July 5, 2017

A late-arriving comment on that post on the song "God Bless the U.S.A."

My post — a line-by-line inquiry into the text — went up 3 days ago, and this comment, from Nashveganite, went up just now:
First, let it be known that I am of a mind with the likes of Mark Steyn, Tucker Carlson, Glenn Reynolds and most of his contributors at Instapundit, as well as Breitbart and Milton Friedman. In short, I am what they now call an arch-conservative. So I do not find patriotism or patriotic sentiment hard to bear; believe me, I'm all in.

Problem is Lee Greenwood and his song. As a bona fide failed songwriter living in Nashville for over 30 years, I can tell you that God Bless the USA is widely reviled, both for its construction, the timing of its release, and its author. It is a horrible, terrible, amateurish song about on the level of If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me (Bellamy Bros. from about the same era). Putting aside for a minute the fact that Lee Greenwood is the very epitome of an oily Vegas lounge singer (which is what he was), the song itself is an embarrassment, chock-full-o' patriotic phrases poorly strung together, poor rhymes you can see the writer stretching for from a mile away, and bad grammar (not on purpose). There is no build up in either the melody or the lyrics.

As someone who actually cries when reading the Gettysburg Address and who loves quality songs from He Stopped Loving Her Today, to Georgia on My Mind, to Yesterday, to I Just Wanna Be Sedated, I cringe whenever God Bless the USA comes on. It is so transparently a piece of merch and so poorly constructed at that, it just makes my teeth hurt.

I'll stick with God Bless America.
It's "I Wanna Be Sedated," not "I Just Wanna Be Sedated," but I'd like to think Nashveganite was making a sly, subtle reference to the "at least I know I'm free" in "God Bless the U.S.A." The Ramones did not say they wanted nothing more than to be sedated. They wanted other things too. They wanted to be taken to the airport and put on a plane, for example. Lee Greenwood, on the other hand, expressed love for the country based on a single factor: knowledge of freedom.

While I'm at it, let me say that I've been thinking a lot about the phrase "God bless..." — not only in patriotic songs but in person-to-person interactions, post-sneezing and otherwise. It seems religiously wrong. Quite aside from dragging God into the mundane and the political, is it telling God what to do? I think the linguistic explanation is that it's a shortened form of "May God bless [you/America]" and merely expresses a hope.

There's strong Biblical support for "God bless you," and we may learn something from studying the classic form in the Old Testament: "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." What about the New Testament? Did Jesus tell us to say "God bless you"? Interestingly enough, Jesus said: "Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you." Perhaps American Christians should be singing "God bless North Korea."

To me, it seems more religiously correct not to ask for future blessings but to thank God for the blessings that you have. Here, again, we see the superiority of form of expression in the lyrics of The Ramones: "I have been blessed with the power to survive. After all these years I'm still alive."

98 comments:

Laslo Spatula said...

""I have been blessed with the power to survive. After all these years I'm still alive."

Applicable until 2014.

)From the Google: By 2014, all four of the band's original members, lead singer Joey Ramone (1951–2001), bass guitarist Dee Dee Ramone (1951–2002), lead guitarist Johnny Ramone (1948–2004) and drummer Tommy Ramone (1949–2014), had died.)

All survivors die, eventually.

I am Laslo.

chickelit said...

Althouse wrote: aside from dragging God into the mundane and the political, is it telling God what to do? I think the linguistic explanation is that it's a shortened form of "May God bless [you/America]" and merely expresses a hope.

You are bothered by the switch from the subjunctive to the imperative. You're more in the mood for the indicative.

AllenS said...

Saying "God bless...", isn't anymore religious, than someone saying "Have a safe trip", acting like a travel agent.

MikeR said...

"To me, it seems more religious correct not to ask for future blessings". Prayer is not religiously correct? There are theological questions on how or why we pray, but they tend to be from the point of view that we know we pray, we're trying to understand it.
Weird comment.

David Begley said...

Lee Greenwood may be a rotten guy and Nashville may hate the song but Mr. Market loves it.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Telling God what to do is commonplace in religion. The Lord's Prayer includes a whole string of imperatives.

