30 Years of “God Bless the USA”
Singer/songwriter Lee Greenwood talks to Alan about penning a classic patriotic song.
- Duration 17:43
- Date Feb 1, 2013
Singer/songwriter Lee Greenwood talks to Alan about penning a classic patriotic song.
Also in this playlist...
This transcript is automatically generated
I welcome the legendary Lee Greenwood has earned a multiple CMA CM awards.
The Grammy Award winning two studio album seven compilation albums 38 singles.
The author of this god still bless the USA plea for better America and the thirtieth anniversary.
Of the iconic.
God bless the USA hey you know -- -- Thanks -- mailing list let me just -- -- spin here this is thirty years old now here we go.
-- -- And I and his.
Trying -- -- and really wanted to play the whole thing as a snippet -- I just love how the song builds and builds and and the -- comes around and -- -- when you say stand up and and you take that beat in between.
That in the next phrase I wonder how that came back -- you don't expect that to be happening at the end of the -- But I can live -- towards that.
What can the Nashville.
You know I I took -- -- the told the country actually they're just regrettable and Charley pride it's kind of -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- As you start the last chorus around.
It's -- That he's.
The -- -- like a little little hesitation.
And I have had the musicians.
I think in bars and meters numbers.
And I thought you know this is a good time to take a breath right here and kind of reflect a little country music and that's why.
There's very effective.
Very effective I can gradually thirty years I -- you had no idea that when you wrote this in 1983 would have the legs I guess it has today still.
How can only -- -- the -- of the studio and had a record hit that first of the second of I can't write -- for -- Already in the can and we've had -- on the radio and MTA -- -- -- McEntire George Strait by government.
And the local exploration -- is stable of stars.
And I did you know I have a platform now.
To write a song that I wanted to write all my life couldn't writes I would think it's almost twenty years in the capital many of the great you know indicators the rat pack.
If that was an opening act for bill medley that's me with open -- it in the main room just.
And I think of -- the -- and overseas to close this shows they don't want to all the time.
And I -- that's what I wanted to do I want to write a song that -- my show like that.
And but I had no idea -- -- saw statistic came to me one day is right down and -- and down the road in the book.
-- of Vegas by the way you gave up going to your graduation and you not to to go to Vegas to perform.
Yeah I want to -- first Allen and what didn't -- talented it was ninety miles frustrated Sacramento California and I haven't really it's to get out of town that would take out of prison my grandparents on a farm.
And I I guess I had wanderlust I got to go and I grandparents gave me a car and -- you graduated here you are.
And I started well I started at the golden hotel in Reno Nevada that ignited a graduation but can't hit the irony is that the principal of the school and I'm -- -- will miss his name's.
It's good to me when I respected by the public that you'll get -- of your diploma my dead body because you didn't go through the graduation ceremony.
He thought that was very important that I have been that that bad experienced.
And you know what two years later he died and went back and got.
-- -- -- -- The -- with -- string on her finger time -- their hands well is that before god bless you were saying -- the charts in 1982.
Number five number two in Canada by the way didn't return to.
I made enough ethnic -- that that they didn't write that degree and even McEntire to the cover of it a bit but then -- great thing about those kinds of songs some of which you have -- held.
The stories they tell that's what's so great of -- country music right.
We have had a heart to it you know that it's.
We have a lot of songs about strategy and break up and and the emotions that's tied up when people have.
At present between them you know and then the men women think differently you're gonna have those problems.
In god bless the USA moving forward now a year after -- had this song out 1983.
You wrote this in the back of a bus correct.
You have got a lot of road somewhere and I can't say we're probably to an Arkansas Texas and you know with a lot of touring the United States.
If you stay -- -- -- because I'm from California and I spent twenty years in Nevada.
I had really -- the United States but until -- -- -- compared with the national.
Well then I started.
Getting the geography in mind that the US predicament without -- first.
But the rest of the country and it really did give insight to how people think and how much -- -- -- America.
This would Wear a son just came to you quickly did it would do you have to struggle over and I -- get the sense that it just kind of flow and adding it.
Yeah it was pretty clear there I think I labored with -- What how to put this city you know -- actually -- to Houston New York to a right.
-- read my neighbors of course is that that time.
And then it has its.
