let it fall down
August 3, 2009 8:25 AM   Subscribe

What music came out soon (within a year) after September 11 2001 that was uniquely affected, either in perception or creation, by the terrorist attacks?

This thread got me interested in whether or not there was a marked shift in cultural priorities or possibilities in the period after 2001, specifically expressed in pop or underground music.

I can think of some, but I'm sure I'm missing lots. This is too generic, and doesn't cover the more underground genres. Also I don't mean stuff explicitly written about War like Neil Young's Let's Roll, or about the attacks like Springsteen's the Rising.

Here's some examples of what I mean:

The Strokes album was a huge hit. Even though it was recorded before September 11, part of the hype leading up to its release was the controversy over the song New York City Cops, but also the fact that they came from Manhatten seemed to give the Fuck You attitude of their record a certain significance.

Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was also a breakout hit for them--the cover depicted two towers, and several of the songs seemed tailor-made to address war, faith and tradgedy (even though that record also was recorded before 9/11).

The rapper Fabolous released his first single in December 2001, helped by a video saturated in American flags and positive references to American mainstream culture.

I'm sure there are more within that first year (or so). Right?
posted by Potomac Avenue to Media & Arts (60 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Jimmy Eat World changed their album title from Bleed American to self-titled.
posted by nitsuj at 8:27 AM on August 3, 2009

Slayer's album God Hates Us All was scheduled to be released on 9/11/2001. (I'm not sure if it was delayed. I got it the next week.) They didn't react to the attacks in any way other than cancelling a tour, but it did tint some of lyrics (which obviously were not referring to the attacks), especially the songs Disciple (which contains the phrase "God hates us all!") and God Send Death.
posted by ignignokt at 8:31 AM on August 3, 2009

Peter Gabriel's Signal to Noise was originally written well before 9/11 (Peter tends to tinker with his albums a LONG time before releasing them); I can't say for sure what the lyrics were originally, but I know he was using a version of it in concert appearances before 9/11.

But the final release came after, during the initial lead-up before we finally went ahead to Iraq, and the lyrics of the final version definitely have a "how do we survive the gathering storm" feel to them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:37 AM on August 3, 2009

Ryan Adams' Gold came out a few weeks later, and his song "New York, New York" was probably a much bigger commercial hit than it would have been otherwise. The video for the song was filmed days before the attack and includes many shots of the city skyline.
posted by padraigin at 8:41 AM on August 3, 2009

About half of Bruce Springsteen's 9/11 concept album The Rising was written prior to that day and several of the songs had all ready been performed on previous tours. My City of Ruins was originally about Asbury Park, NJ.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 8:43 AM on August 3, 2009

Moby's 18
posted by RedEmma at 8:43 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ryan Adams' Gold came out a few weeks later, and his song "New York, New York" was probably a much bigger commercial hit than it would have been otherwise. The video for the song was filmed days before the attack and includes many shots of the city skyline.

Nitpicking here, but that album was actually released on Sept. 11.
posted by jbickers at 8:44 AM on August 3, 2009

....Another thought -- you may want to expand things for a couple years after 9/11 to see affects.

I run a playwriting contest each year, and we didn't even start seeing "9/11 plays" until 2003 at the earliest. The very best artistic response to 9/11 that I ever saw didn't come around until late 2003 (a play called WTC VIEW -- it got made into an independent film), and that was the beginning of the wave; the high-water mark for such plays was in the mid-2000's. Similarly, Hurricane Katrina was in 2005, but we didn't start getting "Katrina plays" until 2007.

I think when it comes to enormous events, sometimes it takes a year or so to process the event itself before you start seeing any kind of artistic reaction. I realize that you're not talking about direct responses -- but sometimes even indirect responses can get delayed too. Or they adopt things that already were there (the best example I can think of is how many people played Randy Newman's song LOUISIANA 1927 to death after Katrina).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:46 AM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

Cher had a hit in 2002 with "Song for the Lonely" which was a tribute of sorts to the resilience of New Yorkers.
posted by kimdog at 8:51 AM on August 3, 2009

Tori Amos deals with it -- in her oblique way -- on Scarlet's Walk. The concept of the album is a cross-country trip in post-9/11 America.
posted by Ladybug Parade at 9:00 AM on August 3, 2009

If you're going for perception, I would consider how songs created before 9/11 are interpreted now. For instance, a couple songs from Springsteen's The Rising were performed live before 9/11, but took on a whole new meaning thereafter. I'm sure his aren't the only songs to get this effect.
posted by jmd82 at 9:00 AM on August 3, 2009

Not a exactly a musical reaction, but the Coup had to change some unfortunately timed cover art: http://www.snopes.com/rumors/thecoup.asp.
posted by kprincehouse at 9:01 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sting's All This Time concert was due to take place on the evening of September 11. And.. it did, but in a totally different style to what was anticipated due to the events of the day. It's available on DVD and there's an awesome "making of" on there that shows the discussion and thought process behind changing the event to mark 9/11 in the right way.

