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Monday, November 07, 2011

SONGS I LIKE: Where Were You (Alan Jackson)


Did you weep for the children who lost their dear loved ones
And pray for the ones who don't know?

Alan Jackson
Country music has a lot to answer for. I don't know if its just me or if it is the genre but no musical form can get me bawling like an idiot the way country can. Some of the songs are so overpoweringly sad or compelling I just am destroyed. Songs like "He Stopped Loving Her Today" by George Jones are just unforgivable, how could anyone sing something like that, its just not fair.

Folk singers are great at putting powerful events to song, stating what happened in a striking and memorable way, such as "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot. Yet to my knowledge not a single one did a song about 9/11, or at least none tackled it in a way that wasn't some hamfisted leftist political statement everyone forgot as soon as they heard it.

That's where country steps in. Alan Jackson isn't my favorite musical artist, but his song Where "Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)" is a song about that dreadful morning. There's no politics, there's no statement, there's no attempt to wave the flag, even. He just sings about the event and how it hit people, how folks reacted.

I remember 9/11 well. It happened before I woke up because I'm on the west coast. I slept in a while that day, and when I logged on MIRC as I often did back then, people were all talking about it. I turned on CNN Headline News back when it was worth a damn, and watched the events unfold. I remember that shock and horror, watching the building crash down, imagining the people inside, watching the footage of people jumping out to avoid the flames. I thought about those firemen and the rest who tried their hardest to save lives, and died in the process. I thought about the children and loved ones who had to watch their family members die. And I thought about how someone was going to pay for this and my fists clenched in helpless rage.

Most of the country changed their viewpoint for a few weeks after that. People flooded into churches. Reality shows like Survivor plunged in popularity. We woke up a while from the bread and circuses distractions of modern hedonistic culture and banded together, a short while, as a single nation with the real world and its true important things in our minds. A short while.

Remember. Remember.

Alan Jackson's song brings all that back, its a powerful reminiscence of those hours after we all found out what had happened. God save us from another event like that; God help us when it happens again.

Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
Were you in the yard with your wife and children
Or working on some stage in L.A.?
Did you stand there in shock at the sight of that black smoke
Risin' against that blue sky?
Did you shout out in anger, in fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry?

Did you weep for the children who lost their dear loved ones
And pray for the ones who don't know?
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below?
Did you burst out in pride for the red, white and blue
And the heroes who died just doin' what they do?
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself and what really matters?

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell
you the difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
Were you teaching a class full of innocent children
Or driving down some cold interstate?
Did you feel guilty 'cause you're a survivor
In a crowded room did you feel alone?
Did you call up your mother and tell her you loved her?
Did you dust off that Bible at home?

Did you open your eyes, hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep?
Did you notice the sunset the first time in ages
Or speak to some stranger on the street?
Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow
Or go out and buy you a gun?
Did you turn off that violent old movie you're watchin'
And turn on "I Love Lucy" reruns?

Did you go to a church and hold hands with some strangers
Did you stand in line and give your own blood?
Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
Thank God you had somebody to love?

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell
you the difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell
you the difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love

And the greatest is love.
And the greatest is love.



This is part of the Songs I Like series.

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