FolkWorld article by Walkin' T:-)M:

World's Out of Tune (3)

The `War on Terrorism' in Song and Poetry

When the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center crumbled on September 11, 2001, the world really fell out of tune. But quiet the minstrels? No, they were not. One year after the horrible events the War on Terrorism is in full swing. So is songwriting.
(See also `World's Out of Tune Part 1' and `Part 2.')

The List (© John McCutcheon) [Full Lyrics & MP3]

Clear Channel Communication sent a memo to their stations
Asking DJs to take care with songs they play upon the air
As I read this litany one awful thought came clear to me
I didn't make this list though I've worked my whole life long
Twenty five recordings they can't find one lousy song?
It's a slap in the face, an awful disgrace, what do I have to do
To make the grade and not be played like Sinatra and U2?
`How many songs must a folksinger write before they're forever banned?'
`Imagine there's no airplay, it's easy if you try...'
No, I didn't make the list though I'm really not surprised
I guess that means I can resist when they've silenced all these other guys

Always On My Mind

"My reactions to the events of September 11 did not exactly arrange themselves into song form. Even four months later, I didn't feel like writing about it. Like many people, I was wrung out. I kept returning to one thing. That day was rare and beautiful, a perfect day. If not for the unfolding horror, it seemed destined to be forgettable, a lazy, late summer day. Walking around that afternoon, in my neighborhood a safe mile-and-a-half from ground zero, the events seemed not to fit with the blue sky, the balmy sunshine." (Jon Albrink)

Where Were You On September 11th? (© Judy Ann Ross-Minot) [Full Lyrics]

September 11th will always stay on my mind.
It started out that morning like it would be just fine.
Got up, read the paper, ate breakfast, and took a bath.
All seemed quite normal and I said good bye to my cat.
Someone cried down the hall, `You won't believe what's gone on,
jets have flown into the World Trade and the Pentagon'
We were glued to TVs every night from our homes,
in hopes that more would be rescued and not be succumbed.
We saw the pleas; we saw cries of women and men alike
We saw the valor, the pain, the tragedy, and the strife.
This will now be a new chapter in our American history books,
kids will learn about it for years but we know how it looked.

The Dying Firefighter (© David Rovics) [Full Lyrics]

I saw the plane hit the building, the flames and the billowing smoke
I saw the glass, paper, metal and stone, everything shattered and broke
I was there with my people, Engine Company 24
We rushed into the building, got as far as the 35th floor
I don't believe in politics, I believe in the human race
I believe in the goodness of people, in New York or some far-away place
People may call me a brave man, and this may very well be
But the firefighters of Kabul are just as brave men as me

We (© Duke Burton) [Full Lyrics]

It feels like it happened yesterday, has it already been a year?
We can still hear all the voices crying out in their horror and their fear.
We can still see the look of disbelief on their faces as they fled,
We still feel the sorrow of the families for their missing and their dead.
We also know in our hearts life will never be normal again.
We know this enemy's intentions, just not where or when.
We know madmen hide among us and can take on any form.
We have seen them strike our nation, like lightning from a storm.
We had only before seen madness like this on 12/7/41,
We, like then, have only just begun.
We shall rise up from the ruins and punish these evil men,
We will put our children to bed at night and whisper `Never again.'

Reality Defies Poetry

"While reading the New York Times, I came upon an article where Jack [Hardy] as interviewed. He was talking about how `silenced' he felt as an artist due to the events. He said it was the first time in his life he'd experienced writer's bloc. As a songwriter, I had been profoundly humbled as well and related to the things he was saying. Next thing I knew, I was writing '`o Song,' a song about that feeling, as opposed to a political song, or a human-interest story. I just didn't have the stomach to approach anything like that. The acrid stench of downtown was still heavy in the air (it lasted well into December), and that was something I don't think anyone who was in New York at the time will ever forget. For me, the memory of that smell is as palpable as the memory of the day itself. It just left you speechless." (Richard Julian)

