Lee Greenwood Looks Back on 40 Years Since Releasing Patriotic Anthem ‘God Bless the USA’

by Samantha Whidden

More than 40 years after the release of his single God Bless The U.S.A., Lee Greenwood is revealing how the song came to be and why it became so popular.

While opening up about how he was able to get the song record, Lee Greenwood told the Tennessean, “Well, it took me almost three years after I got to Nashville as a touring artist, and there wasn’t any interest in releasing God Bless the U.S.A. as a single record. If you were pursuing a career, it was romantic love songs, ballads that really hit the public right in the heart.”

Lee Greenwood further shared that when he was touring with so many different acts, he became inspired again to write the song. He ended up writing it on his bus in 1983.

“When Universal made the call after they heard U.S.A. on [You’ve Got a Good Love Comin’] I was just surprised.”

While admitting that he didn’t think the song would actually draw attention, Lee Greenwood explains that he thought it would be a song in his discography that he would be proud of. But that would be it. “When it got on the radio, the audience heard it, it became the song for the National Guard of Tennessee and then the military.”

Lee Greenwood said the song carried on even through presidential campaigns (’84 Reagan), the Gulf War, September 11th, and Hurricane Katrina. He said each time it was made popular through historical events, Americans would find God Bless the U.S.A. to be a song of spirit and unity. 

Lee Greenwood Talks About His Life Before Becoming a Musician 

Also during his interview with Tennessean, Lee Greenwood shared more details about his upbringing. He was notably raised on a farm in Sacramento, California. His parents were divorced when he was a year old. His grandparents became his guardians. 

“My father joined the Navy after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941,” Lee Greenwood recalled. “So you can see I was born about a year later.”

Lee Greenwood also said that his mother had worked several jobs in order o support him and his sister. She struggled so much that his grandparents were stepping in to help. His mother was also a piano player in the 40s. “We had a little Spinet piano in the corner of our trailer. I was allowed to play every evening if I wanted to. It was just something I could not tear myself away from.”

Greenwood also began to play at The American Legion, The VFW, and was marching in parades. He grew to be immersed in all kinds of music. He goes on to add, “I really enjoyed the marches of Sousa and many of the other composers. [I liked] leading my own band in The National Anthem.”