Lee Greenwood: "Keep Your Hands Off Our Guns," But Use Them Responsibly
Nearly 30 years ago, in 1984, Lee Greenwood released a song that would go on to become one of the most recognizable patriotic anthems ever: "God Bless the U.S.A."
Lee Greenwood has since been known as the Patriot, and his pride runs deep. He has never slowed down as a recording artist, and continues to fill his life with new music and projects while simultaneously spending time with his wife and two sons. He has sung proudly about the American dream, and feels very blessed to be able to live it.
On Saturday night, Greenwood will perform at Comerica Theatre for a show aptly titled "Hands Off Our Guns." Up on the Sun spoke with Lee Greenwood to get his opinions on America, talk about his new music, and learn about a day in the life of the Patriot.
"God Bless the U.S.A." has helped people through some tough times. How did your career change from that song? What are your thoughts on it today?
I guess it has changed some, inasmuch as I'm kind of known as the Patriot now. I accept that and try to live it. I am proud to be an American.
I still try to write music all the time. [But] when I look at my overall career, you can't ignore the elephant in the room and that is "God Bless the U.S.A." It is a huge umbrella for my career, but it is not a parachute. I don't rely on it for what I do. I continue to pursue music as an art and as my artistic outlet.
My career did change, though. When I released that song, it was powerful, and it only got stronger as the years went by. That's through the influx of events such as Hurricane Katrina and the attack on America in 2001. With my USO tours and campaigns, it has gotten to be the closer of the show -- not just my show, but the closer of any show. When I was asked to appear with other artists, I generally became the closing act regardless of the size of any of the other acts, because they wanted "God Bless the U.S.A." as the closer of the show.
You recently had a spotlight exhibit open at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
I was there at the opening, and we still go every week. I have guests come into town and I make an appearance there. It's a press event. It's called the Spotlight Exhibit of the American Patriot. It was opened May 10, which is the same day I released "God Bless the U.S.A." 29 years ago. So for the next year it's the 30th anniversary.
And an EP titled I Want to be in Your World.
I'm excited about it. There is a four song selection by various artists, including Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald called "You Can Let Go Now". My favorite is probably "Here Comes Love, There Goes My Heart". The title song I wrote last year. We only put seven songs on there because after years with MCA when we were required to have ten songs on every album and turn out two albums a year--it was a waste of music and a lot of people never heard it. I could only release one or two off of the album. It's a little disappointing when you have so much music that goes through you and radio doesn't play them.
What projects are you currently working on?
I have a new pop standard album that we are finishing. I have a rhythm and blues project coming up with some guest artists in Nashville. I have my hands in all of that, plus my touring schedule.
You do stay busy.
Yes, and I have reason to stay busy. I have a ninth-grade son named Parker who is at a private academy, and his brother graduated from the same academy valedictorian last year and is now a freshman in college. My wife is a full time business woman and a former Miss Tennessee--and is still hot and sexy by the way. We've been married for 21 years. She is the director of Tennessee Georgia and the Pacific pageants for Miss U.S.A. We have a juggling schedule, but I have my time in my office every day and in my music room.
How has your book, Does God Still Bless the U.S.A.? been received since its release?
Really well. It's an echo of the song, and that's the best way I can put it. It's a little bit of a play on the title, but I think the proverbial question on everybody's mind in the last decade has been-- are we still the same nation we were when we started? As we look toward illegal immigration and toward political correctness. Why is it getting more difficult to say I am proud to be an American?
There are two songs in the book that I wrote for download, and also there is a 30-day prayer calendar in the back that my wife wrote. Is change better? And how much change is better? That's the question. We obviously evolve as a country, and we still have our Constitution and Declaration of Independence. I know that they are being manipulated a little bit, but that's okay as long as it's a majority choice. Does the majority still speak for America?