Thursday, September 11, 2008


On October 20, 2001 - just over a month after 9/11 - VH1 organized The Concert For New York City. I had just started working at VH1, and I gotta say, I was really proud to work there at that moment. I wasn't involved in the concert, but I knew people who did: I watched from home with my girlfriend (now my wife). 

There were a lot of really good sets: David Bowie opened with a really interesting version of Simon & Garfunkel's "America" and then did his own classic"Heroes"; Eric Clapton played with Buddy Guy; Billy Joel played with his band, Elton John played solo and they did a duo thing also; Mick Jagger and Keith Richards performed together, John Mellencamp played and was joined by Kid Rock; James Taylor played, and Paul McCartney headlined. 

But everyone knows what the highlights of the show were: Adam Sandler's set as "Operaman," and, of course, The Who's performance. I listened to both today, actually. Sandler's set shows the healing power of laughter. It must be one of the greatest comedy performances of all time. And The Who. Wow. Since they started reuniting in 1989, they've been approximating their old greatness, and sometimes hitting it. It's not really realistic for anyone to think that they can exceed the heights they achieved when Keith Moon was alive. And yet, on this night, they did. I've seen it rated as one of their best performances ever, and was the only post-Moon performance to be included on that list. 

I remember an exec at VH1 saying that they should have had more "modern" bands, although The Goo Goo Dolls, The Backstreet Boys, Destiny's Child, Five For Fighting and Jay-Z were on the bill (Jay-Z in particular was so lame I was embarrassed for him).  This guy has great instincts and has become even more successful since then. But how wrong he was: adding Sugar Ray and matchbox twenty wouldn't have really worked. The crowd needed larger than life artists and larger than life songs to lift them up and help them mourn. They needed music by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who, not Smash Mouth

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