Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: London, UK
Local Time: 10:16 AM
I just read this from atU2.com and its......
I felt I ought to mention it here, its written by Kevin Byrne. I hope he wont mind me pasting it here.....
One comment.....its a nice reminder of how much life means to us now since Sept 11th and that we must not let the bastards grind us all down.....peace and love
I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing
@U2, October 23, 2001
'It was a beautiful day...'
-- U2, "Beautiful Day"
As far as lyrics go, that's the most honest and direct sentiment I can call to mind when asked to describe what I was thinking at 8:00 a.m. on September 11th.
I was at home, in bed, looking out the window. I remember lying there, my face half in the ray of light, thinking with a drowsy smile how I hadn't seen such a day in the longest time.
I'm not the only one who was staring at the sun that day to think the same. Others I know, a number of whom were there, describe it much the same.
The sky was a robin's egg blue. The canyons of Manhattan, unlike the canyons of the song, were unbroken by clouds. The air smelled fresh, birds were on wing, and even the most snarled traffic jam seemed to carry a happy hum.
It was a day plucked out of my best childhood memory, and I (like many others) can still picture it.
Sadly, at 8:46 a.m., that same lyric was suddenly transformed into a grim slugline for an all-too-vivid series of snapshots still frozen in my head.
It was then that all hell broke loose high above Manhattan.
It was then the world changed forever.
'I can't believe the news today
I can't close my eyes and make it go away...'
-- U2, 'Sunday Bloody Sunday'
On September 12, a lyric about a massacre in Northern Ireland summed up the worst and most incomprehensible thing about the day before, on a morning when a gang of sick, soulless butchers hijacked God and claimed his name to carry out a pair of murderous aerial stunts high above my city of birth.
Even now, the still-smoking wake of those sharklike sky assaults seems too wide in scope to comprehend.
No one imagined this could ever happen here. Not my friends at work, not my wife, not my family. No human could ever have conceived such well-orchestrated madness, let alone brought it to reality.
And yet we saw it.
It was on the television all day, the heartless, harrowing helplessness of it all.
The final, sickening turn of both planes. The exploding glass and steel. The fire and smoke. The plummeting bodies. The impossibly monstrous debris cloud, spreading and spreading and spreading. The endless waiting for a good word, for survivors, all the while knowing there would be too few.
It's been more than a month since that nightmare, more than a month since thousands went missing, among them five of my friends who are now long-presumed dead in the rubble.
Yet they are only five among thousands, and given that I am only one among many without an answer or explanation as to why, I am not so special in that regard.
And for days, I continued to ask the same, sad rhetorical question, much like everyone else: Will things ever be the same?
'Looking for to save my, save my soul
Looking in the places where no flowers grow
Looking for to fill that God shaped hole...'
-- U2, 'Mofo'
The blackest humor of such a query is how it inevitably spawns smaller, more desperate queries, the ones which always seem to flourish best in times of fear and loathing.
These were the sort of questions that pinballed around my head for days:
Could I ever see a skyscraper and not feel the inadvertent urge to get as far away as possible?
Could I hear the oceanic engine rush of a low-flying jet plane and not for an instant doubt its flight path as true and just?
Could I see the red blur of a racing fire truck and not think of three still-missing friends?
Could I not see a sky blue day and not think about how good the world had once been?
Could I ever listen to 'Beautiful Day' by U2 again and not think about how the cloudless clime of that now-horrid morning?
Amazingly, and perhaps foolishly, I found myself desperately searching for answers...even though I knew full well none would satisfy me.
'I try to sing this song now
I try to stand up but I can't find my feet...'
-- U2, 'Gloria'
I became convinced my one last hope was to abandon rational thought, and turn to the one thing which throughout my life helped sustain me in times of real trouble: music.
Sadly, I even found myself still feeling that --much like everyone and everything else left standing in the immediacy of the nightmare-it was all so insignificant and inappropriate.
I should point out that we have no one to blame for feeling this way.
The horror of the day, burned too fast and forever into our brains like a scorched cross, all but obliterated the most lingering rationale and depth of good feeling about the world.
This extended to the best things about ourselves and our culture.
In the immediate aftermath, the act of listening or singing a tune which carried any sense of happiness, rebelliousness, bravado or sensuality seemed almost in poor taste.
During the weeks that followed, it became all too painfully apparent --especially in the newspapers and on television-- that I was not the only one feeling sensitive about the subject.
'When you look at the world
What is it that you see?
People find all kinds of things
That bring them to their knees...'
-- U2, 'When I Look At The World'
It all seemed to start with the pictures.
Any advertisement or photo that bore an image of the World Trade Center (as it once stood) was suddenly gone or quietly taken down, without argument.
All Hollywood films dealing with topics related to terrorism, violence, or bearing footage of the Twin Towers were taken out of circulation or yanked from pending release.
TV networks made last-minute alterations to their programming to replace action films like 'Die Hard,' 'The Siege,' 'Passenger 57,' and 'Executive Decision' in their weekly listings with kindler, gentler fare.
Radio stations altered playlists of songs, instructing disc jockeys to steer clear of certain tracks with certain titles and/or lyrical content out of fear it might easily upset listeners still cowering in the shadowy aftermath of the attacks.