Daniel Jackson said...

My understanding of the traditional form of "Blessing" is that in the form, "May The Lord Bless you," the speaker is making a PRAYER requesting aforesaid blessings. The idea of commanding The Deity to do anything on behalf of the person is magic; a big no-no in traditional texts.

Other blessings come after the fact, where the person is expressing thanks for even mundane things where the purpose is to call to mind "blessings" for things we take for granted (like being in a country blessed with Freedom). Clearly the idea is to be mindful for all the small things that make life and consciousness possible.

Bless the Lord for the Goodness that has come to me.

chickelit said...

On third-person imperatives in the Lord's Prayer

TerriW said...

Proverbs 25:21-22 is one of my very favorites:

21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the Lord will reward you.


I mean, you get told to love your enemy and pray for them all over the place in the Bible, but here in Proverbs, the pot gets sweetened.

Rick Turley said...

Nashveganite is exhibit A on why when we fled from Chicago to Tennessee we purposefully avoided buying a home in Davidson County (Nashville) and bought instead in Williamson County, where by the way Lee Greenwood also lives.

Rick Turley said...

Oh, and bless his heart!

Gahrie said...

Yeah, Yeah..the elites hate the song, and the deplorables love it. What's new?

Dave from Minnesota said...

Every street begger has a sign that says:

Either "Homeless Vet" or "Single parent"

But always ends with "God Bless"

Chuck said...

Yep; I never thought too much of "God Bless the USA," but that one line, "I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free," is the standout clunker. I am so happy for Althouse to have blogged this.

One thing I did not say in the previous thread; I think that Lee Greenwood in particular has benefitted greatly, from the era in which social media invites and/or demands that all recording artists declare their party affiliation. And because there are so few willing to declare as Republicans, Lee Greenwood gets all the prime invites.

Bay Area Guy said...

Overthinking by our friend in Nashvillle.

Lee Greenwood is relatively famous for 1 song he did 30+ years ago. Offhand, I can't think of any other songs he's done.

The song is a paean to the USA, to be used sparingly: on the 4th of July, when we win go to war, some GOP conventions.

It's kinda like "Happy Birthday".

It serves a small purpose, nothing more. Not a big deal.

AllenS said...

Here's some real religion --

"God damn America." -- The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's pastor for the last 20 years at the Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's south side.

Kate said...

Matthew 16:19 Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. The Lord has told us there's no harm in trying to make it so.

Michael K said...

"Nashveganite is exhibit A on why when we fled from Chicago"

I think he is a chuck sock puppet.

Compare the two comments.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

MikeR, there's a great C.S. Lewis essay on petitionary prayer that I have here somewhere. Can't ;ay my hands on it right now, as I have to go out in a few minutes, but it's definitely worth reading.

Wilbur said...

Well, I'm with the commenter. The song and production are mawkish dreck and the singer is third-rate (I AM familiar with much of his other work).

I hated it the first time I heard it and nothing has happened to change my opinion.

But if you like it, then my opinion matters not a whit. Enjoy it.

The Godfather said...

"To me, it seems more religious correct not to ask for future blessings but to thank God for the blessings that you have." If you're seriously interested in prayer you should by now have read C.S. Lewis on the subject; "Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer" is a good start -- available on Amazon through the Althouse portal.

Dave from Minnesota said...

I've never listened to old country much (except real old.....Hank Sr, Ernest Tubb, etc) but for a change have been dropping in on Delta Country from Greenville Mississippi. Some observations:

When I was little...Merle Haggard and George Jones were old. But I am surprised at the amount of tunes they have out there that aren't bad.
Love the "Fightin' Side of Me"

Didn't realize how much today's country music has changed since the 90s.

Related to the Bellemy Brothers mentioned in the post....yes, there is some really bad country music from....must be early 80s.

Anonymous said...

