Concert preview: Patriotic Lee Greenwood to close Downs’ series

Jul 21, 2017

BATAVIA — Country music star Lee Greenwood, 74, has 35 singles that have charted since 1982. Seven of those songs reached number one on the Billboard country charts including “Somebody’s Gonna Love You,” “Dixie Road” and “Hearts Aren’t Made to Break (They’re Made to Love).”

The singer-songwriter, who headlines the final installment of the inaugural Rockin’ the Downs series Friday night at Batavia Downs, had one song in 1984 that reached number 7 on the country charts. It is a song that entered the public consciousness when he performed it at the 1984 Republican National Convention for Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

The song, “God Bless the U.S.A.,” has become part of the American fabric. It was originally written by Greenwood in response to a long-forgotten incident in American history, the shooting down of a Korean commercial jet by a Soviet missile. All of the plane’s passengers were killed, including a congressional representative from Georgia.

Thematically, the song is written from the perspective of a person who loves this country, the freedom it stands for and the people that have fought and defended those freedoms.

Aside from the National Anthem and “America the Beautiful,” no other song evokes the pride of “God Bless the U.S.A.” It is a song that is comforting in times of national turmoil and inspirational in times of peace.

That is what explains why the song charted multiple times, once during its initial release, later during the first Gulf War and then again in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks and yet again after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Over the last year, Greenwood performed the song at President Donald Trump’s inauguration and other Trump events and rallies.

Of course, the septuagenarian has embraced the song, but one song is hardly enough to fill a show. Fans can expect a healthy dose of old-fashioned country music, the type that existed before every country song had to be laced with beer and pickup trucks.

Like the song, Greenwood is a patriot, and regardless of what side of the political fence you are on, his songs are meant to unite people, not divide them.

For the show, Batavia Downs donated a huge block of tickets to military personnel. That means you will get to sing the song along with the people that inspired it. Is there a better way to end a concert series? I don’t think so.

By Thom Jennings, The Daily News