton Rawlings. "This is phony patriotism. This man needs to be ashamed of himself for what he did."

Rawlings says he and the Fanaselle family will give McCambridge a chance to make this right without going to court. The family says the biggest insult was McCambridge telling Fanaselle to go back to Iraq. Fanaselle is half Hispanic and half Italian.

"He was born in this country and who is this clown to tell him to go back where he came from? He came from Houston, Texas, so he is where he came from," said Rawlings.

Rawlings says if the citation isn't dismissed after witnesses testify, they'll be going to court with accusations of assault and battery, mental anguish and lawyer's fees. Eyewitness news tried to contact John McCambridge in Austin for his side of the story, but so far there's been no response.
Robert - Oklahoma City, Ok
I really love this song. it is cheezy and sappy and I lov eit because it is. it can sweep you up in the emotions by which it was intended and it can also beg you to be a bit more introspective on your life, regardless where you are. I personnaly feel sorry for some of the folks who have the negative comments, even though it is by their living here in America that they have that freedom or right if you will. I know you say hey what about those in other countries, well they are throwing stones this way aren't they. Lets see them truly speak against a country that isn't as forgiving as the US. I thnk that this song embodies exactly what it is, a country by the people for the people; for which it stands, one nation under God. Thanks Lee.Danny - Lawton, Ok
This Song Is One Of The Best Songs Of All Time. I Believe in everything he says in this song. I to stand behind my country, and will always stand behind my country!!! Anyone who talks badly about this song is in my opinion talking bad about this wonderful country, and does not deserve to live in it. So here's to everyone who speaks badly of our country, start respeting the country you're in or get the HELL out!!! There are to many people in this country that peak poorly of it, and yet they continue to live here!!! What's that!!! If it's so bad why haven't you left yet??? HUH??? Answer me that!!! OH is it that you can't go anywhere else in the world and be free and happy??? This Song to me is a symbol of our country and our country's freedom and anyone who disrespects that should just leave!!!Steven - Battle Ground, Wa
Everyone has the right to like or dislike this song. As a Vet I don't care if he served in the military or not. But spreading lies about him is unforgivable. He was a father at 17 and given 3A draft status because of it. I recommend that all Buffoons go to Snopes.com and check out the facts before they post garbage like draft dodger and shirked the military. Great song. I wish it had come out in the sixties when I served then maybe the people in my country wouldn't have treated us as bad as they did. They blamed us for Nam not the politicians and we can thank the media for that.Larry - Tobaccoville, Nc
Patriotic songs are supposed to be sapy, or at least feel sapy. It's like bragging to a friend about how great your kid is at baseball, it may be true, but others feel weird hearing you brag about it. I like the song, it's about my country, the best country in the world and I'm not sorry that I feel that way.Shawn - Fullerton, Ca
I know Lee Greenwood is a good and honorable man and I've never doubted his sincerity in writing and performing this song, but just the same I think it's one of the worst pieces of jingoistic crap I've ever heard. But I don't blame Greenwood...I blame the rednecks and Republican politicians who have turned it into an anthem of the phony patriotism they practice. If these people had their way it would probably replace "The Star Spangled Banner" as our national anthem. Like so many others here, I got tired of hearing it played ad nauseum after September 11, 2001. This song doesn't make me feel patriotic at all. It reminds me of the hubris and lies that have led to the deaths of almost 4,000 Americans as of the time of this writing.Sam - Lincoln, Ne
I love this song it makes me feel very good. I served in the Navy for 4 years so it touches my heart when I listen to it. Even though Lee did not serve that makes no difference. He supports the troops and in my eyes that is a big deal. I have had the opportunity to see several artists come and entertain us while we were in the gulf and it lifted our spirits. So when a singer like Lee creates a song like this and puts his heart into it, it makes me feel glad to know that the support is out there.Shannon - Buckhannon, Wv
I hate Patriotic songs, especially American ones.
So cheesy and annoying.
Pasky - Lincolnshire, England
this song is the best song ever and it reminds me of my dad who is in the army and lee greenwood wrote this song because he is proud to be an american and those who disagree are not true americans cause true americans stan up for our nationShellbie - Belton, Tx
I hate this song. It's jingoistic, and I just can't stand it whatsoever. Screw Lee Greenwood. I hate him.Dee - Northfield, Il
Lee Greenwood has never served a day in the armed forces. Country stations still play his song often in Minnesota.Randy Lyken - Minneapolis, Mn
I saw Lee Greenwood being interviewed on Larry King about this song and was impressed with what a humble man Lee is. The song paints an amazingly beautiful picture with simple words that describes what many U.S.A. citizens think and feel about their country. To me, that's how a classic tune is born: a simple, passionate song written by one, expresses how millions feel.Camille - Toronto, Oh
I like this song. It made me sad when the replica of the Vietnam Veterans memorial (looks just the same, only smaller) came to our city and they played this song just after I'd found my uncle's name on the wall. I always think of him during the line "and I won't forget the men who died".Jacqueline - Detroit, Mi
I purchased a patriotic CD after 9/11 with this song on it & every time I listen to it, I literally get chills afterward. It is THAT GOOD! Spyder doesn't know what he's talking about.Anthony Bidwell - Shoreview, Mn
I think this song is overrated, Back in the 90's they played this song everyday at my elementary school, followed by the pledge of allegance. This song is not only offensive on the ears I think that it is really obnoxious, with pauses between verses. He tryed to rewrite the national anthem. Get a life greenwood.Cowticket - Indiana, In
i love patrioct songs this one is my favirot proud to be an american god bless the usaKyle - Hb, Ny
I hate patriotic songs and this is one of the worst!
"It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens. - "Baha'u'llah
Kelli - Cedar Rapids, Ia
I love the USA, but it is a cheezy song.
"And I'll gladly stand up (long pause-insert boom effect) next to her and defend her still today/cause there ain't no doubt I luv this place/God bless the USA!" I got tired of hearing this song after the gulf war in 1991.
Adrian - Duluth, Ga
I have an interesting story dealing with this song. I was in Washington DC with the Close-Up group - a company that takes high school students from around the country to Washington to learn how government is *supposed* to work. On the last day, we had a little ceremony, and some students did talent acts. One student performed this song. The thing is, she was deaf. She signed the entire song, and in time with the lyrics. What was very moving about this was that near the end of the song when Greenwood sings "And I gladly stand up", the girl signed "stand up", and the entire ballroom stood up. We all sang along with the last verse, and gave her a standing ovation. Her teacher was speechless.Patrick - Conyers, Ga
This song is so overrated and overplayed, get over it people, you dont need a cheesy song like this to love your countryZola - Dublin, Oh
This song is awesome, it makes me get goose bumps whenever I hear it, along with Toby Keith's "Angry American." I think these are two of the best patriotic songs ever recordedDee - Indianapolis, In
I love this song!! It reminds me what we are fighting over in Iraq for and I hope that the soldiers over there know how much we appreciate them.Lora - North Platte, Ne
The relief if irony heals. Lee Greenwood was not a draft dodger, this irony was created to bad mouth him.Matthew - Cornwall, England
I love "God Bless the U.S.A." It makes me feel so patriotic.Elaine - Wilkes-barre, Sc
Irony stabs deep, I've heard that Lee Greenwood was a draft dodger.Spyder - Someplace, Md
It's one of my favorite patriotic songs!Tiffany - Dover, Fl
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