I read the Orphan Master's Son a few years ago and now pray for North Korea and its leaders nightly. I pray for God to bless its leaders and people with wisdom and a desire for justice. I pray for peace between our counties. I pray for the leaders to turn from evil and turn toward Jesus. My evangelical church prays for our enemies weekly from the pulpit. -- Jessica

Gahrie said...

Chuck attacking somebody on he right...who'd of thought?

Bob Ellison said...

Sour grapes.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I just looked him up on the internet, and it appears that Lee Greenwood is a real person and not the character that Henry Gibson played in the movie Nashville.

PDM said...

Nashveganite is spot-on. As a new Ensign in the Navy just commissioned and stationed on temporary duty in Nashville before my first ship assignment in 1985, I was tasked with helping develop a recruiting videotape for the NROTC Unit from which i had just graduated. One of the Ensigns insisted that the background music be that song, and it was. I cringed every time we played the reel, and I still cringe when I hear it now. I grew up hearing patriotic songs sung by my mother and love most of them. But not that tripe.

Steve said...

There is a strong inverse correlation between musical quality and political sanity.

The Clash were the best band of all time. Their album Sandinista has all the political savvy of a 13 yer old Chinese boy waving a Little Red Book.

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

Can a man or a woman choose to bless you? Yes, they can. Christmas, birthdays and baby showers, and wedding gifts are institutional willed blessings made upon others.

In Scripture, to bless someone means to cause them to multiply and increase. Ask Abraham what a blessing from God means. And ALL he had to do was believe God to receive it; which has always been a hang up among proud men. They want to earn it.

Accepting blessing from God as a free gift eliminates a man's will, and a man's plans, and a man's wisdom to work hard for good things...God just ruins everything with unearned Grace.

Kevin said...

The Clash were the best band of all time.

Well, they did want you to Know Your Rights.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Many years ago I read some review of some record by the Ramones and the writer said that most of their songs boil down to some form of "I wannna" or "I don't wanna."

I don't know whether that was true or not but I thought it was pretty funny.

great Unknown said...

If you're looking for "...phrases poorly strung together" you need go no farther than Rose Garden by Joe South, which has done rather well for itself, especially in the Lynn Anderson version.

Indeed, I recall studying for grad-school finals to that song at 1 am - when it finished, all I had to do was change channels and I would be sure to find it again within a few minutes.

Kevin said...

I'm patriotic, but I find all patriotic songs a bit off, not just this one. And I think it's because most music is personal. You don't care how it moves others, as long as it moves you.

With patriotic songs there is always a sense of collectivism. Greenwood is not singing about his individual feelings or ideas, but a set of shared feelings and ideals in which he is affirming his willful participation. In that sense, it's no creepier than Yankee Doodle Dandy or the Star Spangled Banner.

And maybe that's why Jimi Hendrix's version of the national anthem feels so unique. It was his personal artistic interpretation - his unique emotions and feelings - and it was so far off the typical that it could no longer be part of a communal refrain from the crowd.

The national anthem played in a way those present could not affirm their unity by singing along? Blasphemy.

Michael K said...

The national anthem played in a way those present could not affirm their unity by singing along? Blasphemy.

Not necessarily.

Robert Cook said...

"The Clash were the best band of all time."

Not by a long shot.

mockturtle said...

Tradguy at 9:15: Well said.

Static Ping said...

Music exists to entertain, to stir emotions, to tell a story. If it works positively on any level for an audience, it is successful. That the song has an insipid melody with poorly constructed lyrics and a weak understanding of the subject matter really is besides the point.

As to Lee Greenwood himself, I don't know much of anything about him. He sings a song that I like. Does this really require me to research his biography? Unlike some other people who choose the music they like based on personal attributes like politics *coughSJWscough*, I choose music based on the music. If I like it, I don't care about the singer, songwriter, or anyone else involved. Anyway, if my music collection filtered out singers with political disagreements, low moral character, and other personal flaws, my collection would probably fit on a double-sided audio tape.

Personally, I like "God Bless the U.S.A." It hits the patriotic emotional button very nicely.

Kevin said...

The national anthem played in a way those present could not affirm their unity by singing along? Blasphemy.

