July 22

No Place like Home: Lee Greenwood Dishes Backstory behind ‘God Bless the USA’

If you’re trying to figure out which patriotic song sings closest to the heart of America, then God Bless the USA hands down bests all songs in the list. In an interview with The Boot, Lee Greenwood shares how he had always desired to write a song that speaks of his home country. The idea had been playing on his mind for quite some time—and he finally got the chance to write it during the first half of the 1980’s.

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No Place like Home: Lee Greenwood Dishes Backstory behind ‘God Bless the USA’ 1

He tells that all his life, he had always wanted to write it, making it like a huge life goal for the singer-songwriter. Thus, in the midst of all the road shows and album releases for MCA, Greenwood decides to give his producer a call and express just how much writing the said song would mean the world to him. The words that ran through his lips were:

We just need to be more united.

As he began writing, Greenwood and his producer agreed that the four cities to be mentioned in the song would be located in the four corners of the United States. “It could have been Seattle or Miami, but we chose New York and LA”. The singer also admits that he didn’t know anyone from Virginia or New York since he is originally from California. The other two cities were Detroit and Houston, his producer stating that both cities were part of the country’s economic foundation (through the oil industry and Motown).

The first time he presented the song to the audience was during an onstage performance in 1983. He performed it mid-way through the show as a brand new track. The crowd was instantly drawn to the masterfully crafted lyrics and melody, giving two thumbs’ up and a fervor of loud cheering, boisterous jumping, and warm applause. Over the two weeks that Greenwood performed the song, he discovered that the songs took on different interpretations, having been dedicated to U.S. Army General Norman Schwarzkopf, to the victims and survivors of Hurricane Katrina as a song of life and hope, and to the rebuilding and unity of the US nation after the 9/11 attack. Greenwood was extremely proud of his patriotic masterpiece. “It’s my family’s heritage” was how he would best describe God Bless the USA.

God Bless the USA was ‘solidified’ in his 1992 album, American Patriot. It reached the 7th spot on the country charts after its first release in 1984. In the same year, the song was played at the Republican National Convention, and later on, had been used as a voice for protesters during different times of unrest in the US.

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