One key change was opening with Fragile.. not a new song but the opening lyrics of which totally summed up that day:

If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one
Drying in the colour of the evening sun
Tomorrow's rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay

posted by wackybrit at 9:02 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Along the same lines as the Jimmy Eat World album name change (which I've never really understood but that's a whole different issue), Bush's song The People That We Love was originally titled Speed Kills.

AC/DC's song Safe in New York City took on new meaning.

Dream Theater's Live Scenes from New York changed the cover art.

Then there's the whole Clear Channel List of Songs We Think You Might Not Want to Play (name given by me).
posted by theichibun at 9:05 AM on August 3, 2009

Actually, Snopes says the whole Clear Channel thing wasn't true. I personally wouldn't be surprised if a station or two somewhere on their own decided to lay off playing a couple songs, though.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:08 AM on August 3, 2009

ladybug mentions Tori Amos' album Scarlet Walk. In particular some people would point to the song "I Can't See New York", although I personally don't see how this song refers to 9/11.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:08 AM on August 3, 2009

David Bowie's album Heathen was often seen in reviews as evocative of the atmosphere of dread in America that followed the 9/11 attacks, even though all of its songs were recorded before September 11.
posted by Prospero at 9:09 AM on August 3, 2009

@EmpressCalliplygos I probably should have said more about that, specifically that it wasn't an official Clear Channel move. Nonetheless, the list exists and somebody had to come up with it.
posted by theichibun at 9:11 AM on August 3, 2009

The Super Furry Animals released "Liberty Belle" in 2003 which referenced 9/11. They're Welsh. I think you'll find a lot of individual songs about it but I would be interested to see if anyone's been able to make a case for an entire mood set in music or a redirection of music because of 9/11.

"Liberty Belle" is Rhys at his most sublime; it invokes images of 9-11 ("As the ashes fly from New York City/Past the grimy clouds above New Jersey"), but the song comes off as more of a comment on the state of the world than just a mere tribute to America ("Everyone sings along though she's singing way out of key/From the shores of Galilee/To the runways of Anglesey"). (source)
posted by Bunglegirl at 9:11 AM on August 3, 2009

Response by poster: I wanted to add quickly some subtle references to 9/11 in rock music as well that were written in 02:

Sonic Youth's Murray Street (the location of their downtown Manhattan studio, near ground zero) and Interpol's "NYC" which doesn't mention the attacks but does have the lines, "the subway she is a porno/ And the pavements they are a mess...But New York Cares" and whose video contains arty photos of planes and mysterious exploding colors.

That Ryan Adams song is exactly what I'm talking about thanks! There are other examples of this kind of historical grandfathering-in of earlier songs into the current ethos--Weezer, for instance, released a new video for their Island In The Sun single a few weeks into October, which some people [cite needed] interpreted as being a reaction to the attacks, since the new video was almost obscenely escapist and full of baby animals.

EmpressCallipygos: I wanted to limit this question to immediate and almost inadvertent responses, rather than 9/11 focused material, which is more deliberate and imo less important. My theory is that you can talk about pre-9/11 and post 9/11 music in almost stark terms (at least as starkly as you might talk about pre- or post Elvis or pre/post Smells Like Teen Spirit or God Save The Queen). The top selling album of 2001 altogether was Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory (dropped 10/00). In mid-2002, Korn's much hyped and long-awaited album Untouchables was released to some popular success, but much much less than their last record. After that, nu-metal was essentially gone. This question is to try and understand what kinds of musicians and fans were thinking about during that first year that made such subtle shifts add up to a whole new era.

Thanks again everyone!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:12 AM on August 3, 2009

Artists Against AIDS Worldwide were going to do an ensemble cover of What's Going On originally to raise funds for AIDS research. After 9/11 they split the proceeds between AIDS research and 9/11 support.

