Lee Greenwood – “Why Lie”

Karlie Justus Marlowe | September 24th, 2009

lee-greenwood-why-lieTo the casual Lee Greenwood fan—that is, anyone who solely associates him with “God Bless the USA” and his 90s-tastic stars and stripes bomber jacket—the singer’s latest single may appear to be a quite a departure from Lee Greenwood the Patriotic Figurehead to Lee Greenwood the Country Crooner.

Sure, “God Bless the USA” is technically a country song, but it and its writer have grown into something more than that: Ranking ahead of “God Bless America” and the National Anthem in a poll of the most recognizable patriotic songs, the tune has become a permanent addition to the nation’s shared musical vocabulary. When Greenwood’s name comes up in circles and audiences outside of country music, he is instantly recognizable for this tune.

It’s surprising, then, that this signature song never garnered Greenwood the top spot on the U.S. country charts during any of its releases; instead, his seven number one singles came in the form of smooth, Kenny Rogers-esque songs such as “Somebody’s Gonna Love You” and “Morning Ride” during the mid to late 1980s. Since then, Greenwood hasn’t broke into the top ten–which may explain why his latest single sounds like he picked up right where he left off of his radio success.

“Why Lie,” the first take off Greenwood’s untitled return to county music, is the thematic opposite of Tim McGraw’s “Just to See You Smile”: “Why even try to hide, deny/These feelings I have inside/You say that it’s for the best/but even with my dying breath, I couldn’t begin to try/Why lie?” From its upbeat portrayal of heartache to that ubiquitous 90s country steel guitar riff threading throughout the entire song, it’s a straight-up slice of neo-traditional pie that only the likes of Alan Jackson can get away with in today’s mainstream climate.

Greenwood has admitted country music chose him instead of the other way around, going so far as to describe the genre as the “avenue of least resistance” after an early stint in Las Vegas didn’t pan out. However, his hoarse voice and emotive story-telling ability lend the singer well to country music, as well as to this tune: What “Why Lie” lacks in substance, it makes up in style, as Greenwood sells his role as a frustrated lover on the receiving end of a break-up with an exasperated sincerity that belies the rhyme-happy chorus.

Despite its clunky echoes and overreliance on clichéd professions of love, “Why Lie” is a catchy effort in the vein of Greenwood’s earlier hits “Dixie Road” and “Hearts Aren’t Made To Break (They’re Made to Love),” from a man whose 30-year career in pop and country music has lived mostly in the shadow of one career-making song.

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  1. Paul W Dennis
    September 24, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Lee was always a superior balladeer. At one time he was in the Orlando area doing commercials for a Toyota dealership (this was before he hit it big). I never regarded him as especially country (and in Central Florida he got much airplay on pop and easy listening stations) but I always regarded him as a very good singer

  2. Rick
    September 24, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Its nice to see these artists who had their greatest success a few decades ago try to get back in the game. Unfortunately the vast majority of the Young/Modern Country Top 40 radio stations couldn’t care less and will ignore Lee just like they did with Larry Gatlin. Smaller market stations who spin cuts by lesser known artists off CDX CDs will embrace this but the corporate mindset stations won’t give it a second thought and that’s a shame.

  3. buddynoel
    September 24, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    The big question will be, “Can the public buy this song?” Doubtful it will show up on Wal-Mart’s shelves. Greenwood has found a great backdoor by showing up on Sean Hannity’s Freedom Tour. Compare the Arbitron ratings. Right now, right wing media is more popular than country music, so he will be just fine.

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