Not necessarily.


I could sing along with that band, but not with Hendrix's rendition. Jimi made it virtually unsingable.

Michael K said...

Personally, I like "God Bless the U.S.A." It hits the patriotic emotional button very nicely.

I prefer his version of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" but agree completely.

Personally, I think Toby Keith's "Red White and Blue" lyrics are a little over the top. but that was especially when Obama was retreating all over the world.

I think Trump will make them sound better,

Fernandinande said...

It seems religiously wrong

That's hilarious.

Tobacco and corn shuck or blackjack oak leaves are passed around the circle of worshippers, each making a cigarette for use during the leader's opening prayer. The next procedure involves purification of the bag of mescal buttons in cedar incense. Following this blessing, the roadman takes four mescal buttons from the bag which is then passed around in a clockwise direction, each worshipper taking four. More Peyote may be called for at any time during the ceremony, the amount consumed being left to personal discretion. Some peyotists eat up to thirty-six buttons a night, and some boast of having ingested upwards of fifty. An average amount is probably twelve.

Singing starts with the roadman, the initial song always being the same, sung or chanted in a high nasal tone. Translated, the song means: "May the gods bless me, help me, and give me power and understanding."

+

Gen-you-wine AMERICAN religion.

Molly said...

Religiously correct?! What on earth is that?

Seems to me it's "religiously correct" to talk to God about anything that's on your mind, without having to worry if someone will judge you on it. God's entitled to judge you on that; not sure anyone else is.

Why not drag God into the trivial, the mundane, the political, the ...?

He's wherever we are (we are told), and we spend most of our time in the trivial and evanescent. Why not thank Him for being there with us?

Harrumph

Darrell said...

As people have said upthread, it's a matter of personal taste. Good thing we have millions of songs to choose from, as the mood strikes. What is better--fried chicken or a hamburger? Depends.

traditionalguy said...

I blame Nashville on the KJV Bible, which is another social faux pas. Why can't educated people use High Latin like The Pontifex Maximus does. Then we can be One Global Empire under an Emperor again.

Make Rome Great Again.

traditionalguy said...

What about Eternal Father Strong to Save. It's good enough for the Navy.

Molly said...

P.S.--The history of our prayers is that of us telling God what to do. We understand that it's totally up to Him whether He agrees.

Rae said...

"Thank God ahead of time," as Solanus Casey said.

David Hampton said...

As a Patriot Guard Rider, one of our Vets inserts the C.D. on his Harley Davidson with Greenwood's "GOD bless the USA" song for us to hold hands and sing in a group. Mostly Viet Nam Vets, Gulf War Veterans and an increasing number from the Afghanistan Vets. The beauty of that song is it's simplicity and inclusiveness for Vets and Patriots who appreciate and respect the U.S.A. we fought for and those who died along side us. Your critical evaluation of the song does not represent our feelings and beliefs. Come stand a flag line on a military tarmac when a charter jet brings the casket of a fallen hero to a stop in front of the family, military, and Vets standing at attention as the flags move with he solemn breeze. Maybe then you can write lyrics respecting the sacrifice of those you seem to dismiss. Good luck and GOD BLESS THE USA!

Joseph W. said...

If "God Bless the USA" is an imperative, think of those impertinent Brits all these centuries, commanding God to "save the King" (or Queen).

Gahrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gahrie said...

This conversation reminds of the fact that today's most innocuous curse word is damn, or damn you when historically this was considered one of the worst and most outrageous , much worse than say fuck you. Fuck you was rude, boorish and low class, but damn you was literally asking God to send you to Hell.

Freeman Hunt said...

In first grade in Oklahoma we had to sing a patriotic song every morning. Every morning we hoped it would be "You're a Grand Old Flag."

"The Battle Hymn of the Republic" is the instant tears patriotic song. It's got everything: love of country, love of God, acknowledgement of past evils, hope, duty, honor, everything.

Seeing Red said...

Hated, reviled, and made oodles of money and sung every year.


It's like the royalties just keep rolling in.

Unknown said...

