9/11 and Songs That Heal


Human beings are storytellers. We have painted on cave walls, carved totem poles, hired town criers, acted out plays, sang songs, watched movies, and searched Google in our never-ending quest for stories.

In the dark days after September 11, 2001, music was a powerful mirror for our emotions. These are a few of the songs that moved me then, and continue to move me a decade later.

“Overcome” by Live

“Overcome” by Live was written months before 9/11, but it became an anthem for the moment thanks to its deep lyrics and moving message. The band recorded a video in tribute to the first responders, and donated proceeds from the song’s sale to charities that benefit the victims of the attack.


“Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” by Alan Jackson

Country music fans found solace in a song by Alan Jackson released a few months later. Alan’s “Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning” captured our collective shock at what we saw. In a laid back way, Alan recognizes that we all stood still that day.



“The Rising” by Bruce Springsteen

For  me, personally, the most powerful musical moment came when Bruce Springsteen revealed “The Rising”. It is sung from the point-of-view of a firefighter climbing the stairs of the World Trade Center with a “half mile of line” on his shoulder and a “sixty pound stone” on his back. When I first saw Bruce and the E Street Band perform the song live amidst a stage of bright white lights, I was moved to tears.



I still can’t listen to that song without being touched by the imagery of an innocent firefighter leaving for work one morning without any idea of the horror about to be encountered, and never to return home.

Has any other song so eloquently captured both the profound sadness and inspiring resilience that we all felt at that point?  The song was at once a token of gratitude to those who perished as well as a call to rise above the rubble and rebuild our lives.

Jeffery Symynkywicz said it well when he called ”The Rising” ”a national Good Friday experience if ever there was one.”

And this weekend, there is this song being played at radio stations around the world. It is a remix of the song “Heaven” by DJ Sammy that tracks the decade of a young girl growing up longing for the father she lost in 9/11. It was created by the team at KLUC radio in Las Vegas.

Yes, music is a wonderously powerful storytelling tool. It helped capture emotions and heal wounds after a tragic event. It moves us to dance and sing and laugh and cry.

We humans are desperate to hear amazing stories.

So instead of telling us about your discount items and free parking and empty advertising BS, tell us a story.

Tell us your story.



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Alan Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Live, Uncategorized 21 Comments