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Songs to attacks by Enya or Springsteen – SWR3

When New York was the target of a terrorist attack 20 years ago, many people sought solace in music. As a result, some of the songs are closely related to the attack on the World Trade Center.

Enya – Only time: After 9/11, the Irish singer’s song was on radio worldwide

The first musical reaction to the terrorist attacks on September 11th came from the television station CNN, the Enyas song Only time had underlined the disaster with original sounds. Enya herself was relatively skeptical at the beginning, but she also knew that her song could help people at least a little bit. In the text it says that time cannot completely eradicate bad events, but at least it heals wounds. Originally the Irish singer Only time published in autumn 2000. At first the song hardly got any attention. After September 11, 2001, it became a worldwide hit, says SWR3 music editor Matthias Kugler in the podcast The Biggest Hits and Their History.

Enya, Only Time (Photo: WEA International - Warner)

The greatest hits and their history

Only Time – Enya


Bruce Springsteen – My City Of Ruins: The boss wrote an entire album about the attacks

Bruce Springsteen continued on his entire album The rising from 2002 dealt with the events of September 11th – especially because the fans wanted him to do it. There is a story that shortly after the attack, Bruce Springsteen was approached by a stranger in a parking lot: “We need you now!” In the theme song The rising Springsteen sings about a firefighter running into the collapsing World Trade Center. My City Of Ruins describes how the area around Ground Zero changed after the attacks.

“My City Of Ruins” translated by Bruce Springsteen

Just a few days after the attacks, there were charity events at which stars collected donations. Bruce Springsteen played ten days after 9/11 together with artists such as U2, Sting and Mariah Carey at a benefit gala for the relatives of the victims. America: A Tribute To Heroes took place in secret locations in New York and Los Angeles for fear of attacks without spectators. Hollywood greats like Julia Roberts, Jack Nicholson or Tom Cruise sat on the phone to receive donations from the 100 million television viewers. In the end, 150 million euros came together.

Paul McCartney brought a piece of joie de vivre back to New York with a concert

On October 20th, ex-Beatle Paul McCartney organized it Concert for NYC in Madison Square Garden. “I’m not a firefighter or a rescue worker, so I had to think of something else,” said Paul McCartney. For six hours, music legends from Mick Jagger to Eric Clapton and top bands from Bon Jovi to The Who created a party atmosphere to thank the firefighters, police officers and volunteers on behalf of everyone and, above all, to thank the New Yorkers after the days of terror and grief were able to have some fun again.

In the end, all the stars went on stage again to Paul McCartney’s new single Freedom to sing that he had composed especially for that evening. Just a day later, Aerosmith, ‘NSYNC, Ricky Martin, Michael Jackson and many others played 11 hours in Washington at the U.nited We Stand.

The Calling – Wherever You Will Go: A song about love and hope after the terrorist attack

As well as Only time from Enya had Wherever You Will Go by the rock band The Calling actually had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks, but was made a song of misfortune by the Americans. The Calling had written the song a long time ago and were always convinced that it could be a hit. First he was in the teen movie Coyote Ugly to hear, then came the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and Wherever You Will Go became a hymn of hope and one of the greatest hits of the 00s.

Wherever you will go - The Calling (Photo: SMC - Sony Music)

The greatest hits and their history

Wherever You Will Go – The Calling


Five For Fighting – Superman (It’s Not Easy): The hymn of the New York Fire Department

On August 26, 2001 increases Superman (It’s Not Easy) from Five For Fighting entered the US charts at a modest 69th place. John Ondrasik, singer and songwriter from Five For Fighting, had composed the song a few months earlier. It is about an artist who would like to be Superman, but who is constantly misunderstood by his surroundings and therefore remains unsuccessful. A feeling that John knew Ondrasik all too well himself. So far, his career has been anything but steep. Two weeks after the song was released, the terrorist attacks in the USA shock the whole world. 3,000 people died in the World Trade Center collapse, including more than 300 firefighters. Superman (It’s Not Easy) becomes their hymn. At the time, John Ondrasik was completely surprised by the sudden success.

We had already noticed before September 11th that this song seemed to touch people in many ways. But then after September 11th it became something of a hymn, a song that reflects people’s feelings. Of course, a songwriter is most happy when he can help people when they need help. But that was under circumstances that could not be imagined.

During this time, John Ondrasik thought a lot about what would have become of him without September 11th, without the media attention for his song. A disturbing thought. But he had a solution to his dilemma.

I was in London when the attacks happened. When I got home, I suddenly heard the song a lot on the radio, CNN used it to accompany videos. In no way did I want to make a profit from this terrible tragedy and decided to use all the proceeds from it to benefit the New York firefighters and the families of the victims. What really touched me is that this song spoke to and helped so many people. No matter whether they were 8 or 80, whether man or woman and no matter where they came from. I thought that was wonderful.

For John Ondrasik, the most important moment of his career came a few weeks after September 11th. He also joined on October 20, 2001 Concert For New York City in Madison Square Garden. Five For Fighting stayed in the American charts for a total of 35 weeks with their anthem for the New York Fire Department. To this day, John Ondrasik plays Superman (It’s Not Easy) at each of his concerts.

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Jay-Z & Alicia Keys – Empire State Of Mind: “Long live the world trade”

It is probably the greatest hymn to a city: Empire State Of Mind. Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ song about New York, released in 2009 – eight years after the attacks. In one sentence they make a very specific reference to 9/11.

Long live the World Trade – long live the World Trade Center.

Coldplay – politics: This song was written on 9/11

On their 2002 album A rush of blood to the head Coldplay released the song politics. In an interview, singer Chris Martin said this song was written on September 11th and recorded two days later. It arose out of a feeling of fear due to the events and deals with the unhappiness and the issue of impermanence. At the 45th Grammys in 2003, Coldplay performed this song in Madison Square Garden in New York.



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