In an interview with legendary musician Lee Greenwood, Benny Johnson of Benny Media asked the creator of “God Bless The USA” how he would react if his song were played at an event by President Joe Biden. Compared with how Greenwood responded to it’s use by former President Donald Trump, his answer reflected how most Americans would likely respond.
Prior to asking about Biden, Johnson asked Greenwood first about how he felt when Trump began using the song at his rallies. Greenwood answered, “When we sang this song live 2 or 3 times introducing the president which was indeed a privilege for me—and he always waits until I finish the entire song before walking up to me, shaking hands and I exit the stage. It’s such great respect and I have such a great honor to have done that for the president.”
While Greenwood told Johnson that Trump never explicitly asked permission to play the song at all of his rallies, he did say that the former President later called him and thanked him for it.
But turning to the what-if scenario of Biden using his music Greenwood told Johnson that his reaction would be, “Suspect.”
He added, “I would be a little curious of why he would do that, because it wouldn’t help him a bit.”
Asked if he thought Biden was proud to be an American Greenwood was direct, saying bluntly “No, no I don’t.”
Greenwood likely remembers well that it was Biden who removed the country music singer and songwriter from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2021. He had been appointed to the Endowment in 2008 by President George W. Bush and reappointed in six-year terms by both Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
The two also had some good-natured laughs about Trump’s legendary dance moves.
.@TheLeeGreenwood talks about Donald Trump using 'Proud to be an American' at his rallies:
"When we sang this song live 2 or 3 times introducing the president—and he always waits until I finish the entire song before walking up to me, shaking hands and I exit the stage. It's… pic.twitter.com/IyaUL5O6om
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) November 10, 2023
Greenwood told Fox and Friends, “You know, it’s a six-year appointment and I was appointed by George W. Bush 43. So I served under his term. Also, President Obama’s term. Of course, President Trump’s term.”
“And then as you know he used my song “God Bless the USA,’ which is unilateral for me,” Greenwood said according to the Alabama Political Reporter.
“It’s meant for all people, not just for a particular political party.”
“So hearing now under the Biden administration and he’s cleaned house and finally he’s fired a patriot. I was quite shocked to tell you the truth,” Greenwood added. “I didn’t get a phone call or letter. It was just an email.”
Greenwood released “God Bless the USA” in 1984, it was played at the Republican National Convention that same year.
The song gained renewed prominence during Desert Storm in 1991 but took on a far more national, and cultural significance following September 11th. It came to be regarded by many as a secondary American anthem, not quite to the official and historical level of the Star Spangled Banner, but easily alongside America the Beautiful or My Country ‘Tis of Thee.