God Bless the USA

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"God Bless the USA"
Single by Lee Greenwood
from the album You've Got a Good Love Comin'
B-sideThis Old Bed
ReleasedMay 21, 1984 (original release)
October 9, 2001 (re-release)
RecordedNovember 1983
Nashville, Tennessee
GenrePatriotic, country
Length3:09
LabelMCA Nashville
Writer(s)Lee Greenwood[1]
Producer(s)Jerry Crutchfield
Lee Greenwood singles chronology
"Going, Going, Gone"
(1983)
"God Bless the USA"
(1984)
"Fool's Gold"
(1984)
Alternative cover
2001 single cover
 
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"God Bless the USA"
Single by Lee Greenwood
from the album You've Got a Good Love Comin'
B-sideThis Old Bed
ReleasedMay 21, 1984 (original release)
October 9, 2001 (re-release)
RecordedNovember 1983
Nashville, Tennessee
GenrePatriotic, country
Length3:09
LabelMCA Nashville
Writer(s)Lee Greenwood[1]
Producer(s)Jerry Crutchfield
Lee Greenwood singles chronology
"Going, Going, Gone"
(1983)
"God Bless the USA"
(1984)
"Fool's Gold"
(1984)
Alternative cover
2001 single cover

"God Bless the USA" is an American patriotic song written and recorded by country music artist Lee Greenwood, and is considered to be his signature song. The first album it appears on is 1984's You've Got a Good Love Comin'. It reached No. 7 on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart when originally released in the spring of 1984, and was played at the 1984 Republican National Convention with President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan in attendance, but the song gained greater prominence during the Gulf War in 1990 and 1991, as a way of boosting morale.

The popularity of the song rose sharply after the September 11 attacks and during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the song was re-released as a single, re-entering the country music charts at No. 16 and peaking at No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart in 2001.[2] The song was also re-recorded in 2003 and released as "God Bless the USA 2003". The song could often be heard on the radio after those events, and versions of the song are widely distributed online. The song also rose up in popularity in May 2011 when Osama bin Laden was killed by an American raid in Pakistan.[3] Greenwood also wrote a Canadian version of this song called "God Bless Canada".[4] As of July 10, 2013, the song has sold 845,000 copies in the United States.[5]

Background and writing[edit]

Greenwood said that he "wanted to write it my whole life. When I got to that point, we were doing 300 days a year on the road, and we were on our fourth or fifth album on MCA. I called my producer, and I said I have a need to do this. I've always wanted to write a song about America, and I said we just need to be more united."[6]

The reason behind the cities chosen in the song Greenwood says, "I'm from California, and I don't know anybody from Virginia or New York, so when I wrote it—and my producer and I had talked about it—[we] talked about the four cities I wanted to mention, the four corners of the United States. It could have been Seattle or Miami but we chose New York City and Los Angeles, and he suggested Detroit and Houston because they both were economically part of the basis of our economy—Motown and the oil industry, so I just poetically wrote that in the bridge."[6]

Music video[edit]

A music video was released for this song in 1984, depicting Greenwood as a farmer who loses the family farm. The video was produced and edited by L.A. Johnson and directed by Gary Burden. A second video was released in 1991 and was directed by Edd Griles. A third music video was also released after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Chart positions[edit]

"God Bless the USA" debuted on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart for the week of May 26, 1984.

Chart (1984)Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs7
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks26
Chart (2001)Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs16
U.S. Billboard Hot 10016
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks12
Chart (2005)Peak
position
U.S. Hot Digital Songs66

Other notable versions[edit]

American Idol finalists' version[edit]

In 2003, the song was performed by the American Idol season two finalists and released as a single, with part of the proceeds going to American Red Cross . It raised $155,000 for the charity.[7] A word was changed in the released single at the request of one of the finalists who performed the song, Josh Gracin who was also a Marine. The "men" in the line "and I won’t forget the men who died" was replaced with "ones" because Gracin felt that both men and women have died, and the word was therefore changed to reflect that fact.[8] It reached No. 4 in the Hot 100,[8] and it was certified gold by the RIAA the same year.[9]

