It"s been nearly 40 years due to the fact that Lee Greenwood wrote his signature "God Bless The U.S.A." — a patriotic anthem educated by his veteran father, his experiences traveling across the nation in a tour bus, and also one that Elvis Presley"s late-period classics, amongst a lifetime of other experiences.

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In a conversation with Bart Herbison of Nashville Songwriters association International, Greenwood traced the four-decade route to "God Bless," and the trip the song has actually taken in the decades since.

Bart Herbison: There’s a tiny handful of songs that ns characterize together perfect songs, Lee. Take us earlier to the day. What motivated you because that this? You understand it may be one of the most recognizable songs, globally, ever before written.

Lee Greenwood: ns was raised on a farm yard in Sacramento, California. My parents were divorced as soon as I was a year old, so mine grandparents to be my guardians. My dad joined the marine after the battle of Pearl harbor in 1941, so you deserve to see ns was born around a year later. Mine mom had actually to work-related several work in stimulate to support me and also my sister, therefore she really couldn’t purchased to have childcare if she was functioning so that’s why ns was increased by mine grandparents, Thomas and Edna Jackson, who I love dearly. 


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I had farm chores, I had actually music. My mom was a piano player in the ‘40s. We had a tiny Spinet piano in the edge of our trailer. I was enabled to play every night if I wanted to and also it was simply something I might not tear myself far from. Ns listened to every kinds that music growing up. Ns played for The American Legion, The VFW, and also marching in parades. Ns was immersed in every kinds the music. I learned much more than the piano while I was in junior high and high school, and by the time I graduated in 1960, ns had developed my very own band and also left because that Nevada. Throughout those early on years – due to the fact that I was the drum major in the high school marching tape – ns really took pleasure in the marches the Sousa and many the the other composers and leading my very own band in The nationwide Anthem. Then (I was) functioning for the USO once I to be 15 and also 16 at McClellan and significant Air pressure bases in Sacramento…I got a good taste that the military and also their sacrifice. 


…I spent twenty years in Nevada creating music, play for revues of every kinds, also dealing cards in the casinos whereby I learned the psychology of world under pressure, gambling, and drinking at the same time…So, there to be a many input at the time, and there was something inside me the said, “Someday I’d favor to write a song like (‘An American Trilogy’) that Elvis sings.” we were functioning in the exact same hotel number of times and also I listened come the song. It to be inspiring. Of course, ns learned a the majority of the (patriotic) songs as soon as I was finding out my music in high school. I simply said, “If I ever get come Nashville, and I think that’s most likely where ns will end up because L.A. Chewed me up and also spit me out, I’ll compose a song kind of favor the trilogy.” 

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About the series

In partnership through Nashville Songwriters combination International, the "Story Behind the Song" video interview collection features Nashville-connected songwriters pointing out one of your compositions. For full video interviews with all of our subjects, visit www.priziv.org/music.


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