Shocked that the Wordsmith (AA) would not provide actual definitions when criticizing or commenting in the use of a word.

BLESS
synonyms: endow with, bestow with, furnish with, accord, give, favor with, grace with; More
confer on;
literary endue with
"the gods blessed us with magical voices"
•(especially in Christian Church services) call (God) holy; praise (God).

synonyms: praise, worship, glorify, honor, exalt, pay homage to, venerate, reverence, hallow; archaic - magnify
"bless the name of the Lord"

•(of God or some notional higher power) endow (someone) with a particular cherished thing or attribute.
"God has blessed us with free will"

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

To me, it seems more religiously correct not to ask for future blessings but to . . .

As I noted in the prior discussion, to be "blessed" (or to ask to be blessed), is to be made holy, to be sanctified, to be purified of imperfections and flaws and wrong, and to be made good and right.

This is why one traditionally begins in the confessional: "Bless me Father, for I have sinned . . ."

To be so "blessed" is something we should want from God and should ask of God.

Mark said...

It is rather curious whenever someone who has failed mocks and belittles someone who has succeeded. Greenwood must have done something right and had some skill since he is still out their singing, rather than sitting in front of the computer commenting on some blog and bitching about how the successful guy sucks.

Rick Turley said...

Unknown said...

"Shocked that the Wordsmith (AA) would not provide actual definitions when criticizing or commenting in the use of a word."

There's a Southern definition of the work "bless" to which I've referred above but will not give out in polite company.

Mark said...

Talking great songwriters, singers, musicians, etc. --

Truth be told, God Bless the U.S.A. is a better song than Born in the U.S.A. by mega-superstar Bruce Springsteen.

Mark said...

We should also note that the song was produced in the wake of the Reagan Revolution, after a long period in society and culture (1970s) where the message was "America sucks" and it was considered embarrassing to voice support of the country (or religion).

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I'm trying to think of a song that I like that it would get me offended if someone said it's a crappy song. Nothing comes readily to mind.

Hmmmmm. Maybe it's about time I stop beating myself up for being thin-skinned and insufficiently dismissive.

I think there was an old cartoon where these two guys are getting along like the best of chums until they learn they have strongly opposing opinions on the deliciousness of tripe.

Maybe it's on the internet. I'll have a look.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Yeah. I'm gonna give up on that. Problem is, it's not really a cartoon about tripe. Come to think about it, I'm not quite sure what it's about or why I thought about it or why I even remember it.

Weird.

PeterK said...

"As a bona fide failed songwriter living in Nashville for over 30 years" this says it all sounds like Nashveganite is slightly jealous of the fame and fortune that Greenwood has achieved with this song. Sounds to me like nashveganite wasted 30 yrs of his life trying to write a hit song that would be like a life annuity for him

Dave from Minnesota said...

Truth be told, God Bless the U.S.A. is a better song than Born in the U.S.A. by mega-superstar Bruce Springsteen.

I don't think that song has aged very well. Its very dated. And.....I don't know....it just him screaming to the same banging away throughout the entire tune.

Even though we are political opposites, I enjoy much of Bruce's work. But a tip to The Boss.......it looks a little silly to see 60 year old white multi-millionaires to be singing "we shall overcome". That means you and the audience.

Char Char Binks said...

The Clash WAS far from the best band of all time. FIFY

Rick Turley said...

Lee is so unpopular down here that he has has added a second show at the Franklin Theatre for Saturday!

http://secure.franklintheatre.com/websales/mobile/info.aspx?evtinfo=120796~cfe40b7d-1c56-4c4b-b937-600bdd7c5904&epguid=ff540eef-ac93-4089-a55d-152d385d48b8&

And by the way, for anyone who thinks he is a one hit wonder:

"With seven #1 songs & 25 charted singles his hits include: “It Turns Me Inside Out”, “Ring On Her Finger Time on Her Hands”, ”She’s Lyin”, “I don’t Mind the Thorns if You’re the Rose”, “Dixie Road”, “Somebody’s Gonna Love You”, “Going Going Gone”, “You Got A Good Love Comin”, “Fools Gold”, and “Mornin Ride”. Several cross over hits include, “Touch & Go Crazy”, “IOU” and the duet with Barbara Mandrell, “To Me”. An additional duet with Suzie Boggus, “Hopelessly Yours”, was nominated for a Grammy."

etbass said...