Somewhat related: a lot of bands cancelled tours to South-east Asia after 9/11 and the Bali bombings, despite countries like Malaysia and Singapore being very safe and having nothing to do with the attacks. I clearly remember Atomic Kitten cancelling their Malaysian gig citing "fears over world events that started eighteen months ago". EIGHTEEN MONTHS. I remember being very pissed off at tour managers (my favourite singer's concert got cancelled too) - people were touring New York and Russia almost immediately after their terror attacks saying "oh we need to support those cities" but much of modern South East Asia got no love at all over a year after any danger.
posted by divabat at 9:13 AM on August 3, 2009

I had always assumed that Thursday's War All the Time was related to 9/11, especially since the band is from central New Jersey. But evidently they deny it, so who knows. See wikipedia. Relased two years later, September 2003.

"War all the time / In the shadow of the New York skyline / We grew up too fast, falling apart / Like the ashes of American flags"
posted by teragram at 9:15 AM on August 3, 2009

posted by MonkeyToes at 9:16 AM on August 3, 2009

Oooh, wait - I'm thinking of some things that have totally contradicted what I said about artistic responses. Sorry. :-)

I'm just now reading the final books in Stephen King's DARK TOWER series, and the final two were written in the wake of 9/11 -- and King alludes to 9/11 in a couple instances (for example, some characters hide an evil magic doohickey in some storage lockers under the Twin Towers in the year 1999, feeding it enough quarters to keep the locker locked until 2002 -- and as they're leaving, one of the characters has this weird flash of insight of the building falling down and burying it all, which he dismisses as implausible -- "but, still, even if that does happen, it would definitely bury the magic doohickey safely, wouldn't it?")

The pilot of the TV show The Lone Gunmen, which was an X-FILES spinoff, aired in March of 2001. The pilot featured the main characters thwarting a terrorist who planned to fly a plane into the Twin Towers. They ran other episodes over the ensuing summer -- and after 9/11, that pilot was one episode that Chris Carter decided he would never, ever re-run ever again. Understandably so.

I also heard that the original ending of Men In Black II, released in 2002, was supposed to feature alien spaceships coming out of the tops of the Twin Towers and flying into battle. After 9/11, the studio hastily rewrote the ending to write out the Twin Towers.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:19 AM on August 3, 2009

Nitpicking here, but that album was actually released on Sept. 11.

Both Wikipedia and Amazon show the release date as 9/25/01. I'm pretty sure I remember buying it after the fact, as well, but it was a long time ago after all.
posted by padraigin at 9:31 AM on August 3, 2009

It is worth noting that "I am the World Trade Center" changed their name to "I am the World" for some time after Sept. 11. (Coincidentally, the 11th track on their first album is called "September.")

There was also the whole Explosions in the Sky controversy as well. (The album art shows an airplane with the caption "This plane will crash tomorrow." Rumors said the album was released on Sept 10th, but it was actually released two weeks earlier)

Hrm... these don't strictly answer the question, but I thought they may have been slightly relevant. Did not know about the fabolous track. What I remember most was the repackaging of Five for Fighting's "Superman" to be all 9/11-ey.
posted by indiebass at 9:35 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, piggybacking on EmpressC... the original ending to Spiderman, I'd heard, had the Goblin being trapped in a massive web that Spiderman had put between the Twin Towers. Don't know if that's apocryphal or not.
posted by indiebass at 9:37 AM on August 3, 2009

Mystikal - Bouncin Back
alludes to both 9/11 and getting anthraxed! also, this song is awesome.

Missy Elliot released 4 My People (from an album released in early 01 or late 00) as a single - the rave kids here have on red, white and blue & the video version changed "my ecstasy people" to "American people."

PJ Harvey's Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea was her big rock New York City album, released earlier that year.. was her biggest selling and won some big prizes, if that matters. Some of the songs like "Big Exit" are a little eerie in retrospect - she played live here in DC at the 9:30 on 9/10/01 and I guess got stuck in town with her band for a while afterward. I didn't make it to work downtown until after the attacks (but before the towers fell) due to being out late at that show.
posted by citron at 9:41 AM on August 3, 2009

jeez can I be more repetitive and lazy with the description there? ugh. I'm not real wild about the album compared to her other work, it's glossy, radio friendly, but unusual for her in that & being so much about city life.
posted by citron at 9:43 AM on August 3, 2009

I'm no Toby Keith fan but
Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue (The Angry American) was a response to 9-11.
posted by buzzbash at 9:43 AM on August 3, 2009

Nitpicking here, but that album was actually released on Sept. 11.

Both Wikipedia and Amazon show the release date as 9/25/01. I'm pretty sure I remember buying it after the fact, as well, but it was a long time ago after all.

Interesting. I've got a pre-release promo copy that says "Street date: 9/11/2001." But perhaps it got bumped for non-exciting reasons.
posted by jbickers at 9:47 AM on August 3, 2009

"These Colors Don't Run"
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:54 AM on August 3, 2009

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned this yet - U2s "Walk On," while recorded and released on 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind, was released as a single after the attacks. It was originally written as a tribute to Aung San Suu Kyi, but became something of a post-9/11 anthem.
posted by anthom at 10:43 AM on August 3, 2009

A little over a year, but Yellowcard wrote and recorded "Believe" in late 2002/early 2003. The lyrics are clearly about 9/11 and it has a recording of Bloomberg's 2002 speech. The song still makes me angry and brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it, even 8 years later.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 10:55 AM on August 3, 2009

Rufus Wainwright's 11:11 and Paul McCartney's Freedom come to mind.

Definitely check out Griel Marcus's suggestion, made shortly after 9/11, that musicians who don't have anything interesting to say about the attacks should say nothing at all.
posted by Xalf at 11:52 AM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

Turn and Run by Neil Finn was actually written before the attacks (it's on the album One Nil, released 2001; released in the U.S. as One All in 2002), but some of the imagery of the lyrics is pretty eerily prescient. Certainly when I saw him perform it in 2002 and 2003 there was a definite air of it being a September 11 song.

Similarly, Paul Weller's Savages (released 2005) was written expressly regarding the Beslan school massacre in 2004, but I also read in an interview that he acknowledges that there are September 11 undercurrents to the song as well.
posted by scody at 12:13 PM on August 3, 2009

My Google-fu fails me, but I recall The Onion having an article that week 'urging the nation's divas to show restraint'.

Also, Alan Jackson had a hard time telling the difference betweenIraq and Iran. Ugh.
posted by toastchee at 12:19 PM on August 3, 2009

I remember soon after 9/11 Immortal Technique released 'Bin Laden' which seemed to be more a response to the Bush administration than a meditation on the attacks. Still, the song seems to fall within your question. The single was surprising in that both Mos Def and Jadakiss had and continue to have successful mainstream careers, so it wasn't exactly a below the radar group or anything.
posted by thankyoujohnnyfever at 12:31 PM on August 3, 2009

Probably should mention that link is NSFW.
posted by thankyoujohnnyfever at 12:44 PM on August 3, 2009

Bob Dylan's "Love and Theft" was released on 9/11/01 --
HERE is small article about it.
posted by mrmarley at 12:45 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

John Mayer's song Covered in Rain was written after 9/11 as a sequel to an earlier song, City Love. It was first released on Any Given Thursday, a live CD/DVD that was taped one year after 9/11 (on September 12, 2002).
posted by supramarginal at 12:50 PM on August 3, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, the musical styling of ASHCROFT
posted by ijoyner at 12:59 PM on August 3, 2009

I'm sure there are more within that first year (or so). Right?

Plenty of good examples mentioned so far, but there was a good deal of denial going on too. If you have a gander at the top 100 songs from 2002, the only one that's been mentioned was Cher's "Song for the Lonely." One could argue that Creed's "My Sacrifice" and Chad Kroeger's "Hero" maybe benefited from the patriotic upswell despite being...ahem, bland arena rock.

Outside the music arena, the first thing I thought of was the movie Big Trouble, a comedy released April 2002 and based on a novel published September 1999. A climactic scene involves the main characters sneaking a variety of weapons through airport security onto a commercial flight. Awkward.
posted by kittyprecious at 1:46 PM on August 3, 2009

It came out just before 9/11/01, but I believe Alive by P.O.D. was uniquely affected in perception by the terrorist attacks. It became a huge hit in the aftermath of the attacks as a sort of positive, uplifting, defiant anthem for the times.
posted by Balonious Assault at 2:47 PM on August 3, 2009

Aesop Rock's "Nickel Plated Pockets" from the Daylight EP is a cryptic walk through post-911 New York City. One of my favourite songs from one of the best rappers alive.

