By Lin Brehmer

You might remember how 93XRT stopped playing music on September 11, 2001 and began taking phone calls from you on the air. When the music resumed, we were very sensitive to how the songs sounded. One monolithic radio property famously suspended airplay of any song that referred to death, fire, loss, etc. They had decided to err on the side of a kind of ridiculous inoffensiveness. Here’s the thing. Songs are powerful, but they are personal and any selection of songs that I have played on anniversaries may seem random, but maybe they will mean something to you as they did for me. Some of these songs are sad. Sad is O.K.

What songs have special meaning for you on 9/11?

Simon and Garfunkel-The Only Living Boy in New York. Originally a song about Art Garfunkel embarking on his acting career. After 9/11 it made a different kind of sense.

Ryan Adams-New York, New York. A song that was released on September 11th. Four days before the attack, Adams did a video with New York as its backdrop. Adams decided to donate proceeds from the video to a 9/11 charity. “I still love you New York.”

Leo Kottke-Tiny Island. If you’ve ever felt like escaping and leaving it all behind, this is the song for you.

The Rolling Stones-Salt of the Earth. On September 12th 2001, I played this song with the first responders in mind. At the Concert For New York, Mick and Keith chose this one too.

Tom Petty-I Won’t Back Down. Had a request to start my show this Monday with this song. So I will. This version is from America: A Tribute to Heroes, September 21, 2001.

Neil Young-Let’s Roll. A little bit too much perspective.

Wilco-Jesus Etc. Like many songs, it sounded completely different in the fall of ’01.
“Tall buildings shake. Voices escape singing sad sad songs.”

Bruce Springsteen-The Rising. I once believed Springsteen’s The Rising was the most eloquent and appropriate musical response to the tragedy. I still do.

Elvis Costello-What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love and Understanding? Live on Letterman. Hilarious intro.

John Lennon-Imagine. In my world, Lennon gets the last word.

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Comments (2)
  1. Ben says:

    All fine selections. I remember you played an acoustic number that I had never heard before which was also quite moving. You played it shortly after 9/11 and then again on the anniversary shortly thereafter. What was that song?

  2. Mark Gontarz says:

    Springsteen’s most eloquent and appropriate musical response to the tragedy? I gotta go with his 9/21/01 (same fundraising concert that the Petty was from) live performance of the pre-9/11 penned “My City Of Ruins”. It’s part of my patriotic mix and I have listened to it every Memorial, Independence, and 9/11 anniversary day of the last ten years and that performance (NOT the version on the RISING lp) brings tears to my eyes still. Absolutely stunning.

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