Deteriorated that Detroit was Motown was ahead of the auto industry and and Houston was the within our industry and it probably still that tech is that.
But it -- the public defenders new York and Los Angeles.
You're -- -- I had a record I think around 1617 years old and it -- that American Bandstand Philadelphia and the departure.
And have -- -- thirteen year old kids who come out of school they would vote on the ground and unfortunately my -- -- -- -- of my life.
My career which is my first -- or without you get this to happen is that the tenant at number.
-- -- here for another 45 years thanks to those thirteen year old that.
I got to thinking about you know what was important in Philadelphia those days where you're main places the -- across the United States you would.
The Chubby Checker did that with a twist or -- USA right.
Did you always sit out to be -- country artists.
No my background of jazz and rhythm and blues.
I didn't play dixieland opened Disneyland in 1955 -- back to found in the keystone cops quartet.
In particular may be my favorite music but I certainly -- my mother with the jazz player.
That's probably -- navy band and and so I have kind of a market and I hit first song I ever learned -- about panel by myself but I hear what stand cantons.
Artistry in rhythm.
And and I with a horn player from then on I think I got a place -- -- you know it's amazing when you talk artists like you and people who know new is in that particular niche like country music and they don't really always get.
Or understand or aware of the broad spectrum music that you are capable of participate in and and in fact have a background.
You know what they -- -- the battle that was sixteen years old.
And I -- I'd go across the -- from the hobo hotel Paris Club was right behind it.
And they brought in those acts from Nashville and people who -- -- -- with a stunned at how good they were.
And I used to go listen to them and I understood that they were jazz player still a lot of them but they -- documented because that they live that's -- -- -- the money.
Conway Twitty was again you get -- rockabilly -- -- what they haven't and no Jerry Lee Lewis and although in those guys.
Who really some of color -- earlier stuff I love them in and very different than than what he really became known for.
Well Kenny Rogers with jazz bass player Ronnie Millsap -- piano player and he had great jobs that was great deep into the great piano player.
A lot of people don't know how well they play -- -- one of the best guitar players in Nashville and he notices player.
And you can't always plan on simply crossing over ten.
Well no that's that's the hardest door to go through your life.
And I've had about six -- that actually did cross over before the door closed.
-- -- now god bless the USA.
Has become an anthem and in many cases a conservative -- -- -- your politics -- minor very different and you supported Romney.
But did you you never probably thought that this would be when you're writing an -- weren't thinking.
Well this'll be great for conservatives.
Verses liberals and I'm sure that was not in your head when -- wrote the -- No weapons and and -- effect because my father served in the navy in World War II the -- -- -- this -- -- in this song a little -- and then it died because they recognize the sacrifices they've made.
And even my kids when they were like nine -- ten they actually what I meant by that -- I have to explain to them you know that the the ultimate sacrifice is -- giving your life.
And so -- -- -- them for that reason but when the sun came out in 1983.
It was -- -- song for spirit -- hope and just to pull people together.
Oddly enough the Democratic Convention was going to be effective system that next -- and everything that they commissioner says no you would do.
New Republican -- Caspian and I said no.
Instead Ronald Reagan's.
Staff called that they were gonna make a film that Ronald Reagan's life can we use your film and it's a -- and it's.
And I think what yes because I political Ronald Reagan well then it got tied -- -- the conservatives and that's been my choice but yeah but I never -- for that reason.
Deerfield or as a performer I guess in my I guess some of the country artists tend to be.
Conservative and that for some reason country music appeals to conservatives.
For some reason more than liberals although I think you know as a liberal myself I distort it WH and -- New York when it was a country station.
I spend a lot of my career in country music so.
I don't have that left right thing about it but.
Is there -- frustrating -- is that.
That it doesn't reach out beyond the political base of being too conservative.
Finally did and I and I have a lot of liberal friends -- the conservative friends.
And when I play for the target that I cannot use MySpace the pulpit.
-- artist has done that and it's been in this.
And I think that you can ask for Romney in and leave -- spoken and a conservative causes.
The ever fear that you're alienating a part of a potential audience when you do that.
I don't think it's competitive broadcasts that I'd never stood up and and made that statement.
I know that I think it -- -- -- -- -- what amounts to over the conservatives.
Right now now for example god bless the USA which had a resurgence.
After a 9/11.
