Top Five Best & Worst Songs About 9/11
This Sunday will be 10 years since America was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. In that time, a lot of musical ground has been covered. Some artists mention that day only in passing, as Jay-Z and Alicia Keys do in "Empire State of Mind," but some have crafted songs about 9/11 itself.
Some of these are heartfelt, sincere outpourings of emotion by people who were there or were genuinely moved by what happened. Some songs are knee-jerk gut reactions with little more thought put into them than goes into a sneeze. And of course, some of these songs are simply crass exploitation.
We're going to take a look at the best and worst of the songs we've encountered in the past ten years that were written about 9/11 or events pertaining to it. Something to understand before you even start hitting that "Add Comment" button: This means we're going to be mocking some people who probably had the best of intentions.
Tough shit. You want a better review, put out a better product, especially when it has to do with something as serious and lasting as 9/11, which is still at the top of the news. Let's start with the best...
5. Sage Francis, "Makeshift Patriot": Recorded in October 2001, Sage took just enough time to refine his prose while still exposing his raw nerves. The rapper from Providence, R.I., visited Ground Zero five days after the attacks, and this track recounts his frustration at the bandwagon patriots on the news and in the city, people all too quick to jump in line behind our leaders and cease asking critical questions.
He as much as predicts the subsequent creation of the Patriot Act, warning "Freedom will be defended at the cost of civil liberties." He decries a media which at the time was panicking America into a patriotic fervor by showing the attacks on the news over and over and over again, while a city and nation in mourning were still trying to heal. Pretty powerful stuff, a snapshot of the times, with an air of urgency, immediacy, and sadness.
4. Bruce Springsteen, "The Rising": Springsteen has always known how to espouse hope without spouting cliches and overwrought sentiment, and here he displays this skill in an honest-to-God anthem. With key passages written from the perspective of a New York City firefighter ascending one of the burning towers, "The Rising" begs us to literally rise above the hate and the ugliness that led to September 11. It's a song not of revenge and war, but of peace and unity. And a hell of a singalong chorus to boot.
3. The Weepies, "Safe As Houses": The Weepies recount what it was like to not know if your loved ones were dead or alive on that day. Harrowing and sad, but with an undercurrent of real love.
2. The Low Anthem, "Boeing 737": This song imagines a conversation with Philipe Petit, the man who walked a tightrope between the twin towers in 1974, as chronicled in the excellent documentary Man On Wire. The conversation is interrupted when "prophets entered boldly into the bar," a fairly clear allusion to the 9/11 attacks.
This imagery brings to mind several questions: What if Petit and the towers had been destroyed before that historic tightrope walk could take place? How many Philipe Petits did we lose on 9/11, people who may have gone on to greatness? How many shared national experiences like Petit's 1974 walk have we missed out on because those 3,000 people were murdered? A thought-provoking song.
1. Mary-Chapin Carpenter, "Grand Central Station": As told from the perspective of a rescue worker on his way to work at Ground Zero, digging through the wreckage for bodies. He sees faces of the missing plastered on the walls of Grand Central Station and wonders if he'll be able to bring any of them home. A simple, powerful, and very human portrait.
Now that we've lifted your spirits and touched your heart, it's time for Rocks Off insult your intelligence and give you the douche chills. That's right, it's time for the worst...