I appreciate that our hostess frequently reverts to the Holy Scripture for authority on spiritual matters and couples this with intelligent thoughtfulness. She is a good bible student.

Larvell said...

I had to stop reading when she said "If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me?" was a horrible song.

Larvell said...

To me, it seems more religiously correct not to ask for future blessings but to thank God for the blessings that you have.

"Give us this day our daily bread ... Lead us not into temptation ... deliver us from evil." Jesus didn't seem to think it was an either/or proposition, but what does he know?

Achilles said...

As a bona fide failed songwriter living in Nashville for over 30 years, I can tell you that God Bless the USA is widely reviled, both for its construction, the timing of its release, and its author.

So do a remake. Clean it up. We will listen to yours instead if it is better.

Sebastian said...

"I cringe whenever God Bless the USA comes on. It is so transparently a piece of merch and so poorly constructed at that, it just makes my teeth hurt." Good to see Nashveganite shares the predicament of the snobbish conservative patriot. Solidarity!

rightguy2 said...


I am a bit of a frustrated songwriter myself ( http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=587673 ) and I love a good well-written song. So Nashveganite's & AA's comments are very well taken. This, of course, is not the first badly written mega hit song- Horse With No Name/ America (which has flagrantly God-awful lyrics) comes quickly to mind.

I did see Lee Greenwood on the 4th of July 25 years ago in Arkansas and I found his performance of GBTUSA very moving. LG struck me as sincere and upbeat, in a born-again sort of way. The poor quality of the lyrics I took as more the inarticulate speech of the heart from a hack songwriter. Songs can be hits that have lousy lyrics, but have a good tune, vocal, or groove. I think Greenwood gave this song a great tune and vocal performance.

Its very hard to write a good patriotic song, because the message is propagandistic and almost always trite. There is a similar problem with love songs and religious songs- its very hard to come up with novel reasons why you love a particular person or Jesus.

This is my idea of a great patriotic song :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7Ztac69HL

I strongly urge you to listen to this song as it is a classic- a great lyric about spirituality and patriotism married to a melody by Gustav Holst. I get goose flesh every time I hear it. It can serve as a late July 4th musical post (yes I know its English)

I Vow to Thee My Country/ lyrics

I vow to thee, my country
All earthly things above
Entire and whole and perfect
The service of my love

The love that asks no questions
The love that stands the test
That lays upon the alter
The dearest and the best

The love that never falters
The love that pays the price
The love that makes undaunted
The final sacrifice

And there's another country
I've heard of long ago
Most dear to them that love her
Most great to them I know

We may not count her armies
We may not see her King
Her fortress is a faithful heart
Her pride is suffering

And soul by soul and silently
Her shining bounds increase
And her ways are ways of gentleness
And all her paths are peace

southcentralpa said...

I remain morbidly fascinated as to what happens when "Drop Kick Me Jesus (Through the Goalposts of Life)" ends up on the Althouse dissection table...

rightguy2 said...

The previous link to I Vow to Me My Country was off by one character. I think this one works better.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7Ztac69HLE

Eric said...

Glenn is a libertarian not a conservative. Same with Uncle Milton. This guy doesn't know what he's talking about.

Ipso Fatso said...

I disagree with Nashveganite regarding Beautiful Body. I sang country in Chicago for about a 10 year period up until recently and at first I was the only one doing that song and then every other band that heard me do it started doing it as well. I think it is a clever song and I am sure made the writer a ton of money. So not only am I deplorable but I have no taste in music as well. Oh well. I was also one of the few that did "How Can I Miss You When You won't Go Away. RIP Dan Hicks.

richlb said...

Am I forced to bless the participants in a gay wedding?

richlb said...