Beyoncé version[edit]

American singer Beyoncé

Again, following the death of bin Laden, R&B singer Beyoncé re-released her 2008 cover of the song, the proceeds of which will go to charity.[10] Knowles performed the song on Piers Morgan Tonight on May 5, 2011.[11][12] After the performance, her version was released as a single to the iTunes Store.[13][14] In a statement Knowles said, "I cannot think about anything more appropriate to do to help these families... Almost 10 years [after 9/11], it is still so painful for all Americans, especially those who lost loved ones. We were all affected by the tragedies of 9/11 and continue to keep the families who lost loved ones close to our hearts..."[15] Dan Martin of The Guardian felt that the cover was "in contrast" to Knowles' last intervention in national affairs, the Let's Move! Flash Workout fitness initiative.[11] Ronald Mitchell of Newsday commented that "It does our hearts good to see Beyonce work her magic for the greater good."[16] Knowles later also performed the song for the concert she had on July 4, 2011 along with "Best Thing I Never Had" (2011). Nick Neyland of Prefix Magazine commented that "Beyonce is a natural fit for occasions like this, and she doesn't even break a sweat as she hits the high notes despite the soaring temperatures and humidity in the city. That's the mark of a true pro."[17] In Beyoncé's version, the end of the second verse is changed to "And it's time to make a change", as well as changing, "If I had to start again with just my children and my wife" to "family by my side."[18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stephanie Pendergrass (March 13, 2013). "Lee Greenwood Reflects on "God Bless the USA"". CMT. 
  2. ^ http://www.song-database.com/years.php?yr=2001&peakstart=16&peakend=20
  3. ^ "Military tributes sweep across arenas". FoxSports.com. May 3, 2011. 
  4. ^ "American song gets new twist". Austin American-Statesman (Austin, TX). April 21, 1989. p. A18. Retrieved July 3, 2013. 
  5. ^ Matt Bjorke (July 10, 2013). "Country Chart News - The Top 30 Digital Singles - July 10, 2013: Florida Georgia Line, Chris Young, Tyler Farr, Brett Eldredge, Lee Greenwood, Lee Brice". Roughstock. 
  6. ^ a b Gallagher, Pat (May 28, 2010). "Lee Greenwood 'God Bless the USA' Story behind the lyrics". The Boot. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  7. ^ Sale Of 'American Idol' Finalist CDs Raises $185,000
  8. ^ a b Fred Bronson (March 5, 2013). "Top 100 'American Idol' Hits of All Time". Billboard. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  9. ^ "American digital certifications – American Idol finalist – God Bless the USA". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select ', then click SEARCH
  10. ^ "Beyonce Knowles - Beyonce Releasing Patriotic Charity Single". Contactmusic.com. May 5, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b Martin, Dan (May 6, 2011). "Beyonce debuts charity single God Bless the USA". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  12. ^ Perpetua, Matthew (May 5, 2011). "Beyoncé to Debut Song on 'Piers Morgan Tonight'". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved April 29, 2012. 
  13. ^ Lipshutz, Jason (May 6, 2011). "Beyonce Releases 'God Bless the USA' for Charity: Listen". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  14. ^ "God Bless the USA -Single by Beyoncé". iTunes Store. Apple Inc. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  15. ^ Vena, Jocelyn (May 6, 2011). "Beyonce Releases 'God Bless The USA' For Charity". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  16. ^ Mitchell, Ronald (May 6, 2011). "Follow Friday: Celebs to follow on Twitter this week". Newsday. Retrieved April 29, 2012. 
  17. ^ Neyland, Nick (July 5, 2011). "Beyonce: "The Best Thing I Never Had" And "God Bless The U.S.A." (Live At Macy's 4th Of July Fireworks) (Video)". Prefix Magazine. Retrieved April 29, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Beyonce - God Bless The Usa Lyrics". Elyricsworld.com. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]