What does this statement conjure up for you?
The answers are likely as different and diverse as the population in this country. Many look at this this statement as an indictment on our government for losing sight of true priorities. They know or feel that only God can help or save our country – certainly that is a prevalent sentiment today!
Or they feel it is a different indictment on our government and on our nation as a whole, that we have separated ourselves from God and lost God. That we need His blessings to return our nation to putting God first in everything we do.
Some people look at this statement as an outcome. That our nation has been so blessed by God already, and that’s how we have grown to be one of the most free, developed, wealthy, and technologically advanced countries on Earth.
And I feel many know that at its core, this country is great, we have been blessed by God, but we will always need more blessings to continue to stay free, grow, and prosper.
No matter which of the above describes your feelings or view, or even if there is another thought that emerges when you hear this phrase, I’m betting that all of you, if you’re asked to think about this phrase as it relates to music, all of you are immediately reminded of a song that was released 38 years ago last month.
The man who wrote it and performed it was no-doubt blessed by God. The fact that we have heard this song, is a blessing from God. And hopefully the lyrics and instrumentals behind this song, and the beautiful images this song conjures up of this country, will continue to bless all of us…and our nation, for many years to come.
Lee Greenwood, is this man. I’m sure many of you know this but the fact that this song came to be, clearly shows the power, blessings…and LOVE of God for Mr. Greenwood, and by association with this song, for all of us and our country.
Greenwood was born during World War II. His father was already serving abroad and thus his mom had to give birth and begin raising Lee essentially as a “single” mom. Greenwood also had a sister leaving mom to raise both children, which meant she had to work two jobs, sometimes three, just to finically support the children. Because his mom was often at work, Lee and his sister were really raised by their grandparents.
While most very young boys were frolicking around outside, getting into all sorts of mischief, playing ball, and climbing trees, Lee somehow was being drawn to music. As he told it, in a September 1, 2021 Dave Paulson interview of Greenwood, for the Nashville Tennessean; “We had a little Spinet piano in the corner of our trailer. I was allowed to play every evening if I wanted to and it was just something I could not tear myself away from.”
Raising money for the family to get by, at age 15 and 16, he spent time working for the USO, where he got to see firsthand the challenges and sacrifices the military members had to make.
Later, as he tried to grow and pursue a music career, he got to spend a great deal of time around military bases. His struggling band would often play for the service men and women, which fostered a true appreciation and respect for these same challenges and sacrifices he witnessed while at the USO.
He tried a music career in Hollywood which was not at all successful, so he spent roughly 20 years working various jobs, some music gigs, even dealing cards in casinos in Nevada. In the same previously mentioned interview, he said this time taught him a lot about people – how they each handled life differently. How they each uniquely handled the pressures of life, up and downs, marriage and divorce, gambling, drinking, etc. Greenwood would say that these years taught him the psychology of people and what truly mattered to them. He stated these experiences kept telling him that he had to write a song that reflected the people and the country.
He eventually ventured to Nashville, to again try to launch a music career. Struggling for several years, he earned a decent living, but music superstar wasn’t something he felt would ever happen. He had released a few albums when he wrote God Bless the USA. But the kind of music he was recording wasn’t selling. Even this song once written, wasn’t what the record companies were buying and promoting. In this same interview, he would state: “If you were pursuing a career, it was romantic love songs, ballads that really hit the public right in the heart.”
However, someone did eventually take note of this song, albeit it was a far departure to what was selling at the time. Greenwood would describe how this happened in that same interview, as he described his newest album release, the first album to contain the song: “You’ve Got a Good Love Comin',” the title of the album that year for release for 1984. When Universal made the call after they heard “U.S.A.” on that album to release it as a single, I was just surprised. I think that if that had not happened, no one would have ever heard the song, and it probably would have just been one of those things in my discography that I was proud of, but it was more than that."
"When it got on the radio, the audience heard it, it became the song for the National Guard of Tennessee, and then the military, and then with President Reagan and his ‘84 campaign, which I was part of, and then moved forward to Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf War – not in that order – and the (September 11) attack on America. Each time, more Americans found “God Bless the U.S.A” to be a song of spirit and unity. It didn’t happen overnight.”
Lee Greenwood is a native America with ancestry reaching back to England, and Germany. Born and raised in California, he has experienced the good and bad of life, chased a career that wasn’t all he thought it would be, and kept his faith and belief in the country throughout the entire journey. He will tell you he is a strong Christian and Conservative, but make no mistake, he is not at all a politician or even fond of politics. He does everything he can to support our country, our service men and women, and the American principles that founded our country. In fact, during the Covid-19 lock down, he recruited some very special people to re-record a unique version of this song, in hopes that it would renew faith and hope in a troubling time. See the EPILOGUE below if you wish to see and hear this incredible version.
There is no mistake that Lee Greenwood never rose to “stardom” and fame in music, but he has overcome a tumultuous upbringing and challenging start to his adult life. Most importantly, he may have given us the very best anthem, short of the National Anthem, that any true American could ever have.
God Bless You Lee Greenwood…and…God Bless the U.S.A !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
EPILOGUE: In the heart of the Covid-19 Pandemic, Lee Greenwood recruited singers from the US Military, past and present, to remix a version of this song – it is beautifully done. If you have not heard the song, or just want to enjoy it again, a You Tube video can be found at this link. Thank you YouTube, Lee Greenwood, and to our wonderful soldiers!!!!!!!!!!