that crappy song.

Someone sent me a link to a YouTube video, and as much as I don’t object to the message contained therein (it’s the one where the Iraq vet with the artificial leg lays out why he will vote for McCain), my brain goes into automatic Mental Nausea mode whenever I hear that craptastic Lee Greenwood song, “God Bless the USA.”

Allow me to recycle a prior post that delineates just what exactly I find objectionable about that song:

The lyrics are not only ham-fisted, but they’re also completely off the mark in terms of accuracy and literacy.

Let’s examine a few snippets, shall we?

“And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free…”

Does he mean that he knows very little except for the fact that he’s free, or does he mean that being free is the only source of his pride?  It’s also poor English, with mismatched noun/adverb pairing.

“…and I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.”

Which right is that–the right to be free? That’s not “given” to us by anyone, that’s our inherent inalienable right as humans, as noted by the Founding Fathers. This is questionable Constitutional scholarship. Our armed citizen soldiers may defend our freedom, but they’re not the source of it.

I won’t get into the rest of the song, but suffice it to say that I flinch every time I hear that pathos-laden hymn. But hey, Lee Greenwood is laughing all the way to the bank, which shows you that few people ever go broke selling bumper-sticker sing-along pseudo-patriotism. Be proud of our country all you want, but at least know why you’re proud of it, and don’t just sing along to someone else’s semi-literate ditty and go, “Yeah! What he said!”


29 thoughts on “that crappy song.

  1. Brandon says:

    You’re not alone. I hate that song. Where I live, I’m sure to get labeled a “damn commie” for that opinion, but I can’t help it. It’s a terribly written song.

  2. Chris B says:

    What bothers me about the song is that it helps a lot of sheeple remain deeply asleep in the belief that they’re “free” despite steadily mounting evidence to the contrary. If you get enough people in a prison nation like the USSR screaming “We are free” long enough and loud enough they’ll believe it.

    I know a lot of Americans that are supremely confident in the idea that we’re better than any other country, because we’re free and everyone else isn’t, these are also people that never travel outside the US, yet if you ask them what it actually means to be free they’d be short on words.

  3. theflatwhite says:

    @Chris B,
    Name me a country that is “free-er”.
    Categories: religion, speech, right to bear arms, travel, private ownership.

    Maybe the “sheeple” aren’t as articulate as you’d like them to be and they can’t say exactly why they think they are free, but at least in relative terms, they are.

    There is a lot that could be better in terms of freedom here, but there is not a country in which I’d rather live.

  4. Marko says:


    I don’t dispute that at all (especially not the last sentence, which finds me 110% in agreement). It’s still a crummy song, though, and not exactly the best way to express that sentiment.

  5. Stingray says:

    I hate that song with a firey passion, but you’ve got to admit that
    “Well I’m proud to be a United States citizen where I am aware among other things that I posess a level of freedom unsurpassed by other nations developed or un, provided I am not in violation of local or federal laws, capricious as they often are, and have paid my taxes” doesn’t scan.

  6. Beavis says:

    A friend of mine came up with a parody of the song. It goes like this:

    I’m proud to live in the Emirates,
    where at least the oil’s free
    and i won’t forget the men who died
    who gave that right to me
    so i’ll gladly stand up
    with sheik abdul and defend her still today
    cause there aint no doubt I love this land
    god bless the UAE!!!

  7. Mike says:

    I think, without preamble, that the song conveys a…. (give me a break for using the term)
    feeling… that is easy to internalize. It has a few stirring moments that, I suspect, a good number of
    “murricans” can get behind. Mr. Greenwood has made a great career, no doubt, from this effort; I hope (sincerely) that he has a great run in a well- received place like Branson, Missouri.
    Personally, I don’t think I would spend a lot to see one of his shows, but the appeal is on a more visceral level, so I can respect that.
    Let’s not forget that Mr. Francis Scott Key wrote an almost impossible anthem to sing…
    Just ask Rosanne….. never mind….

  8. Gabbo! says:

    I never minded the words much…just the stratospheric heights of the vocals. Rattle the teeth, they do.

  9. Chris B says:


    People in different countries have different freedoms, we might be better in some but other places certainly have us beat in others. CATO has a lot of info on this if you care to look into it.

    Aside from that, my point still holds about my beef with the song, Americans hear it and continue on their merry way ignoring that fact that we’re being increasingly shackled. If only Rage Against the Machine were libertarians…

  10. […] Marko takes issue with a crappy song: Which right is thatthe right to be free? Thats not given to us by anyone, thats our inherent inalienable right as humans, as noted by the Founding Fathers. This is questionable Constitutional scholarship. Our armed citizen soldiers may defend our freedom, but theyre not the source of it. […]

  11. yeah, i admit that song makes me squirm a little…

    but consider the alternatives…bo’s actual words in his acceptance speech: “the promise of America is the fundamental belief that i am my brother’s keeper, that i am my sister’s keeper”

    let’s see the dixie chucks wrap a ditty around that…


  12. Tony says:

    Whoa. That was impressive. Marko, you just critizised a patriotic song. And nobody has chased you out of the country with torches and pitchforks! How do you do that?