No Song (© Richard Julian) [Full Lyrics & MP3]

The stark reality defies poetry, it mocks this melody
As sure as time passes by, this pall will lift, and singers will try
But they will fail and their songs will lie
There is no song, no, not this time
No scheming rhyme, not this time

God Got Pissed

"Like all world citizens I had - and continue to have - lots of questions ... Many are based on things I know all too well. I know the weaponry we have at our disposal. I know the inclination to resort to this `terrible swift sword' when we feel powerless to truly solve complex problems. I know the ability of those in power to convince the population that nonviolence is futile and that peace is unpatriotic. I know the ability of grief to look to revenge for some solace. And I know the cycle of violence in which our world is trapped ... Yes, we can `bomb Afghanistan into the Stone Age' ... but will we be safer for it? We create a martyr, rally forces behind his memory and wait for the next retaliation. Innocent civilians to pay for innocent civilians. An eye for an eye ... until the whole world is blind ... When I'm planning out a concert I tend to think backwards. Where do I want the audience to be when the final curtain falls? ... So I have to wonder: where do we want the world to be at the end of this `War on Terrorism?' Does anyone really believe that the roots of terrorism rest in individuals? That death or fear of death will stem the tide? What are we willing to sacrifice - who are we willing to sacrifice - to make unknown and unnamed individuals pay for this terrible crime. And, in the end, will we have accomplished our goal? Like in the `War on Drugs?' Or the `War on Poverty?' There's a lot of hijacked religious rhetoric being tossed around these days. From the Falwell/Robertson accusations of liberal/gay/feminist/pro-choice responsibility for the attacks ... to the righteous anger of the White House. But I can't help but being reminded of the radical charge of Christianity: `Love your enemy.' Not a lot of room for interpretation there. I tend to take it pretty literally ... But you don't have to be Gandhi to believe that a strictly military effort to end terrorism is like weeding your garden by cutting off the tops of the intruding plants. The root system survives and you're gonna be back there weeding again and again and again." (John McCutcheon)

Talking Pat & Jerry Blues (© John McCutcheon) [Full Lyrics & MP3]

On September 11th the awful news came
Our tears and our innocence fell like rain
Two television preachers got it down
In Virginia Beach and Lynchburg town
Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson
Let us all in on why the deed was done
`It was pro-choice folks that caused that day
Feminists, liberals and, of course, the gays'
Jerry and Pat said `God got pissed
Hijacked some planes know the rest'
Out of step with your religions and full of fear
Fundamentalist fanatics who live right here.

Not In My Name (© John McCutcheon) [Full Lyrics & MP3]

You see the plane in the distance, you see the flame in the sky
See the young ones running for cover, see the old ones wondering why
They tell us that the world is a dangerous place, we live in a terrible time
But in Hiroshima, New York or in Baghdad it's the innocent who die for the crime
Through the ages I have watched all your holy wars, your jihads, your crusades
I have been used as inspiration, I've been used as an excuse for the murder and the misery you've made
I thought I made it clear in the Bible, in the Torah and in the Koran
What is it in my teaching about loving your enemies that you people don't understand?

The Next Attack Is Coming

"At the time of writing, newspapers are reporting that the Bush administration currently has clear plans for using nuclear weapons against seven different countries ... The Bush administration wants Blair to commit 25,000 ground troops to a military assault on Iraq ... Madeleine Allbright, US secretary of state, accepted publicly the figure of half a million children in Iraq having been killed as a result of US led sanctions. This was an `acceptable price to pay' ... The west has been attacking Afghanistan for months, but militarily the indications are that the majority of Bush's identified targets are so far unaccounted for, the resistance to foreign invasion continues ... and the US is treating the prisoners it has taken with an appalling disregard for human rights. What the bombing offensive against Afghanistan has achieved is the murdering of more people than the hijackings of September 11th ... There is no such thing as a smart bomb. The euphemism `collateral damage' just means dead civilians ... The fact is that US foreign policy has deliberately supported military / terrorist activities that have murdered thousands of civilians ... The Bush administration is completely in the pocket of American capital's interests - from the withdrawal from the Kyoto agreement to the recently declared intention to impose steel tariffs. Dick Cheney, current vice president, is an ex CEO of Haliburton Oil. Halliburton oil won a £30 million contract from Turkmenistan in 1997 to drill for oil in the Caspian Sea - where $4 trillion worth of reserves are estimated to be buried. Guess which is the most profitable and strategic way for that oil to be exported?
   a) through Boston,
   b) through Bournemouth,
   c) through Afghanistan."
(Robb Johnson)