Which is not the reason you want a resurgence obviously but then -- -- eleven beyoncé recorded it.
Proceeds going to benefit New York police and fire wind -- and fire widows and children benefit fund beyoncé certainly not a conservative -- -- I doubt.
Our consider you know where you are pulled the Clinton -- yes.
You know and I and I also by the way -- a member of the national down for the arts council when the president and for the next three years I'll be doing.
That was duty and one of my duty is to dominate those people for the national -- I nominated James Taylor and James Taylor -- for the current president.
So it's you know I don't have a one sided I mean I think kind of in the middle and take -- -- all of us to be patriots.
By the way you're very good to me because you allowed me to use the lyrics have god bless you -- -- my first book thank liberals for saving America.
And -- trying to find -- my latest but red white and liberal with my earlier -- can you -- you gave me permission to use -- netbook and -- grateful for that.
What are you doing now in terms of writing he's still right -- a regular basis.
Yes I haven't haven't found -- -- -- it's called I wanna be in your world -- this year and that two other songs on -- which sort of expose my desktops a little bit.
Because I -- -- opponent and as a matter of fact.
I'm gonna play with the united states air force -- -- constitution.
March 19 and I'm going to be doing some of the songs from my background not just.
You know the country -- in the patriotic conflict over the jazz -- it was something else.
Little bit more pop oriented.
Is this still the desire to I want to get the hit I wanna get the single out there I wanna be on the charts.
Or you beyond that at this point in your career.
That you have -- beyond that but I but I do think that it's it's.
Pretty -- We don't have that kind of pressure like I -- have a hit record.
None of them and I am a senior understand and expect it I mean it's it's the award winner receives seven times male vocalist of the year you know I had on the -- Nashville.
Male -- seat of his DNA -- the -- -- rewards are pretty much how you build your career what you do to your career you're -- a place where.
I think Johnny -- -- -- music and god bless the Internet because -- can just throw it up on the Internet speed of the that the territory is stations for.
You ever up there are you doing god bless the USA when -- -- -- songs that you've done so lovely and you're thinking about getting it to courts milk -- go to get.
And it is like you've done so many times as your mind wander.
No it does not as a matter of fact this look -- this this damn thing that new stadium for the volunteers.
The largest stadium in the country but I didn't 6000 people and the during the tablet -- as they start -- my National Anthem -- -- I think it lives and I've -- that many times and people stand up.
The -- -- -- audience -- imagine the gladiators out -- ago you step on you know and the people rise to the applause.
Some of the line and -- gladiator and the guy told the that it is told activity after saying it's.
The played -- they said he will be -- to a new freedom.
Yeah and it's kind of like that you know I mean I feel like I'm glad it and it did all these people -- alliance you know and.
And the energy is going to be you know when they stand up and they can they respond view and they they identify with your music -- -- to be of an incredibly heady experience.
But does -- have they have my complete attention I guarantee.
Then -- it is grand -- opry for every eighth.
You're in rocky mountain North Carolina march 2 to get constitution hall march 10 he got a very big tour schedule coming up yeah.
We just start -- -- -- for the year.
And and they're coming pretty quickly respectability Christmas shows which we have.
Of course I'm doing the book tour and very doing advertisements are all across the radio and TV network about the thirty year anniversary goblet.
Is that the most requested -- you do when you're.
Performing publish the US and.
It depends on the audience -- -- I would say probably generally speaking yes.
People wait to hear that it's kind of like I didn't do the hotel California energy equals C upstaged by but on the other hand my country people like the songs that you played bringing her finger.
Detectives say that was our first thought people would like this -- nearly hits.
And and -- does have been more requests.
And you have a book out -- god still bless the USC a -- for a better America.
Yeah I -- -- in particular if you have a -- and try to -- about the bottom.
If it includes country song downloads but another way to get my music to pick up the book there's a new version -- -- states.
The one you played at the very first one -- liquidity it has -- two persons since then.
And also Christians are called children the way that's simply download the -- -- I'm delighted to talk do you think if -- -- program tonight congratulations on thirty years of you know the song that everybody knows it which is a rarity in our business you've really accomplished a great deal thank you for being -- audience and I appreciate.
The -- thanks so very much.
Thanks so much Lee Greenwood god bless the USA now thirty years old and his book is.
Does god still bless the USA a plea for better America.