On the radio this week, songs by Live, Moby, Jewel, Aerosmith, Enya and others have been transformed into musical tributes integrating news coverage of Tuesday’s events, passages from President Bush’s speeches in response to them and first-person accounts from witnesses to the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.
KIIS in Los Angeles produced a tribute version of U2’s “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” and are also playing a tribute version of Enya’s “Only Time” and Faith Hill’s “Star-Spangled Banner.”
“We were looking for something to help, songs that touch the heart, that help you reflect and make you feel good,” KIIS program director John Ivy said Friday (September 14). “We are playing tributes that make sense and don’t sensationalize the events in any way. Our listeners are calling for them.”
WHFS in Washington, D.C., produced a version of Moby’s “Porcelain” that opens with the line, “Freedom itself was attacked this morning,” from President Bush’s address to the nation. Other sound clips interspersed with Moby lyrics such as “In my dreams I’m dying all the time” include “there was chaos everywhere” and “firefighters were crying.” The tribute can be heard on the station’s Web site (www.whfs.com).
WVRV in St. Louis produced a tribute version of Annie Lennox’s “Why,” and are also playing a tribute version of Don Henley’s “In a New York Minute” and a new version of “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Tom Pilcher.
“The songs we are playing are incredibly powerful,” WVRV program director Mark Edwards said Friday. “In all of my many years in radio, never have I seen more response from listeners. These songs are touching people very deeply.”
WBBN in Chicago is playing Whitney Houston’s “Star-Spangled Banner” and a tribute version of Enrique Iglesias’s “Hero.”
In New York, WHTZ is spinning a tribute version of Jewel’s “Hands,” and in Chicago, WKQX is playing a tribute version of Live’s new “Overcome.”
Live dedicated “Overcome” to the tragedies’ victims this week, their spokesperson said Thursday. The song, from their new album V, due Tuesday, is available for download at their Web site (www.friendsoflive.com).
WBCN in Boston is playing the Live piano ballad without the added dialogue.
“I think [the tributes] are cheesy,” Oedipus, the rock station’s program director, said Friday. “I am not putting Bush on my station. He doesn’t like the music we play. The song alone has hit a chord with our audience. It is an amazing song. It gives me chills when I hear it.”
“Overcome” opens with singer Ed Kowalczyk singing, “Even though/ The world is bleeding/ But feeling just fine/ Alone in the castle/ Where we’re always free to choose.” The edited version includes Bush declaring, “Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil.”
A tribute version of Aerosmith’s “Living on the Edge” has also received air time on some stations, while others are relying on Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” to pump up listeners’ pride.
Country singer Jo Dee Messina’s “Bring on the Rain” has been edited into a tribute version being played on country stations around the world.
“When I recorded that song, it felt deep but it was about personal heartache,” Messina told the Associated Press. “To know that the song also can relate to such a massive destruction, it gives the song an entirely new dimension. To have this song be a part of all of us uniting, feeling and connecting, is a massive deal for me.”
KCRW in the Los Angeles area, home to “Morning Becomes Eclectic” and the syndicated “Sounds Eclectic” shows, dedicated its airwaves to news coverage until Friday morning, when music director Nic Harcourt hosted a special show.
Harcourt played songs such as Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah,” Simon and Garfunkel’s “America” and Joni Mitchell’s “Come in from the Cold” on the show, an hour of which can be heard on the station’s Web site (www.kcrw.com).
“During this day of remembrance and national prayer,” Harcourt said, “I felt it was important to program music that reflected the emotions and feelings many of us have experienced during the last week, music that could express sympathy, sorrow, strength and hope. It is my belief that music can help us heal.”
KCRW’s Cathy Tamkin will host a second show dedicated to the tragedies at midnight Friday and said she will include PJ Harvey’s “This Mess We’re In,” Belle & Sebastian’s “I Fought in a War” and Bob Marley’s “So Much Trouble in the World” on her show.
Television stations are also including musical tributes in their coverage of the attacks. WNBC, New York’s NBC affiliate, played Bruce Springsteen’s version of “We Shall Overcome” during one of its segments. Others have also used Pilcher’s “God Bless the U.S.A.”