"George W. Bush has certainly been a great inspiration, but the general themes of my songs have not changed, only the details ... There was suffering and resistance before September 11th and the suffering and the resistance continues. ... It might be said that the main theme that I keep on coming back to is terrorism. Sometimes to the terrorism of small groups of fanatics, but much moreso to the incomparably more deadly and widespread phenomenon called state terrorism. The terrorism of aiding fascist dictatorships and apartheid states. The terrorism not just of one, two or four planes, but of an air force. The millions dead from bombs and sanctions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, and so many other places. The world held hostage by the IMF. The very air, water, and soil destroyed by the capitalist monolith that lies behind all of these overt and covert forms of terrorism. Before and after September 11th, long before George W. Bush was born, the United States Government has been the leading sponsor of terrorism worldwide ... What I seek to do here ... is ... to add one more voice of dissent against Pax Americana. And hopefully, to play my small part in finding a way out of the madness, and into an entirely different world." (David Rovics)

The Village Where Nothing Happened (© David Rovics) [Full Lyrics & MP3, Background]

The Army commander spoke to the media, he said, `We are a nation of laws
We do not target civilians and we only bomb with cause'
And he said as he looked into the camera with a cold, bone-chilling stare
`As for the village of Kama Ado, nothing happened there'
In the village where nothing happened, nobody knew
That this place would be changed forever by an American B-52
In the village where nothing happened, the houses collapsed in the morn
Not one terrorist died there, but maybe some were born.

Bomb Ourselves (© David Rovics) [Full Lyrics & MP3]

The President got on TV and there was nary a dry eye,
He said he loved his country and mom and apple pie
He said we'd send our bombers to deal with rogue states
And all those evil people would have to meet their fates
I guess we're gonna have to bomb Columbus, Georgia, home of the infamous SOA
'Cause they train the death squads of Colombia who commit a massacre every day
I guess we're gonna have to bomb Miami, with all those insurgents running loose
Killing Cubans at the Bay of Pigs and elsewhere, they say they've got some kind of excuse
I guess we're gonna have to bomb Washington, DC, 'cause terrorists are lurking all around
Sending soldiers, guns and money wherever death squads and dictators may be found
So let's appreciate the situation, take your Orwell off the shelves
If we are to listen to our President then we're going to have to bomb ourselves

The Next Attack (© David Rovics) [Full Lyrics]

The next attack is coming, said the CEO
So we need to drill for oil and build more pipelines, don“t you know
If these Arabs do not like it and we need the military here
The American people will support us, whether out of greed or fear
The next attack is coming, I heard an Afghan child say
My family was killed by a plane the other day
And when I grow up, I will get them back
So I say beware, America, here comes the next attack
The next attack is coming, said Cheney to his men
And if it doesn“t, we can make one happen again
Every war we“ve ever been in, was started with a lie
And this war is good business, so today“s the day for you to die

