Lee Greenwood is as patriotic today as when he first released his classic America-loving tune “God Bless the U.S.A.” in 1984 on the album “You’ve Got a Good Love Comin’.”
At 76, Greenwood is still performing that song and other hits around the country to adoring fans.
“God Bless the U.S.A.” has become especially popular over the years — and for many, it’s an unofficial second anthem for the United States.
Throughout his career, he’s released more than 20 major-label albums and has charted more than 35 singles on the Billboard country music charts.
“I thank my lucky stars to be living here today ’cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can’t take that away,” Greenwood’s powerful lyrics state.
LifeZette recently caught up with the Grammy-winning musician near Nashville, Tennessee, where he lives with his wife, Kimberly, to discuss how his patriotism has evolved over the years — and whether it’s still as strong in these often divided times.
“Oh, absolutely,” Greenwood replied without hesitation when asked if he’s still “proud to be an American,” as his song exclaimed all those years ago.
He added that it’s his unique background that provides such a strong foundation for his patriotism.
“I grew on a farm in California and I didn’t have much, but I didn’t want much. I didn’t need much,” Greenwood recalled. “My grandparents were my guardians. My mother and father were divorced when I was a year old, so I was raised on a farm kind of away from both of them.”
“I grew on a farm in California and I didn’t have much, but I didn’t want much. I didn’t need much.”
The singer said he did not meet his father until he was a teenager — and that was when he discovered the man was in the Navy.
After leaving the service right before the Pearl Harbor bombings, his father joined the Merchant Marines. This caused a distance between Greenwood’s mother, who was a piano player and operator of a comptometer — an early calculator — and his father.
Despite these struggles between his parents and his own distance with them, none of it deterred him, he said, from living in a home with strong values.
“I was raised with love. My grandparents — they taught me that part of life. It’s a good part of life, to tell you the truth. I wish my [two] sons now had grown up on the farm like I did. You kind of get animal husbandry. And you know how to associate plants and trees and things and it’s pretty cool. So maybe somewhere in the roots of my life, that’s where the pride was instilled.”
Greenwood added, “The fact that you overcome whatever adversity is there — maybe that kind of leads to the lines of my song [‘God Bless the U.S.A.’], which is, ‘If tomorrow all the things were gone I’d worked for all my life,’ because I’ve been working since I was 12 years old. And there’s been some ups and downs, but none of that has affected how I feel as a man and as an American. So, yeah, I’m still proud.”
Greenwood said he still sees Americans as a proud people even in severely divided times.
“I perform 150 days [a year] across this country all the time. I don’t care if it’s New York or Los Angeles, [the] points I mention in my song are just everywhere … It’s not just the rural areas. It’s the [people in] cities as well who are very prideful and love a chance to excel. I mean, that’s the thing we offer the most, isn’t it? When people strive to come into our country and are not striving to get out, it’s because we have the offer of freedom,” says Greenwood.
The “Dixie Road” singer said he meets people constantly who remind him of the things that are so special about this country.
“I talked to somebody the other day. He was a limo driver in New York, and he was from South Africa and he said, ‘I love the chance of being here. It’s because I am now going to own my own car.’ Something that simple!” said Greenwood with a smile.
“When people strive to come into our country and are not striving to get out, it’s because we have the offer of freedom.”
He added that even though we may see something like a “60-40” split in terms of people taking pride in America today, there are certain things that unite people across the aisles — whether those gaps are political or social.
“Of course, when you lose a family member, a soldier somewhere, or a soldier comes home, we gather around that person. There is no dissension among Americans about that. We honor those who have been wounded and those whom we’ve lost,” Greenwood said.
For the latest news about Lee Greenwood, check out his website here.
And for an exclusive video from LifeZette in which Greenwood talks more about his pride in our country and his growing-up years, check this out: