10 Years Later: Songs About 9/11
After the terrorist attacks 10 years ago on September 11, the country and world came together to grieve, comfort and find hope. After the collapse of the Twin Towers, artists turned to music to express the array of emotions provoked by the attacks. Artists from all genres — from Bruce Springsteen to Aaron Tippin to The Black Eyed Peas — tackled the event in song. Below are several of the songs written about the attacks and in honor of the victims.
Bruce Springsteen’s ‘The Rising’ was written after the September 11 terrorist attacks and was released in 2002. It won the Grammy for Best Rock Song and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance and was nominated for Song of the Year. Rolling Stone named it the 35th best song of the decade, and for many it is THE most revered song to come out of the tragedy.
My Blue Manhattan
Ryan Adams filmed a video in front of the World Trade Center four days before the September 11 attacks. Adams wrote ‘My Blue Manhattan’ following the attacks. The song features the moving lyrics:
My blue Manhattan
She cusses with her sailor’s mouth and fire and rain on the streets
It’s you against me most days
It’s me against you
Making snow angels in the gravel and the dirt
Crawling like a spider, and I’m somewhere inside her
Too hurt to move, too hurt to move
My blue Manhattan
Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly
‘Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly,’ recorded by Aaron Tippin was released in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. All proceeds from the single went to the American Red Cross and its relief efforts for the families of the attacks.
Alan Jackson’s ‘Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)’ was written in the wake of the September 11 attacks and was premiered at the Country Music Association’s annual awards show on November 7, 2001. It spent five weeks at the No. 1 spot of Billboard’s Top Country Singles Chart. The song features the moving lyrics:
Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
Were you teaching a class full of innocent children
Or driving down some cold interstate?
Did you feel guilty ’cause you’re a survivor
In a crowded room did you feel alone?
Did you call up your mother and tell her you loved her?
Did you dust off that Bible at home?
Grand Central Station
Mary Chapin Carpenter says she was inspired to write ‘Grand Central Station’ after hearing an interview on the first anniversary of the attacks with a man who was one of the first at the scene after the Twin Towers fell. The man, an iron worker, worked at Ground Zero for days after and said he would go to Grand Central Station at the end of each day so that the souls of the victims could follow him.
Bon Jovi’s ‘Undivided’ was released in 2002 and speaks of the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. The song was released on the album ‘Bounce,’ which was heavily influenced by the events of September 11. In an interview, Bon Jovi said “I didn’t want it to be overly sentimental, overly patriotic, but certainly acknowledging what myself, the band and the country have been through.”
Neil Young’s ‘Let’s Roll’ was written after Young read that Todd Beamer, one of the passengers who fought the hijackers of Flight 93, called an Airfone operator and said they were going to rush the terrorists. Before hanging up, the operator heard Beamer tell the other passengers, “Let’s roll.”
Disturbed released the song ‘Prayer’ in August 2002. Vocalist David Draiman said the song is his conversation with God about both the September 11 attacks and the death of his grandfather.
The Black Eyed Peas released ‘Where is the Love?’ as a vague response to the September 11 attacks. “The world needs this song right now,” said will.i.am. of the band’s breakout hit.
While Wheatus’ ‘Hometown’ many not have topped the charts, but it features some chilling lyrics:
I trade all my sunshine, For twin towers to hide behind
And find you there
When I left on that sunday, To come home on a Tuesday
Well I never, I never thought I’d have to see and watch the world explode.