Artists and musicians either promoting or touring questioned whether they should ditch their pitches and/or change their tunes, both literally and figuratively, in favor of a collective, newfound public respect and sympathy for the fallen.
Folks working for @U2 also posed a potential topic to address the subject: Should a band like U2, having returned to America for the third and final leg of its global tour, reconfigure its setlist to suit the more sensitive climate in the wake of the terror attacks?
'Jesus, Jesus help me
I'm alone in this world
And a fucked up world it is too...'
-- U2, 'Wake Up Dead Man'
After volunteering to address the issue, I pondered the question for a day or so. Since I initially agreed with all the aforementioned precautions I read about and saw on TV (and knowing full well I'd be seeing U2 in NYC on October 24th)...I drew up a list of songs I thought would be best left unplayed in the wake of the attacks.
What I had nixed, at first, seemed to make sense: 'Bullet The Blue Sky' (too much touchy F word usage -- fear, fire, flames, fighter planes), 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' (the stanza about the 'bodies strewn across a dead-end street' hit way too close to home), 'The Fly' (blame it on that 'falling from the sky' line), 'Gone' (well, for obvious reasons)...
At the same time, I found myself drawing up another list of songs I WANTED to hear played at the upcoming NYC show, ones which I felt had the potential to give it the kind of uplift fans so desperately needed in the wake of such a tragedy: 'A Sort of Homecoming,' 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For,' 'Angel Of Harlem', 'Peace On Earth,' 'Love Rescue Me'...
As the list of songs grew, I tried to further rationalize my choices based on what happened on September 11th: the country was teetering on the brink of war. We needed to be wary of our feelings. We needed to properly express ourselves with dignity and with pride, for now was not the time to be weak.
Then part of me wondered: how does any of this help us cope with what happened?
'You gotta stand up straight
Carry your own weight
These tears are going nowhere, baby...'
-- U2, 'Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of'
In the wake of this far-too-chilling reality, it suddenly became both depressing and surreal for me to be putting so earnest an effort into drafting such a setlist...especially one which would leave out songs that, prior to September 11th, I would have been perfectly happy to hear played live.
My depression deepened as I continued my everyday television work ... and noted with discouragement how, at a time when the leadership called on its citizens to stand united and publicly support their country, the news industry seemed intent on getting us to scramble for shelter.
It was as if they (like me) thought we were too emotionally fragile to face our fear or cope with such massive and devastating losses.
Truth be told, the news isn't to blame. Music lyrics aren't to blame. Nor are movies nor television talk show hosts nor Nostradamus nor other presidential administrations.
It is the act of terrorists that left our emotional nerves raw. They are the ones to blame. Those who emulate them are the ones to blame. Those who hide them are the ones to blame.
By that same token, we can't rely on diplomats or disc jockeys to protect us or to second guess our own sentiments or judgements. It is bad enough that we, as a society, were forced to doubt ourselves so deeply in the space of a day.
It is far worse to realize that destructive forces put us in so desperate a place.
What we should be doing is turning to the artists we love and embracing them, and letting the inspiration contained in those same creative mediums usher forth our outrage. It is only in that catharsis we can acknowledge the depth of our pain and possibly use it as a force for good, for inspiration, in the future.
'Love, lift me up out of these blues
Won't you tell me something true
I believe in you.'
-- U2, 'Elevation'
There is a mantra I've kept for myself since September 11th.
These may be days full of doubt, but I know this much is true: I still believe in music.
That's something I've come to realize about myself over the years: music sustains me. It gets my heart pumping, keeps me alive. It lets me fall in love over and over again. It makes me feel healthy, happy, and in touch with the spirit of my youth.
When I heard my first U2 song, it turned an ordinary highway drive into the most worthwhile speeding ticket I ever got, and I wouldn't trade the memory of that highway run for anything in the world.
Since then, U2 and countless other artists have filled up the emotional and spiritual soundtrack of my life in ways that mere words can't express.
But in the wake of September 11th, that joyous music has run contrary to some of the ugliest feelings I've ever had in my life.
I feel as if my normally quiet love of music is clashing against a desire to say something of shocking significance, to express that which has filled me with such terrible rage.
The most sickening part may be that I want both kindness and compassion while at the same time craving violence and wrath in the name of those I knew who are now lost...all the while knowing neither can co-exist without a high price being paid.
It comes as no surprise to me that I feel this way.
But I'm letting those feelings happen...because the music is helping me cope.
Which is why now, more than ever, it's not important to focus on what music is being played...but that it IS being played and that those of us who are lucky to be alive can still HEAR it.
It is in this sentiment that I will go to Madison Square Garden on October 24th and open my heart to the music.
It is in this spirit where I will listen to the words, where I may revisit songs whose content I know full well, and yet won't mind if they take on new meaning in the wake of madness.
As I revel in that sweet noise, I will think of my still-missing friends and those I love.
I shall wish them all peace. I will pray that God gives them grace.
And from there, I will let the healing begin, and I pray it catches on like a contagion all around me.
For that is how I want to live. That is how I will be sustained.
'And don't let the bastards grind you down.'
-- U2, 'Acrobat'
© @U2/Byrne, 200