Its 12:25 AM on September 11th and I just spent the last hour trying to find music that I could share with my Facebook friends. I chose several great versions of classic patriotic music, intermingled with some versions of Christian music, and as I was closing up shop for the evening, I had a moment that made me reflective and made me want to write it up.
I understand that this is indeed a music blog and the events of September 11th really don't fit into such a piece, but I think they do. As I write these insignificant words, I am listening to a version of "America The Beautiful" by Black Label Society (Zakk Wylde actually) and I am reminded that the song and the person performing it are a dichotomy of the Nation itself.
This is a Nation of immigrants, who came from all corners of the Earth to seek freedom for their beliefs (whatever they might have been) and an opportunity to succeed in a society that they really knew little about. As I listened to the BLS version, the previous statement rings true. One of the most important songs ever written, one that is revered and seems to be a song that holds us believing that it should be done as it was written and should not be modified. Then there is the man, Zakk Wylde, a guitar legend that was once in Ozzy Osbourne's band, a long haired heavy metal guy that looks gruff and with every stereotype of such a person laid at our feet, almost as a doormat. Zakk Wylde and his acoustic guitar created an acoustic masterpiece, and possibly the greatest version of the song ever.
Isn't that what the United States of America is all about? A man that came from humble roots, doing the craft that he wants to, and tackles something (the song) that most wouldn't think he could and does it better than anyone else.
The attacks on September 11th, 2001 were an attack on the fiber of our Nation, an attempt to hurt a sovereign Nation that offers religious freedom and equality for all that wish to call it home. The desire to hurt, cripple or kill a Nation that will fight for those freedoms seems like a really, really bad idea and has been proven as such. The attacks did something that I would have expected to happen, the entire Country became galvanized in its anger for the attacks and the loss of 2977 men, women and children, as well as an attack on the Nation itself. Much to the chagrin of those that wished harm upon us, we became stronger, all classes of people came together not as Republicans, Democrats, Christians, Buddhists and rich or poor, on no, we came together as Americans.
As I listened to the song again and again, I realized that the song came together with the artist in a union no one would expect, a version that is so strong it has woven itself into the fabric of the Nation. Can the version of the song be that strong? Yes it can, and yes it is. There are no dramatic flourishes of high screeching notes, forgotten or butchered lyrics, its just amazing music by a master of his craft.
John McDermott's version of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" graced the "airwaves" of Facebook this evening as well, and this version is like the Zakk Wylde version in the respect that a man, not an American citizen shows his reverence for this Nation that he honored Her, and every man and woman that serves or served in the military of the United States. McDermott makes that song stirring, powerful and in such a way that it feels as if he wrote the song.
There is a version of "America the Beautiful" that I chose to play this evening and that would be the version that was performed by Willie Nelson and a cast of characters I would never think would perform together. The song was performed on a telethon for the families and victims of that terrible day and the song almost becomes the prototypical "melting pot" that this Nation is. This is a version of the song that makes me tear up every time I hear it.
The last part of my tribute was a rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner", I say rendition as this isn't a song. While on his television show, Red Skelton did an oral history on the "Star Spangled Banner" as he learned it from his principal. It can be said that after hearing Skelton's version you will never hear those words without remembering how he describes the meaning of the "Star Spangled Banner".
I know and understand that the events of September 11th are so tragic, so vile, and so incomprehensible that music cannot fix the damage to the fabric of the Nation, nor do I think that by my sharing songs on Facebook will help anyone. The very fact that millions of people around the world look at the events of that day with the same shock as we do, makes the attempt seem feeble. The fact that others will post similar music, or listen to similar music in an attempt to feel the pride in the United States and in a fashion through music it can help us reinforce our beliefs and the very freedoms which we all cherish.
The United States and the residents of the planet Earth were devastated by the events of September 11th and the fact that the entire planet offered help in many fashions speaks volumes to the respect that we as a Nation enjoy.
September 11th is the "Day of Infamy" for the 21st century, and despite the current events and problems that we face, seem small compared to that painful day ten years ago. We need to seek solace in the events as we fall into that terrible anniversary and for some music will aid in doing so.
God rest the souls of all of the victims of that day, and the six billion people that have been affected as well. God Bless America.