"Inspiring cross-cultural understanding and supporting the music of the little people has just got more important than ever ... This September, an obese New York oaf being interviewed ... reckoned that the solution was to level the whole of the Middle East. George Bush and his gang of religious fundamentalists, oil barons, weapons manufacturers and corrupt business chiefs have already taken their eyes for eyes and teeth for teeth from innocent Afghan civilians. Now they are pressing to do the same in Iraq as part of his thinly disguised campaign to pay back his cronies and get re-elected. Against such rogue state obscenity ... any hopes for music to play a part in countering all this jingoism would seem increasingly futile. Our friends in the North American Folk Alliance have been documenting the lengths the Bush regime have been going to in order to keep foreign musicians out of their country ... They've added to an already inefficient, bureaucratic visa system by vastly extending the period that applications take and routinely refusing legitimate ones ... This is not only harming the musicians: other big losers are the hard working American promoters ... and record companies operating in this field, and ultimately the US public and a section of their economy. Stories of tour and event cancellations over there are now very commonplace ... We'd like to encourage US contacts to take up this cause with theirs. After all, if musical and cultural exchanges can help kill American xenophobia, we might yet make a small contribution to preventing WW3." (Ian Anderson)

A Future In This Imperfect Place

"Music, I was reminded by individuals again and again, is more than a diversion. It is a place within which we can ponder the unthinkable, feel the untouchable, believe the impossible. We are able to say things for which our language has no words. Things that we would never allow ourselves to say...especially about ourselves." (John McCutcheon)

"What happened that September morning can't be healed with songs, but songs will try, and maybe one or two will linger long enough to serve as a warning or a comfort years from now. That's what songs are for." (Tim Robinson)

"It seemed that we needed a sort of prayer to keep us going, not a religious one, but a personal one to remind us of where we are and why." (Amy Marie Keller)

Another Chance (© L.J. Kopco) [Full Lyrics]

Someday when you are older, you'll hear of the tragic way,
So many innocent lives were taken on one unsuspecting September day.
You were not even born yet, you were growing safe within.
As I watched the Towers crumble, I cried for the world you'd soon be in.
Yet into this world of uncertainty, you took your first breath.
Such a miracle of life, amongst the terror and death.
One look at your innocence, your perfect little face.
I could see only a bright future, in this imperfect place.
To the perfect world we all dream of, and hope for you and all we know.
And that dream remains alive, each day I watch you grow.

Songs and tributes: "Against Terror", "All Fall Down", "All Hearts to Strike", "America At War", "American Heroes (9-11-01)", "American Hero's (Eye of the Storm)", "Americans Loved & Lost", "An American Vigil", "Americas Resolve", "America, We Cry With You", "Anti-War Song", "Attention Taliban!", "Back to Peace", "Bad Man", "Banana Boat Song", "Battle Hymn", "Beat - Osama Bin Laden", "The Beauty of the Day", "Been Around", "Be Proud", "Be Strong", "The Bin Laden Boat Song", "Bomb Ourselves", "Boxcutters and Knives", "Can't Cry Hard Enough", "The City", "Communists", "The Dance", "Dead or Alive", "Desert Man - Taliban Osama Bin Laden", "Dreaming In Color", "Drop Bombs On The Taliban", "The Dying Firefighter", "Earthquake 911", "The Firehouse", "The Fireman Song (The Ballad of Mike Moran)", "Fixin' to Die in Afghanistan", "Follow the Light", "For the Rest of My Life", "Freedom", "Freedom Will Survive", "Gary Owen Y2K2", "Give Him Up Taliban", "God Bless America (9-11-2001 Tragedy)", "God Will Prevail", "Ground Zero", "Ground Zero Nine Eleven", "Hang A Flag In The Window", "Have Hope", "A Heartbeat Away", "Heaven Knows", "Hero", "Heroes for Liberty", "How Will I Get Home", "I Have Seen The Enemy", "Infidel", "In Memorium, September 11th 2001", "In Memory", "In November", "In the Telling", "It Hit Home", "I Will Remember You", "Judgement Day (Message for Bin Laden)", "Knockin On Heaven's Door", "Lead Me Down", "Let's Roll", "Let's Roll America", "Let's Try Again", "The List", "Little Did She Know", "Louisa, From Her Window", "Message to Osama", "Miss You", "Never Forget", "The Next Attack is Coming", "No Song", "Not In My Name", "Ohhhh Taliban", "One More Day", "Only God Knows Why", "Open Invitation", "Osama Die ... So We Can All Go Home", "Our Heroes Are Crying", "Out of Tune", "Peace at Last", "Prayer for the Children", "Save the World", "September Elegy", "September 11, 2001", "Side by Side", "The Skyline", "Snapshots", "Spirit of America", "Spoonfed", "Stand By You", "Stand Up for the USA", "Stop the War", "Summertime #2", "Taliban", "The Taliban Can", "Taliban Slam", "Taliban Two-Step", "Talking Pat & Jerry Blues", "This is our Place", "Today", "Together We Will Stand", "Twin Towers (Song For America)", "The Walls", "Uncle Sam", "United For A Day", "Universal Love", "Untitled", "The Village Where Nothing Happened", "Wanted - Dead or Alive", "We are one, America", "A Well Dressed Man", "We're Americans", "We're Still Standing", "We Will Not Forget", "What More Can I Give?", "What's Going On", "What the Demons Did", "When Freedom Reigns", "When Johnny comes Marching Home", "When Mohammed Came to the Mountain", "When the Sun Comes Around", "World of Hate", "World Trade Center", "World War 3" "WTC", "WTC Attack - Hope Conquers Terror", "WTC Attack - Who Will Rescue the Rescuers?", "WTC Attack - Justice", "WTC Tribute", "WTC 911", "Yesterday", "You Never Know", "3 Minutes' Silence", "11 September 2001", "911", "911", "911", "911 for Peace", "1000 Angels".

