Reading Sam McPheeters’ ode to the cripplingly depressing ‘Dust in the Wind’ by Kansas I was reminded of the list he mentions near the end of the article, a do-not-playlist compiled by the management of Clear Channel, which owns over a thousand radio stations reaching over a hundred million Americans, in the days after 9/11. It was a sly bit of corporate self-censorship of songs that might push the nation over the brink.
There are a lot of different kinds of music on the list, but it’s all affecting. Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World’ joins the entire Rage Against the Machine catalog, and USMC favorite ‘Bodies’ by Drowning Pool sits on equal footing with Nena’s ’99 Luftballons’.
The songs declared forbidden by the bigwigs at Clear Channel, deemed unfit for consumption, define an emotional range that completely saturated everything after the attacks. It was chaotic and sloppy and raw, and seemed to fill every place you could fit an interpretation. A story from The New York Times published September 19th says the list’s “intended aim is to ensure national mental health, though First Amendment supporters may point to it as the first shadowy blacklist in what President Bush says will be a war against terrorism.”
I arrived in New York City, pulling a U-Haul onto Lorillard Place in the Bronx, four weeks before September 11. Afterwards, I spent the next three months in a big, new place wandering in a strange trance. Our landlord, who was in the Coast Guard, was never around, and the house quickly turned into a haven for our confused weirdo friends to pad about like mental patients as we all tried to get our heads back together.
I’d like to think that if we had Spotify, and the ability to have access to a playlist containing the most-affecting songs from the last century of American popular music, it might have been a bit easier to snap out of it. Instead we listened to a lot of Can and G.G. Allin, which may have worked just as well.
At any rate, here’s that Spotify playlist. Enjoy the songs of sorrow and elation.