    Years ago, on a predominately US-populated forum, I made the mistake of saying that I found the US measurement system for lenghts to be more difficult to use and understand than the metric system. If those guys had an ICBM in their use, I would give even odds that they would have launched it at me… And this was after being there for years, so my pro-USA opinion should have been rather well known. (I was seriously thinking about immigrating to the states back then.) I guess those folks just had a more xenophobic than usual streak, or something, but after my experience I can’t help but be amazed at how non-native some people like yourself manage to actually be critical towards some aspects of the US and its culture, without their so-called friends doing the whole pitchforks-and-torches thing.

    Meh. I guess I didn’t have much of a point here. I just felt impressed by the civility of comments here and felt like saying it. In my usual roundabout way, of course… :p

  13. LisaK says:

    I’m sure he meant well, but I have always hated that song.

  14. Andrew says:

    So spot on Marko.
    A month or so ago (thanks to your tax dollars) I attended an outstanding week long course aimed at helping us get inside the mind of a terrorist. I mean, topnotch training. And then the last day, after the AAR and before we get our certificates, they have us watch this 9/11 montage with that annoying fucking tripe as the soundtrack. Me and some of the other guys were just looking at each other thinking “You have GOT to be fucking kidding me.” Walmart culture I guess.

  15. pax says:

    Heh. Several years ago, on a message board I rarely visit anymore, I foolishly used the word “doggerel” to describe another lousy patriotic song.

    You’d have thought the world was coming to an end … 😀

  16. John H says:

    “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free…”

    Will someone please tell Lee Greenwood that “an American” is not a place?

  17. Tam says:


    If those guys had an ICBM in their use, I would give even odds that they would have launched it at me…

    Ah, there you are! Now we just need to refine this targeting data based on your IP add’y… Please don’t move for, oh, about thirty minutes, okay?

  18. Tony says:


    I think you missed. 🙂

  19. unvarnishedtruth says:

    To theflatwhite:

    > Name me a country that is “free-er”.

    I can name a whole continent. It’s called Europe.

  20. Vaarok says:

    I’m relieved everyone else hates that song. It’s on par with the Barney The Purple Dinosaur song both in lyrical cleverness, inclusive appeal to simpletons, and degree of annoyance it generates in me.

  21. unvarnished truth: dude, i am gasping for air here i’m laughing so hard…that’s some funny shit right there…


  22. mcclaud says:

    The thing that drives me absolutely batty about that song is that it seems to take an arrogant tone of voice about the rest of the world compared to the US.

    A majority of Americans do seem to have an arrogance about them that puts off other countries, and when shit like this continues to be an “anthem” for how great we art, other countries laugh at us even more.

    There are days when I’m glad to be an American, but JFC, I don’t need some shitty country song blasting in the background. Patriotism is okay, but holy fucking shit, dude.

  23. […] 12, 2008 by mcclaud Much like this guy, I was watching a TV program the other night that was speaking of the great glories of GW Bush. I […]

  24. mcclaud: “There are days when I’m glad to be an American”…

    and on other days i can only guess that you fondly dream of halcyon days in theplacewheregreatbritainusedtobe…heh.

    then you’ll have reason for concern when others laugh at you.


  25. mcclaud says:


    There are days, and then there are days.

  26. mts says:

    My dirty little secret is that I too think the refrain is way too goofy. Having been taught proper English (why is that so rare anymore), I cringe at the first line, and agree about the second.

    I’m proud to be in the USA, where I’m glad I can be free,
    and I won’t forget the men who died, to save that right for me,
    and I’ll gladly stand up, next to you, and defend her still today,
    let there be no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA!

    Was that so hard? And it rolls off the tongue just as easily. 30 seconds of tidying it up, but that’ll never fly. We’re stuck with the “wing it” version.

  27. Weetabix says:

    “with mismatched noun/adverb pairing”

    And I thought I was a prescriptivist. I bow to your superior skills.

    Of course, I’m only an amateur English user…

  28. Jay Hafemeister says:

    It’s nice to know that Lee Greenwood would gladly defend her today. When his countrymen were fighting communists in southeast Asia Lee didn’t enlist. He stood by and took a deferrment because he had kids.

    So you can add “I’d gadly stand up next to you and defend her STILL today” to the list of irritating lyrics. Still? Still?! Shut you F-n piehole Lee.

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