"God Bless The U.S.A"

QuestionForLiving interview with Lee Greenwood, October 14, 2011. This interview focuses on writing and performing music including his song "God Bless The U.S.A".

QuestionsForLiving: Are there any questions that you would suggest that a new or emerging songwriter ask themselves to be successful as a song writer and performer.

Lee Greenwood: There are several facets to entertainment. Writing is a behind the scenes talent that rarely gets acknowledged, only by mailbox money. A performer is a special kind of entertainer that knows how to please the public. An artist is someone who has the artistic ability to deliver material that either they write or somebody else writes, complemented by the music and they may, or may not, be a musician. Somebody who is a musician, an artist, an entertainer, and a writer brings to the stage something very special.

If there was a question for them to ask themselves it is: “What do I want to do?” or “What do I want to make out of life? Am I driven by my need for economics, or am I driven by the need to satisfy my artistic inner self?” Any other question would basically be driven just by need.  When somebody is successful, it's a combination of opportunity and talent that comes together at the same time - and it is a timing thing. I know a lot of very talented people who are driven by the same motivation, but they miss their time and their working places that satisfy them, but they don't make a lot of money at it. So those who are economically successful and who you admire for their talent are very rare.

QFL: What, if any, questions were you asking yourself that contributed to the creation, and lyrics, of "God Bless the USA"?

Greenwood: God Bless the USA was a song I wrote out of passion, because as a young boy, my father served in World War II right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and my mother and father were divorced, so she was raising two young kids, I just felt abandoned. As I was growing up and my musical talent emerged at about 10, 11 and 12, I had this need to construct family and after three failed marriages, which were all attempts, I believe, to find family, I never lost the vision nor the need to write a song that would unite the country. To me, that was my family - the United States of America. So writing God Bless USA was a personal passion, and I just never lost desire or need to do it. I didn't know at the time I would finally be blessed with the love I had been longing for all my life. My fantastic wife Kim & I have been married 19 years now & we have 2 wonderful sons, Dalton & Parker. They are my family & give me the love that supports me now. 

QFL: Are there questions that you ask yourself when writing music?

Greenwood: It's not a question-and-answer thing that goes on. Basically, if I feel like writing a song, I'm inspired by my environment, by my family, by the people who I work with, and my need and ability to satisfy my soul; so when the need arises, basically just jump in and do it.

QFL: What are the questions that you have asked overtime that have fueled or driven your interest in writing and performing music?

Greenwood: I started fairly young playing a variety of instruments and different kinds of music anywhere from English Baroque,  to Sam Kenton, to the Dorseys, to Early Rock ‘n Roll through the Beatle era. I always wanted to create something that I could sell as well as enjoy. Lots of times people lose the artistry because they get involved in marketing. Marketing is what makes your money and so you need to be somewhere in the middle because you need to make a living, and you want to do well, but you never want to lose your focus on being artistic. There’s a little bit of the paradox that you go through but to continue to be artistic is in your heart and soul, and you have to be driven by it.

QFL: Are there any questions that you asked yourself overtime that have contributed to your success as a song writer and performer?

Greenwood: I rarely ask myself questions about my direction. I basically react to inspiration; I act when I'm inspired and motivated. There is a movie called Shakespeare In Love, and the writer Shakespeare refers to himself as having a muse, and his muse is his inspiration. As far as I'm concerned, my wife is my inspiration, my beautiful bride Kim. We have been married 19 years and she motivates me; she supports me, and she is my muse. When I found her, I found inspiration to continue to be artistic, not that I wasn't before, but as people get successful their need to become inspired gets less and less. So it's great to have a great woman and who stands beside you and gives you inspiration.

QFL: Independent of the music or work environment, what questions do you believe that people should/could ask themselves to make our world a happier and healthier place?

Greenwood: I think we all have a need to be contributing to the safety of our planet and the pursuit of peace. The conflict between governments on this planet and countries who are striving to have this wonderful free world that the United States of America has, brings us to war. I think each one of us should ask ourselves quote “Are we contributing to peace, or are we contributing to conflict?" And of course, to be environmentally conscience “Are we taking care of our earth?” That's an individual responsibility. We ask ourselves, “Are we doing the best we can for our environment, and at the same time living the lifestyle we choose?”

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