Thursday, September 11, 2008


On one hand, what can music do when the entire country is simultaneously mourning and in shock? On the other - in my opinion, and in that of many others - music helps people to heal in a small way.

The America: A Tribute To Heroes telethon took place on 9/21, just ten days after 9/11. I remember being totally moved, and in the back of mind a bit impressed with the networks. I thought they did a great job of being classy, not cheesy, not embarrassing, and clearly dropped the usual business and commerical concerns.

I listen to the album once a year - around 9/11 obviously. I remember seeing Bruce Springsteen open the show with "My City Of Ruins." At my job at VH1, we actually had footage of him performing it a week or so earlier at a fair in Asbury Park. It was about Asbury Park, but obviously it really worked for the awful situation the country was in. Most people thought he wrote it after 9/11, which goes to show how good of a writer Bruce is. Stevie Wonder along with the vocal group Take 6 did a great version of his underrated classic "Love's In Need Of Love Today" from Songs In The Key Of Life. Alicia Keys did a solo piano reading of Donny Hathaway 's "Someday We'll All Be Free." It was oddly joyous: she was partially mourning, but also looking toward a better future. Dave Matthews did a solo version of his "Everyday," a hit single at the time that also worked perfectly. The Dixie Chicks did a really moving version of "I Believe In Love," which I don't think they'd released yet. Sting did a very apropos "Fragile" and U2 did their best ever version of their instant-classic "Walk On." Sheryl Crow sang my personal favorite song of hers "Safe And Sound" (originally about an ex-boyfriend, it still seemed to fit the situation), Neil Young had one of his finest moments with his cover of John Lennon's "Imagine" (a song that Clear Channel supposedly "banned" from its radio stations post 9/11) and Neil also backed Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready on "Long Road."

For that night, it helped make the events of 9/11 a bit easier to process somehow. Willie Nelson ended the night leading a number of artists (including Mariah Carey) through a ragged version of "America The Beautiful," which made me feel patriotic and like it was time to start trying to move on.

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