How rock music was reshaped on the morning of September 11


As the World Trade Center towers fell on the morning of September 11, 2001, new albums of Bob Dylan, Nickelback and Slayer were put on the shelves by employees unaware of the unfolding tragedy in New York City. , and a warm concert was planned by Sting, who also had no idea what was going on across the ocean.

Tragedy cast a long shadow over it all, and in the days that followed that shadow stretched across the rock music world as a series of songs were banned by the world’s largest radio network. American. Soon after, however, the musicians began to back down, composing tribute songs and hosting huge fundraising events.

Dylan released an album that seemed instantly prescient that Tuesday, offering a glimpse into the confusion, fear and anger surrounding 9/11 – even though it was written long before that day. Love and flight, the centerpiece of a trio of resurgent ’90s Dylan albums, nonetheless found a home for songs like “Mississippi” which featured the striking image of a “sky full of fire / falling pain. ”A week later, Greg Tate from Voice of the village was led to ask, “What did Dylan know and when did he know?” “

Slayer only became part of 9/11 history by accident. Their 2001 album, God hates us all, also happened on September 11 and included the strange line “Pessimist, terrorist aiming for the next brand / Global chaos feeds on hysteria“(From song” Disciple “) Slayer’s album was originally slated for release in July, but was delayed due to several issues.

Watch “My City of Ruins” by Bruce Springsteen

Abroad, Sting had invited fellow musicians to his home in the Italian province of Tuscany for an intimate outdoor performance intended to present new arrangements of some of his best-known tunes. He had hoped to emerge with a new single and then a video release of the concert. News of the attacks reached Sting just hours before they were staged that Tuesday, and a series of intense emotional encounters – all captured by the documentary film crew – took place as the musicians wondered how, or even if they should, proceed.

In the end, Sting moved forward with the performance, although an understandable obscurity permeated the early proceedings. “I was deeply upset because my wife and I lost a friend in one of the towers,” Sting told the Chicago Tribune in 2003. “I chose not to do the concert, but the band wanted to play. the right thing to do. “

Days later, the attacks led Clear Channel executives to create a long list of “potentially inappropriate songswhich programmers at 1,200 stations were encouraged to avoid. The 160 tracks included AC / DC’s “Shot Down in Flames,” Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young,” Ozzy Osbourne’s “Suicide Solution,” “Burnin ‘for You by Blue Oyster Cult”, “Travelin’ Band” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Holy Diver” by Dio, “Rocket Man” by Elton John, “Seek and Destroy” by Metallica and “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin, and every song by Rage against the machine.

Watch Sting discuss 9/11 before playing “Fragile”

A benefit concert was quickly organized and broadcast on September 21 by the four major American networks and numerous cable companies, then broadcast under the title America: a tribute to the heroes this december. Bruce Springsteen updated a previously written song titled “My City of Ruins” to reflect the tragedy. Neil Young covered John Lennon’s “Imagine” – which ironically was also on Clear Channel’s banned songs list. Tom Petty, Billy Joel, Sting, Paul Simon, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora all performed, as did U2, who appeared via satellite from London to perform “Walk On”.

McCartney then released a new song called “Freedom” on November 5th. With Clapton on guitar, the single was sold as an advantage. “We hadn’t counted on this demand for ‘Freedom’,” McCartney told the BBC. “But since that’s what people want, we’re pushing him out quickly to try to raise money for the firefighters and the NYPD.”

Also in November, Young posted “Let’s Roll,” named after Todd Beamer’s last words before he and a group of other passengers attempted to catch the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93. Young, who went on to include “Let’s Roll” in 2002 Are you passionate?, said he was inspired by a story told by Beamer’s widow.

“She was talking the way he always said [“let’s roll”] with the kids when they’d go out and do something – that’s what he often said when he had a job to do, ”Young said in an interview with Impulse the next year. “And it is so poignant, and there is no more legendary and heroic act than what these people did. No promise of martyrdom, no promise of reward anywhere for it, other than the simple act of know you did the right thing. “

Sting released his show on September 11, titled All this time, on November 20 of the same year, declaring that it was “respectfully dedicated to all those who lost their lives that day”. In 2002, Springsteen had completed an attack meditation album titled The climb, with “My City of Ruins” as the highlight.

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