Singer and songwriter Lee Greenwood has just given a new interview discussing the success of his beloved song “God Bless The U.S.A.” The 77 year-old entertainer has also revealed the secret to his 27 year marriage to former Miss Tennessee Kimberly Payne, who he has been married to since 1992.
Greenwood has had an incredibly successful career in the music world, scoring 30 songs on Billboard’s country singles chart, including 20 in the Top 10 and seven No. 1 hits, but he is best known by far for his song “God Bless The U.S.A.,” which was originally released in 1984.
“I hadn’t traveled much until I left home at 16 and went to Nevada,” Greenwood told Closer Weekly of what inspired him to write the song. “I was exposed to so many different people from all over the world. After I moved to Nashville in 1979, I wanted to write a song that identified my entire country with who I was. The first line, ‘If tomorrow all the things were gone I worked for all my life,’ was about my grandparents and their farm, where I was raised in Sacramento, Calif.”
“We were sharecroppers,” he continued. “Farming got to be less profitable, and as I left home they were moving from farming to renting apartments. And not to forget the military, of course, because my father served in the Navy in World War II and survived it.”
Greenwood went on to say that the reactions to “God Bless The U.S.A.” have always inspired him more than the actual song itself ever did.
“You can’t help but be moved by a soldier that’s lost two legs, who told you the reason they joined the Army was that they heard my song, or singing it off an aircraft carrier for so many in the military,” he explained. “Then you do a July 4 show where the citizens are waving flags and lights as you sing a tribute to the country.”
One of the biggest blessings that the song has given Greenwood is the opportunity to perform at various presidential events and inaugurations:
“I sang at the Lincoln Memorial for George Bush and Donald Trump, and at parties at several others. When the Reagan Library opened [in 1988], sitting behind me while I was singing were Nixon, Carter, Ford, Bush, Reagan, their wives and Lady Bird Johnson. And recently at a Texas A&M event that raised money for hurricane relief, I sang for Obama, Clinton, Carter, Bush [Sr.] and Bush… In 1988, we did our fifth or sixth USO Tour with Bob Hope — eight shows around the world in eight days. That was tremendous.”
Greenwood also opened up about his marriage to his beloved wife Payne, 52.
“My wife and I share a wonderful life, and I couldn’t ask for more,” he said, adding that the secret to their long-lasting union is ditching Tinseltown.
“One of the key things is getting out of Tinseltown — we live in Tennessee,” he said. “And our creativity about love and passion for our life is what keeps us so solidly together. We shared all of the ups and downs of raising boys. Now we’re empty nesters and reach out for things to do to keep our love alive. There’s no limit on things that my wife likes to do, and I love that.”
Greenwood is staying as busy as ever these days, saying that he is “just about finished” recording a new album. Though he is 77 years-old, he has no intention of slowing down anytime soon.
“Prior to meeting my great manager of 33 years, I wasn’t intent on watching the business, so that’s a regret,” he said. “But I like to do something every day that helps someone. I’m 77 and I’ll perform as long as I can because I think it’s necessary to have people be uplifted, and that’s what music does.”
This piece originally appeared in UpliftingToday.com and is used by permission.
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