One year later, diverse musical minds talk about where they were then, and where they are now:
I took my kids to Ground Zero in July. I hadn't gone before. We just walked out onto that public-viewing platform. What's very moving down there are the photographs and memorials. All the smiling faces. Pictures of people with their families on a sunny afternoon in the yard. People in their uniforms. They're a reminder of the life that's gone. I found that sight to be deeply, deeply moving. Just the sense of sacrifice. Especially when you look at the dirty greed and selfishness that's in the news right now -- it's shameful, criminals walking away scot-free. I think one of the things that shocked people was the size of the sacrifice made on that day. There's nothing that I think could prepare people -- I mean, whatever they're paying you to be a fireman or a policeman, they're not paying you that. And that goes to some central point about how people experience their duty, their place in the world, their connection to the people alongside themselves and to complete strangers. If you look at the past twenty years, people might say, "Oh, that's disappeared from America." But if you look closely, it's there every day. And it casts a great contrast to what you see going on at the corporate level right now, and the acquiescence of the current administration, the willingness to look the other way.
The first couple of months, people were more political and a little more compassionate; there was a sense of community and camaraderie. That's been replaced now by jingoistic patriotism and fear. What I found most offensive after September 11th were people on the extreme right and the extreme left who used what happened as a way to further their own ideology. The left were blaming it on U.S. hegemony, while the right said it was because we were morally lax. The result is that I have become a moderate for the rest of my life. The terrorists were extremists.
It's a huge loss, and I think it'll probably take a good set of years for people to grieve it properly. No matter what has been going on in Ireland, there's never been anything on that scale. And, for us as Irish people, we were a country at war until America came and taught us peace, in a lot of ways. If someone hurt my family I would probably want to fucking hurt them as well, but maybe the lesson to come out of this is peace, rather than war. That's what America has taught Ireland -- and it would be nice if it could come to that conclusion about itself.
I was there, in Newark, about a mile away from the Twin Towers, and the plane flew right over my head. I haven't had any really, really bad nightmares, but I've had a couple. I'm still in shock at what's happened. It's amazing that the world has recovered. I was watching a special on it last night, on George Bush and how he handled it. He handled it really well. I do realize I'm a kid, but I can understand.
Chris Martin, Coldplay:
It made us feel incredibly blessed that the biggest thing in our lives to worry about is whether our bass drum is too loud or something. We really live inside of an amazing little bubble where we can be obsessed with records. We're not exploited by anyone and we're not trampled on by anyone. So on the one hand it made us feel incredibly blessed, and on the other hand it gave us an added sense of urgency, because you never know what's going to happen.
Stone Gossard, Pearl Jam:
Certainly 9/11 got every single person in this country's attention. Everyone went "Oh, wow, the earth isn't exactly the way I thought it was." There are forces out there that are out of our control, or there are forces out there that are at odds with what would be our natural state of being. Who doesn't have that in the back of their mind? Everyone's affected by it . . . There's no obvious reference to it on the Pearl Jam record. Of course there'll be some element of it entering the songwriting. But to write songs about 9/11 seems like the exact opposite tact most artists would go, because it's so obvious and so overly examined.
Chris Robinson, Black Crowes:
It made it easier for me to stick by the things that are important to me -- to make music that is engaging and emotional and retains its integrity. Afterward, I kind of looked at the hype and the money and the overblown culture that we live in -- I just see so much information not being distributed culturally about who we are and what we feel -- and it made me dig deeper into the things that motivate me to be an artist. It made it easier to be open and not edit myself, not to hind behind any pretense.
Adam Yauch, Beastie Boys:
At first, people were shocked and scared and looking for a way to help those who had suffered, and mourn those we had lost. Then the fear changed to anger and hate and a call for revenge. We have the fastest planes and the biggest bombs, but in this modern age none of these things necessarily protect us. Bush would love to see the "war on terror" continue and expand because it will increase the defense budget and take attention away from our diminished economy. But we need to look very carefully before flexing U.S. muscle overseas. A better way to achieve security is to have fewer enemies.
I think I'm still in shock. It's a very sad thing that happened, and we have to have some time to heal. Even if you're blocking it and sort of going ahead with your daily life, we are all really affected by what happened. Initially all of us were thinking, "Are we going to leave town?" That was the first week's reaction. But you can't just keep running away from it. So we're here.
David Draiman, Disturbed:
I think President Bush did one of the most irresponsible things I've ever seen a president do when his response to the catastrophes was to tell the American people to go shopping: Don't take the moment to reflect on what's happened --let's make sure the economy keeps going, go out and shop. Make sure you buy yourself an American flag T-shirt so you can feel patriotic. Meanwhile, hate crimes went up right after 9/11 by a staggering percentage. Where's the patriotism in that?
Krist Novoselic, Nirvana/Eyes Adrift:
I haven't really changed the way I live much since 9/11, but I do travel a lot lighter. For a while I was travelling with a Zip drive for my computer, but everywhere I went, airport security would detain me to check it. Several times I'd be taken away to a little security office where they'd fully examine it and then they'd release me. It became a hassle, but it's a necessary hassle. I do tend to leave the Zip drive at home now.
My fears are that it looks like the commercialization of the remembrance of September 11th is going to get totally out of hand. The respectful thing is a quiet commemoration, but when I see airlines running 9/11 specials, it really infuriates me. I'm going to spend a quiet day and go on with my life.
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