Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of 9/11. After Scott and I had spent the anniversary away from NYC for the first time last year, we decided we wanted to be back in New York in time for it this year.
Having experienced 9/11 in New York (we were still at home in Brooklyn when it happened), it is a part of our history, it is part of who we are – so it is important to me to feel connected to it. It’s quite emotional and personal. I was thinking of posting a song today that would somehow express some of the sadness, anxiety and confusion.
There have been countless interviews on the radio in the last few days and some great musical contribute shows. There are plenty of songs to pick from: Leonard Cohen (“Hallelujah”), Bruce Springsteen (“The Rising”), the powerful “Sounds of Silence” that Paul Simon played at the memorial yesterday… so much from Joy Division or White Lies… wasn’t there that Arcade Fire song? Then there’s the Beastie Boys song I posted two years ago: “An Open Letter To New York”.
But because today is September 12th and because it’s been 10 years and because last night brought a wonderful conversation with Scott and our friend Kyra, who had been at the WTC back then – a conversation that focused on that (short) time of love, compassion, connectedness and community we experienced then, I decided to share a different song.
Do you remember when people in Berlin (in a call-back to JFK’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” said “we are New Yorkers), do you remember when Le Monde called Guiliani “The Mayor of the world”, which made us in New York feel like somehow we were all part of the same city, the same country? Do you remember when people in the city didn’t honk their horns, when we waved at firefighters and we looked at each other with open faces, without hate – but with the thought: we’ve all been through a hurt together? Of course, not everyone’s pain was the same. I can’t fathom what it would have been to lose a loved one. I was lucky. My people were lucky.
And yes, some people wanted revenge – wanted blood. But I remember a time when the shock of how hateful this attack had been and the despair of trying to imagine how horrible that hour (or just minutes) must have been to all trapped in those buildings and on those airplanes and the realization that tomorrow is no longer predictable, that the worst things can happen when you wake up in the morning… when all that made us say: no more violence, no more hate, no more killing – let’s be kind and embrace each other with all our differences as long as we’re here. In the end we are all people who deserve to live and be loved.
The song that symbolizes some of those sentiments to me is “Side” by Travis – especially because we went to see them on October 3, 2001 play at Radio City Music Hall. It’s the German National Holiday, it’s the day I found out 102 Germans had died during the attack, it was the day Kyra and I went down to the site for the first time. We took pictures. I haven’t looked at them yet. There was still smoke, wasn’t there?
It was the first show Scott and I attended, the first show many people probably attended (most shows were cancelled during those days). The first time we were in a room with thousands of people, which was quite unnerving during the days of Anthrax scares and the general claustrophobia that had spread since people died being trapped.
Travis singer Fran Healy was so gracious, aware and compassionate as he addressed the audience and gave each song a meaningful dedication. I will never forget what a gift that evening was. April Long wrote a perfect description of that show for NME.
It is another song Travis played that night that captures the sadness of the time and the images and feelings that are forever burnt in our minds: “Slide Show”