And on the Spiderman question - the very first teaser trailer for Spiderman had him stringing the bad guy up between the twin towers at the very end. I don't think it was ever necessarily part of the movie.
posted by Gortuk at 2:59 PM on August 3, 2009

Blue Man Group released a video called Exhibit 13, which featured pictures of paper from the towers that had been blown into a neighborhood in Brooklyn. May be more specific than what you're asking for.
posted by joaquim at 3:11 PM on August 3, 2009

Industrial/EBM band Stromkern's album "Armageddon" opens with a song called "Terrorist" that was clearly inspired by 9/11, and the album came out at most a few months after the attacks (I was thinking early 2002, but Discogs says 2001).
posted by neckro23 at 3:13 PM on August 3, 2009

bowie's Heathen
the residents' demons dance alone
a live laurie anderson album recorded a few days laterhas a pretty chilling version of 'o superman'

(here come the planes, they're american planes, made in america...)
posted by kittensofthenight at 3:23 PM on August 3, 2009

of course, the bowie and the residents were both written and recorded before 9/11, but resonate strongly.
posted by kittensofthenight at 3:25 PM on August 3, 2009

Sonic Jihad
posted by mr.marx at 3:46 PM on August 3, 2009

Classical music: John Adams's "On the Transmigration of Souls"
posted by neuron at 5:22 PM on August 3, 2009

Red, White and Black by Thea Gilmore
posted by questionsandanchors at 5:34 PM on August 3, 2009

by 2002 Three 6 Mafia were recording the album w/the song Bin Laden
(eg, 'Bin Laden weed')
posted by citron at 7:32 PM on August 3, 2009

Someone upthread mentioned Rufus Wainwright - Don't forget his single 'Going to a Town.'
posted by thankyoujohnnyfever at 7:51 PM on August 3, 2009

Godspeed You! Black Emperor's "Yanqui U.X.O." was recorded in late 2001 and released in late 2002. The disappearance of the melancholy, sometimes nostalgic samples and the much more political packaging & naming left a lot of reviewers suggesting that the album was partly a reaction to 9/11, and perhaps more importantly to the events it set in motion.
posted by ubersturm at 9:34 PM on August 3, 2009

"Hurry Up Sky" by Jen Chapin
"For Talia, Born 9/11/85" by Vocolot

"Urinetown: The Musical" was written and performed at the NY Fringe Festival and then Off-Broadway in 1999 and 2000, but its Broadway premiere was supposed to take place on 9/11. Certain themes in the show became far more significant and took on a different meaning when performed in the context of a post-9/11 world. The creators cut one line from the script but kept everything else intact, including the scene in the second act where a man falls (is pushed) to his death from a tall building. My personal feeling is that the show was robbed of the 2002 Tony for Best Musical (in favor of bubbly silly "Thoroughly Modern Millie") in part because of how uncomfortable New York audiences were made by the show's political subtext being inadvertently heightened by the daily headlines. That, and New Yorkers desperately wanted to go to the theatre to laugh and find relief, not to watch dystopian drama.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:33 PM on August 3, 2009

Sage Francis: "Makeshift Patriot EP".
posted by soundofsuburbia at 2:25 AM on August 4, 2009

My personal feeling is that the show was robbed of the 2002 Tony for Best Musical (in favor of bubbly silly "Thoroughly Modern Millie") in part because of how uncomfortable New York audiences were made by the show's political subtext being inadvertently heightened by the daily headlines.

I'm not so sure about that -- it did win Best Book and Best Score. And silly and bubbly MILLIE may be, there was probably still a sizeable contingent of theatergoers who thought the whole idea of a musical about pee to be....weird. Which -- let's face it, it was. Gloriously weird and amusingly weird, but....weird nonetheless.

I'm not saying it wasn't robbed, I'm just saying that it probably wasn't the dystopian element that triggered any 9/11 comparisons, I think it was a more straightforward, "yeah, that's....that's about pee. That's just weird."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:00 AM on August 4, 2009

I believe that Live's first single off their Birds of Pray album was "Overcome," released not long before 9/11, and that soon after 9/11 someone made a remix (or different version) that interspersed the song with new broadcasts from the day. I remember downloading that song a few days after the event, but even the original song had a lot of resonance with me at the time.
posted by X-Himy at 8:02 AM on August 4, 2009

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