The musical reactions to the September 11th attacks were vast and varied. They went from the vengeful (Toby Keith’s ‘Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue (The Angry American)’) to the minimalist (Steve Reich’s ‘WTC 9/11’).
Legends like Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and The Beastie Boys felt catalysed enough to devote whole albums to what happened. Meanwhile, Gerard Way said he was inspired to form My Chemical Romance after 9/11.
On the tenth anniversary of the attacks, let’s look at the best and worst of the music the tragedy inspired. You can stream the tracks as playlists at the bottom of the page.
Kanye West – ‘Jesus Walks’
Say what you like about Kanye’s ego but the bombast on this track – tempered by a kind of desperation – perfectly encapsulated the sense of emotional discombobulation people felt in the aftermath.
Bloc Party -‘Hunting For Witches’
Their second album might have been criticised for reducing social issues to stereotypes, but listening to it now, ‘Hunting For Witches’ is brilliantly evocative in its depiction of the paranoia and Islamaphobia that gripped the “ordinary man with ordinary desires“.
Tom Waits – ‘Day After Tomorrow’
A poignant reminder of the fleeting nature of time, which seemed to harken back to Waits 70s troudadour period: “I am not fighting for freedom. I am fighting for my life and another day in my life“.
Toby Keith – ‘Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue’
The sort of piece of ra-ra-ra right wing flag waving that makes most of us want to find a rather large duvet to hide under. Keith’s Mr.T-like “straight talk” is cringeworthy but it gets worse; wait until those Christmas bells start-a-chiming.
The Cranberries- ‘New New York’
Ever since she hit us with her words of wisdom on the likes of ‘Zombie’ and ‘I Just Shot John Lennon’ (sample lyric: “It was the fearful night of December 8th/He was returning home from the studio late/He had perceptively known that it wouldn’t be nice/Because in 1980 he paid the price” *shudders*), Dolores O’Riordan has always been unembarrassed about venting her spleen about the state of the world. “There’s nothing to say,” she screeches before, well, saying quite a lot anyway.
Black Eyed Peas- ‘Where Is The Love’
With their Clinton Card sentiments, BEP spew forth a hippie-era ethos for a generation whose modern icons were the Bratz and Crazy Frog. Also loses points for rhyming “bacteria” with “cinema“.