Also, I always seem to get Lee Greenwood and Ray Stevens mixed up.

Tarrou said...

I'm pretty hardcore about my country. I love it. I've been all over the world and it only made me love it more. I gave many of the best years of my life, a couple fingers and a lot of blood to my country.


I hate that song. It's lame, sappy and embarrassing. The US deserves better than Lee Greenwood.

Rick Turley said...

Ipso Fatso said...

"I was also one of the few that did "How Can I Miss You When You won't Go Away"

Good one. You'd have my total respect if you also did "It's Hard to Kiss the Lips at Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long" by The Notorious Cherry Bombs (Vince Gill and Rodney Crowell).

Saw the Bellamy Brothers last year. Good jukebox type show.

Lem said...

This guy is right about that song. I remember not liking it when I first heard it back at televised campaign rallies for Reagan. But I never would admit it fearing it could be interpreted as a denunciation of Reagan and conservatives which at the time i was sort of a closeted follower, Bill Buckley reader and instant fan of a new talk radio host Rush.

Steven said...

To me, it seems more religiously correct not to ask for future blessings but to thank God for the blessings that you have.

Hmm? For a Christian to refrain from petitionary prayer is not to be more religiously correct, but less. C.S. Lewis had a whole thing on this, pointing out that petitionary prayer is expressly commanded. The Lord's Prayer does not include the line "Thank you for today's bread", but "Give us our daily bread". Not "Thank you for delivering us from evil", but "Deliver us from evil". To arrive at the conclusion that it is incorrect to petition God is to arrive at the conclusion that behavior Jesus both commanded (in the Lord's Prayer) and exemplified (at Gethsemane) is incorrect.

Now, over here as an atheist I can appreciate various philosophical arguments about the paradox of petitionary prayer to an omniscient, omnipotent deity. But a Christian who avoids it is pretty obviously failing to be a good Christian, and should, well, probably pray for God to give him the strength to pray to God for things.

Wilbur said...

My favorite bar in college at Illinois was The Rose Bowl, in downtown Urbana. A hardcore country bar with a good house band, Sonny Norman and the Drifting Playboys. A great place to take a Chicago coed and let her experience (and after a few rounds of Blue, enjoy) the whole scene. The locals put up with us long hairs, after eyeing us with a bit of wary suspicion, after we behaved in a respectful if enthusiastic manner. Great music, great times. The band even played a couple of Bob Wills songs we requested.

Nancy Reyes said...

One wonders if all those yuppies who hate patriotic songs have ever lived in third word hellholes.

Or realize that a lot of Americans migrated there because they were uppity lower class types who despised the gentry who ran the government and tried to run their lives... and this includes most "illegal immigrants" who mainly want economic freedom to raise their families in peace and prosperity..

Linguistically, "god bless you" is an old fashioned way to say "thank you". And the song God Bless America is not telling God to bless America, but thanking America for freedom (in the case of the songwriter Irving Berlin, it meant freedom from Russian Nazi Pogroms).

PresbyPoet said...

Appreciate this song. There are much worse choices. Last Sunday the social justice Catholic church we sometimes attend chose for their 4th of July song: "This is my Song". It has no patriotism. It sings that..."other lands are beating with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine." I stopped singing. I refuse to support their anti-America agenda.

Remember America has had a strange blessed relationship with God. Just ask Bismark. Both Pearl Harbor and 9-11 could have been so much worse. I fear for this country if God decides we are no longer worth protecting. We have no right to divine protection.

Regarding blessings. My parting words to people are; "Have a Joyful Day." At a bank I visit, they now address me as "Mr. Joyful." If we practice living a life of blessing all we meet, (at least all willing to be blessed) we live a much more joyful life. This is not joy after suffering, but joy in midst of suffering. This is where blessing is hard to understand. Why did the disciples rejoice when they suffered? What does it mean to be blessed?

Jane the Actuary said...

Yes, "God bless. . . " has an understood "may" in front of it.

It's like "good-bye", which started out as "God be with you" and was, of course, not a command to the deity to accompany the hearer, but a wish, "may God be with you."

In German (Bavarian), there's Gruess Gott, which is litterally "greet God," and has northern Germans mocking with "OK, I'll greet God for you," but started out as "may God greet you." And the uber-Bavarian farewell expression is Pferti, which is the shortening of something that once translated as "may God go with you."

Wilbur said...

Nancy Reyes said...
"One wonders if all those yuppies who hate patriotic songs have ever lived in third word hellholes."

Don't be an ass. I don't like THIS "patriotic" song; it's putrid, and it's not redeemed because it's "patriotic". How dare you assume anything about my experiences, beliefs and huge appreciation of and for this country?

Tarrou said...

@ Nancy Reyes,

Feel free to read my above comment. I have lived in third-world hellholes, for a large portion of my life (missionary kid/infantryman). I don't qualify as a yuppie in any way, shape or form. I don't hate patriotic songs. I just hate this one. It gives patriotic songs a bad name.

Robin Eatmon said...

Of course you pray for the souls of those who mean you harm.

LilyBart said...

Opinions are like A**es. We all have one.

I like the song.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

It's just a horrible excuse for an anthem - or anything of the like.

If I were to write an American anthem for nursery school children, I'd write the Lee Greenwood song. It's just the most babyish excuse for melodic patriotism ever written for this country.

Joe said...

"As a bona fide failed songwriter living in Nashville for over 30 years..."

Look up "argumentum ad verecundiam",

(Made all the more hilarious in that Nashville churns out almost as much shit as Hollywood.)

Skyler said...

I hate that song. The tune is clearly catchy enough to be an earworm, and I don't resent his success with it, but the lyrics are so unpatriotic. "I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free." Yeah, it sucks here but at least I'm free. I can't think of anything nice to say about the place, but they say I'm free, and that sounds nice.

It's like the worst left handed compliment ever.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

How is "American" a place, anyway?

Kelly said...

I don't know why, but that song makes me cringe. I passionately hate it! There, I said it. During the first gulf war it was played constantly along with that stupid Bette Miller song, God is watching you, or something to that effect. We were stationed at Fort Carson and my husband was deployed. Friends and I were going to a support the troops rally when we passed protesting college students and my friend blared that song. I could only avert my eyes in embarrassment. During the Iraq war when my husband was deployed again there were lots of good songs like Letters from Home, Tony Keith's The Red White and Blue, or Tim Mcgraws If You're Reading This, to name a few.

Richard said...

If the commenter is, indeed, a failed songwriter, then his criticism might be taken with a grain of salt. Jealousy is one of those sins which are no fun.
"God bless you" is generally understood as, "I hope God will bless you." Nothing wrong there.
There was a sociologist from, iirc, Berkely who went to Louisiana to study the strange people who were not like her. She found them friendly and welcoming. One wag suggested she didn't get the nuances of "God bless you" or "Bless your heart." There's no indication she was attacked with, "I'm onna pray for you.".
According to a priest I queried on the subject, it is blasphemy to say "Praise the Lord" to somebody with the intention of annoying him. There go half my "Merry Christmas.:
So "God Bless The USA" is said to be a lousy song. We all have a limited amount of time and energy. Why is this such a suck of our limited time and energy and attention?
Me! Call on me! Because, as Obama, back home again in Indonesia, says, patriotism is declasse'. For the lower orders. Dumping on this song, whatever its limits, is virtue signaling. Really, really obvious virtue signaling.

Freeman Hunt said...

Dumping on this song, whatever its limits, is virtue signaling. Really, really obvious virtue signaling.

Or art matters. People could dump on the state of film or popular music generally, but there one finds an ocean of material, so perhaps it's better to find the little urchin in the lagoon of patriotic songs.

gadfly said...

On the 4th of July, I visited AEI, to view Mark J. Perry's annual celebration of America's birthday featuring Ray Charles singing "America the Beautiful" on three separate videos including the 1984 Republican Convention featuring Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

Ray Charles brings dampness to my eyes. Lee Greenwood doesn't even do his hokey "War is Wonderful" song well.