"The Concert for New York City", "God Bless America", "United Synthpop Artists Tribute to America", "MP3 Artists World Trade Center Relief Fund", "Vigil N.Y. Songs", More remixes at

Poems: "A Fateful Day - Flight 175", "America", "America", "America Cries", "America Let's Roll", "America Lives On", "American Angels", "America's Angels", "Another Chance", "Attack", "The Binch", "Clouded Sky", "The Day America Cried", "The Day the Eagle Died", "The Day Lady Liberty Cried", "Down They Came", "The Evolution of Mankind", "Fire in the Sky", "Flight 93", "Freedom", "Freedom's Cost", "Heavy Heart", "Heroes of Flight 93", "A Heroes Tragedy", "I am the Flag", "Innocence Lost", "In the Telling", "Irony", "The Lady", "The Lady Cried", "Lady Liberty", "May the Light Shine", "My Daddy's Flag", "Nations Heroes", "On Monday", "Overcome", "The Pledge of Resistance", "Remember", "Remembering", "September", "September 11, 2001", "A Solitary Candle", "Somewhere Above the Clouds", "Spirit of a Nation", "The Terror of Flight 93", "Thank You", "They Live On", "Thoughts", "Through the Eyes of a Child", "Towers of Angels", "Tribute to the Fallen", "A Tribute to the New York City Firefighters", "Tuesday Eagle", "Twas the Night Before Ramadan" "Untitled", "Untitled", "Vengeance or Justice", "We", "We the People", "We the People", "We Will Always Be", "What If America Were to Stop", "Where Was God?", "Where Were You on September 11th?", "Why".

Song lyrics and poems compiled at `911song.htm.'

See also World Out of Tune Part 1 and Part 2.

Back to the content of FolkWorld Features
To the content of FolkWorld No. 24

© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 12/2002

All material published in FolkWorld is © The Author via FolkWorld. Storage for private use is allowed and welcome. Reviews and extracts of up to 200 words may be freely quoted and reproduced, if source and author are acknowledged. For any other reproduction please ask the Editors for permission. Although any external links from FolkWorld are chosen with greatest care, FolkWorld and its editors do not take any responsibility for the content of the linked external websites.

FolkWorld - Home of European Music
FolkWorld Home
Layout & Idea of FolkWorld © The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld