CMA Male Vocalist of the Year (1982-1983) Lee Greenwood is known for numerous songs like “I.O.U,” “It Turns Me Inside Out” and Dixie Road.” But none has made the most impact than his “God Bless the USA” which he also sang during the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy.
Greenwood was asked about why he chose to sing the song for that event. He said that before he even got to the stage, he had doubts that it may not be the right song for that time. The song “God Bless the USA” was not meant to be a song of remorse. Rather, it presented a very encouraging, hopeful and spirited theme.
When Lee Greenwood and his wife moved to New York, they asked the city mayor what help they could offer. The people then requested him to sing “God Bless the USA.” This led to his emotional performance which happened during the fourth game of the world series at the Yankees Stadium.
They held a memorial in honor of the 300 firemen that were killed. The performance featured Bette Midler who sang “Wind Beneath My Wings,” Marc Anthony who sang “God Bless America,” and Lee Greenwood for “God Bless the USA.”
All of the doubts that Greenwood had for his song choice was all washed out once he started singing. When he reached the chorus, fans who were in attendance stood up holding pictures of their beloved firemen who perished.
God Bless the USA
The song was written and released in 1983. Through the years, the song’s influence and message have continued to spread and still was one of the most moving songs we’ve ever heard.
From a member of his church choir to becoming an iconic artist, Lee Greenwood’s fame started when his self-written song was released in 1984. It peaked at number 7 on the Billboard chart. The song gained an amazing climb after his 2001 performance of the song. It turned double platinum, selling over one million copies in the US.
In 1983, Greenwood placed “God Bless the USA” in the middle of his song list in one of his concerts. As soon as he sang the song, the audience suddenly applauded and was delighted by the new single. He did not expect such great a reception from the public for this particular song.
When asked about how he came up with the song, Lee Greenwood looked back to his childhood and to the foundation of his faith. Greenwood has been exposed to all kinds of American music. He was trained in music theory in high school and played various instruments. He would later pick the saxophone and the keyboard to be his main instrument.
When he penned “God Bless the USA,” everything from his roots was brought back to him. He also had influences from Stan Kenton’s jazz and Ray Charles’ soulful music. Greenwood said that he was blessed by God to be able to write such a wonderful song. As a Christian, Lee Greenwood believed that his faith was one thing that he brought to Nashville. He added that the song would always have a part in his career, and to be able to write such a powerful song for the American people may be an impossible feat to repeat.
Lee Greenwood and “God Bless the USA”
Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” was a song that speaks life, hope and resilience. In times of difficulties, playing this song had always given us an extra push to overcome. When General Schwarzkopf used “God Bless the USA” as his war song in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it was a song for life and hope. After the 9/11 attack, it was a song for unity and rebuilding.
“God Bless the USA” and Lee Greenwood’s experience in the songwriting process have taught us a lesson. He never expected it to become such an empowering song, but it turned as one of the vital parts for the nation to recover from a devastating tragedy. In the same manner, anyone could be a bearer of hope through the simplest acts of kindness we do for one another.