Sunday, September 11, 2011

When Music Really Matters

This bright and beautiful fall day is eerily like that Tuesday morning ten years go, both here and, as far as I can tell, in New York too. We all have our own vivid, awful memories of the events of that day. We remember where we were and what we were doing the moment we heard the news. With ambivalent thanks to television, a great many of us watched in disbelief, then horror, as it happened, even as we also witnessed incredible acts of courage and kindness.

Perhaps inevitably, 9/11 inspired a great many songs. Some were angry and jingoistic ("Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" or "Welcome to Hell"), many others were mournful and reflective (Leonard Cohen's "On This Day" and "When New York Had Her Heart Broke" by John Hiatt). Not all of the 9/11 songbook is good, but almost all of it is cathartic to a degree.  It could be because my wife's father, brother and brother-in-law are all fire fighters, but for me, Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising" best shows the undeniable power of music to let us grieve at the same time it heals our wounds.  It reminds me time and again why music really does matter; why we need it. There's simply nothing I can say, nor anyone else through garden variety prose, that comes close to this:

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