"God Bless the U.S.A." (also known as "Proud To Be An American"[2][3][4]) is an American patriotic song written and recorded by American 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, and was re-included on his 1992 album American Patriot as a result of its newfound popularity.

"God Bless the U.S.A."
God Bless the USA 1984.jpg
Single by Lee Greenwood
from the album You've Got a Good Love Comin'
B-side"This Old Bed"
ReleasedMay 21, 1984 (1984-05-21)
Format
  • Audio cassette (original release)
  • CD single (re-release)
RecordedNovember 1983
Nashville, Tennessee
GenrePatriotic, country
Length3:10 (album & single versions)
5:30 (video version)
LabelMCA Nashville
Songwriter(s)Lee Greenwood[1]
Producer(s)Jerry Crutchfield
Lee Greenwood singles chronology
"Going, Going, Gone"
(1983)
"God Bless the U.S.A."
(1984)
"Fool's Gold"
(1984)
Alternative cover
2001 re-release cover
2001 re-release cover

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.[citation needed] The song was also re-recorded in 2003 and released as "God Bless the U.S.A. 2003". Greenwood also wrote a Canadian version of this song called "God Bless You Canada".[5] The song has sold over a million copies in the United States by July 2015.[6]

Background and writingEdit

Greenwood wrote God Bless the U.S.A. in response to his feelings about the shooting down of Korean Air Lines Flight 007.[7] 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."[8] 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.[7]

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."[8]

ContentEdit

In the song, the singer sings about how, if he were to lose everything he had and had to start again from scratch, he would do it in the United States because he believes his freedom guaranteed 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 US today, he will gladly stand up and fight because he loves the country.[9]

Music videoEdit

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.

Chart historyEdit

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

Chart (1984) Peak
position
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[10] 7
Chart (2001) Peak
position
US Billboard Hot 100[11] 16
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[10] 16
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[12] 12

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[14] Platinum 1,281,000[13]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Other notable versionsEdit

Jump5 versionEdit

Pop group Jump5 covered the song for the September 11 attacks in October 2001, altering some of the lyrics: "And I had to start again with just my children and my wife" became "And I had to start again with just my family by my side", and "I thank my lucky stars" became "I thank my God above" to reflect the group's Christian values.

Dolly Parton versionEdit

Dolly Parton recorded the song for her 2003 patriotic album, For God and Country.

American Idol finalists' versionEdit

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 the American Red Cross. It raised $155,000 for the charity.[15] 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 wanted to also acknowledge the women that have died in service, and the word was therefore changed to reflect that.[16] It reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100,[16] and it was certified gold by the RIAA the same year.[17]

Beyoncé versionEdit

 
American singer Beyoncé

Again, following the death of Osama bin Laden, R&B singer Beyoncé Knowles re-released her 2008 cover of the song, the proceeds of which will go to charity.[18] Knowles performed the song on Piers Morgan Tonight on May 5, 2011.[19][20] After the performance, her version was released as a single to the iTunes Store.[21][22] 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 ..."[23] 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.[19] Ronald Mitchell of Newsday commented that "It does our hearts good to see Beyonce work her magic for the greater good."[24] 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."[25] 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."[26]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Stephanie Pendergrass (March 13, 2013). "Lee Greenwood Reflects on "God Bless the U.S.A."". CMT.
  2. ^ Rocha, Veronica; Wagner, Meg; Hammond, Elise; Hayes, Mike (4 July 2019). "Trump's July 4th celebration: Live updates". CNN. Then, the military band played a formal rendition Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to Be an American” – one of the President’s favorites
  3. ^ Tures, John A. (3 July 2019). "And I'm proud to be an American | Opinion". pennlive.com. The beginning of Lee Greenwood’s classic “Proud to be an American” focuses on being proud to be here in America
  4. ^ Fredericks, Bob (14 June 2019). "White House tweets photo of Trump hugging Old Glory for Flag Day". New York Post. as the song, “Proud to be an American” by Lee Greenwood played for the cheering crowd
  5. ^ "American song gets new twist". Austin American-Statesman. Austin, TX. April 21, 1989. p. A18. Retrieved July 3, 2013.
  6. ^ Matt Bjorke (July 13, 2015). "The Top 30 Digital Country Singles: July 13, 2015". Roughstock.
  7. ^ a b Campbell, Ramsey (May 23, 1993). "Lake Woman Co-Authors Story Behind "God Bless the U.S.A."". Retrieved July 14, 2010.
  8. ^ a b Gallagher, Pat (May 28, 2010). "Lee Greenwood 'God Bless the U.S.A.' Story behind the lyrics". The Boot. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  9. ^ "God Bless The U.S.A. Lyrics".
  10. ^ a b "Lee Greenwood Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  11. ^ "Lee Greenwood Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  12. ^ "Lee Greenwood Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  13. ^ Bjorke, Matt (July 18, 2019). "Top 30 Digital Country Tracks: July 15, 2019". Roughstock. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  14. ^ "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. 
  15. ^ "Sale Of 'American Idol' Finalist CDs Raises $185,000". Archived from the original on 2010-11-21. Retrieved 2010-10-01.
  16. ^ a b Fred Bronson (March 5, 2013). "Top 100 'American Idol' Hits of All Time". Billboard. Retrieved March 6, 2013.
  17. ^ "American single certifications – American Idol finalist – God Bless the U.S.A." Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  18. ^ "Beyonce Knowles – Beyonce Releasing Patriotic Charity Single". Contactmusic.com. May 5, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  19. ^ a b Martin, Dan (May 6, 2011). "Beyonce debuts charity single God Bless the U.S.A." The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  20. ^ Perpetua, Matthew (May 5, 2011). "Beyoncé to Debut Song on 'Piers Morgan Tonight'". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved April 29, 2012.
  21. ^ Lipshutz, Jason (May 6, 2011). "Beyonce Releases 'God Bless the U.S.A.' for Charity: Listen". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  22. ^ "God Bless the U.S.A. -Single by Beyoncé". iTunes Store. Apple Inc. Archived from the original on May 9, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  23. ^ Vena, Jocelyn (May 6, 2011). "Beyonce Releases 'God Bless The U.S.A.' For Charity". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  24. ^ Mitchell, Ronald (May 6, 2011). "Follow Friday: Celebs to follow on Twitter this week". Newsday. Retrieved April 29, 2012.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ "Beyonce – God Bless The U.S.A. Lyrics". Elyricsworld.com. Retrieved 2014-02-08.

Further readingEdit

  • 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.

External linksEdit