God Bless the USA
|"God Bless the USA"|
|Single by Lee Greenwood|
|from the album You've Got a Good Love Comin'|
|B-side||This Old Bed|
|Released||May 21, 1984|
|Format||Audio cassette (original release)
CD single (re-release)
|Length||3:09 (album & single versions)
5:30 (video version)
|Lee Greenwood singles chronology|
"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. The song was also re-recorded in 2003 and released as "God Bless the USA 2003". The song also rose up in popularity in May 2011 when Osama bin Laden was killed by an American raid in Pakistan. Greenwood also wrote a Canadian version of this song called "God Bless You Canada". The song has sold over a million copies in the United States by July 2015.
Background and writing
Greenwood wrote God Bless the USA in response to his feelings about the shooting down of Korean Air Lines Flight 007. He 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." As for writing the song itself, Greenwood wrote that it more or less "wrote itself", and that the lyrics flowed naturally from the music as a reflection of his pride to be American.
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—Motortown and the oil industry, so I just poetically wrote that in the bridge."
In the song, an unnamed man sings about how, if he were to lose everything he had and had to start again from scratch, he would do it in the USA because he is guaranteed his freedom in America. He remembers how other Americans in history had died to secure this freedom, and declares that if he is ever called upon to defend the USA today, he will gladly stand up and fight because he loves the country.
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, also on VHS, and was directed by Edd Griles. A third music video was also released after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
"God Bless the USA" debuted on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart for the week of May 26, 1984.
|US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)||7|
|US Billboard Hot 100||26|
|US Billboard Hot 100||16|
|US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)||16|
|US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)||12|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,124,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
Other notable versions
American Idol finalists' version
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. 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. It reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and it was certified gold by the RIAA the same year.
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. Knowles performed the song on Piers Morgan Tonight on May 5, 2011. After the performance, her version was released as a single to the iTunes Store. 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..." 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. Ronald Mitchell of Newsday commented that "It does our hearts good to see Beyonce work her magic for the greater good." 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." In Beyoncé's version, the end of the second verse is sung "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."
Dolly Parton version
- "God Bless America", song written by Irving Berlin
- Stephanie Pendergrass (March 13, 2013). "Lee Greenwood Reflects on "God Bless the USA"". CMT.
- "American song gets new twist". Austin American-Statesman. Austin, TX. April 21, 1989. p. A18. Retrieved July 3, 2013.
- Matt Bjorke (July 13, 2015). "The Top 30 Digital Country Singles: July 13, 2015". Roughstock.
- Campbell, Ramsey (May 23, 1993). "Lake Woman Co-Authors Story Behind "God Bless the U.S.A."". Retrieved July 14, 2010.
- Gallagher, Pat (May 28, 2010). "Lee Greenwood 'God Bless the USA' Story behind the lyrics". The Boot. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
- "God Bless The U.S.A. Lyrics".
- "Lee Greenwood – Chart history" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Lee Greenwood.
- "Lee Greenwood – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Lee Greenwood.
- "Lee Greenwood – Chart history" Billboard Adult Contemporary for Lee Greenwood.
- "American single certifications – Lee Greenwood – God Bless the U.S.A.". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved March 31, 2016. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
- Bjorke, Matt (November 21, 2016). "Top 30 Digital Singles Sales Report: November 21, 2016". Roughstock.
- Sale Of 'American Idol' Finalist CDs Raises $185,000
- Fred Bronson (March 5, 2013). "Top 100 'American Idol' Hits of All Time". Billboard. Retrieved March 6, 2013.
- "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
- "Beyonce Knowles - Beyonce Releasing Patriotic Charity Single". Contactmusic.com. May 5, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
- Martin, Dan (May 6, 2011). "Beyonce debuts charity single God Bless the USA". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
- Perpetua, Matthew (May 5, 2011). "Beyoncé to Debut Song on 'Piers Morgan Tonight'". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved April 29, 2012.
- Lipshutz, Jason (May 6, 2011). "Beyonce Releases 'God Bless the USA' for Charity: Listen". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
- "God Bless the USA -Single by Beyoncé". iTunes Store. Apple Inc. Archived from the original on May 9, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
- Vena, Jocelyn (May 6, 2011). "Beyonce Releases 'God Bless The USA' For Charity". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
- Mitchell, Ronald (May 6, 2011). "Follow Friday: Celebs to follow on Twitter this week". Newsday. Retrieved April 29, 2012.
- 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.
- "Beyonce - God Bless The Usa Lyrics". Elyricsworld.com. Retrieved 2014-02-08.
- Collins, Ace. Songs Sung, Red, White, and Blue: The Stories Behind America's Best-Loved Patriotic Songs. HarperResource, 2003. ISBN 0060513047
- Ferguson, James (December 6, 2005). Aradhana Sharma, ed. The Anthropology of the State: A Reader (Paperback). Blackwell Readers in Anthropology. Akhil Gupta (first ed.). Wiley. p. 424. ISBN 1-4051-1468-1.