Last week, country music hitmaker Lee Greenwood found himself in the midst of starring in a new viral video as he joined forces with a capella group Home Free and the United States Air Force Band to record a new version of his hit tune “God Bless the USA.”
“It’s pretty awesome, isn’t it?” Greenwood said with a laugh.
According to Greenwood, he knew he wouldn’t be able to perform a July 4 show, but still wanted to find a way to get his music to the people.
“I’ve known Home Free for a number of years, and I knew they sang ‘God Bless the USA’ in their live show, and because we knew we wouldn’t be performing anywhere on July 4 this year, and even though it was difficult to get together, we decided to do a virtual recording,” he said. “Two were in Los Angeles, one was in New York, and three of us were here in Nashville. It was really cool to be able to sit back and listen to what was going down, then adding my part. My producer Jerry Crutchfield and I have always had the belief when you go into the studio, the less acoustic instruments you have, the best chance you have at delivering a great vocal.
“So there’s no drums, no guitars, no keyboards. Just the A capella singers, and it was very clear in my head what I needed to do for my part.”
Once the United States Air Force Band added their vocals, the tune was mixed and released. It quickly began racking up hits all over the world wide web, now approaching 10 million views.
This isn’t the first time Greenwood has had success with “God Bless the USA,” but he didn’t expect it would hit the big time again.
“‘God Bless the U.S.A.” is the song I always felt the need to write,” Greenwood told the Branson Tri-Lakes News.
“I wanted to have something that would unite Americans from coast to coast.”
I wanted to instill pride back in the U.S. The song represents my family, my community and those men and women who have paid the price for the freedoms we all love and enjoy.”
“God Bless the USA” hit No. 7 upon its initial release in 1984, and also won him the Country Music Association Song of the Year honor as the writer. The song then hit the Top 5 on the country singles charts three more times, in 1991, 2001 and 2003. It is the only song in any genre of music to achieve that feat. It was also No. 1 on the pop charts after 9-11.
“I didn’t think there could ever be a different version of it, but there you go,” he said with a laugh.
The latest version is now a viral sensation.
“There’s over 7 million views (as of July 2), and it sort of spread out organically because of the holiday,” he said. “And it pleases me because I’d want it to reach the whole nation, if we could, just to give us a little hope we could get out of this pandemic.
“I’m not a scientist, I’m a musician and a singer, and I’m just hoping for the best.”
Greenwood, who also scored hit tunes with “Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands,” “It Turns Me Inside Out,” “Somebody’s Gonna Love You,” “I Don’t Mind the Thorns (If You’re the Rose),” “She’s Lyin’” and “Dixie Road,” is set to return to Branson’s Welk Resort Theatre Oct. 3, along with T.G. Sheppard.
“We were planning for the ‘Super Hits Tour,’ where we reach back and grab a lot of songs from the first 10 albums and present them in a fashion where they’re be more recognizable for those fans who have been there a long time,” he said. “There will be some adjustment for that now ... and we’ll have several shows before Branson, so we can hone that and get it back where it needs to be.”
T.G. Sheppard is the man responsible for “Last Cheater’s Waltz,” “Do You Want to Go to Heaven,” “I Loved ‘Em Every One,” “I Feel Like Loving You Again” and “Only One You.”
As far as what folks can expect from the October date at the Welk, Greenwood said it will most assuredly be a patriotic affair.
“I recognize how important our music is to the fans that love us, and we have a myriad of fans across the country, as evident by the millions of views for ‘God Bless the USA,’” he said. “People are reverent enough about the country, and they realize I’m a leader in patriotism, and they want to see me. They want to see me talk about this country, and how valuable it is.
“So if you come and see us, we’ll give you a good dose of America.”