Ten Best September 11 Songs by Artists You Actually Like

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Ryan Adams had no idea he was writing one of the greatest post-9/11 songs at the time.
On the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, it's appropriate to reflect and pay tribute to all the brave souls who lost their lives on that heartbreaking day. Over the years, many musicians have attempted to capture the spirit of grief, frustration, and remembrance that followed for the nearly 3,000 innocent victims that needlessly passed away on that tragic day.

Many of the worst examples have become staggeringly popular. We assure you there are tributes beyond Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)" or Alan Jackson's "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" or the star-studded benefit single "What More Can I Give," with cameos from Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, 'NSync, and Destiny's Child. Here is our sibling Village Voice's list of even more 9/11 songs to avoid.

Never fear; New Times has compiled a list of songs that pay homage to the events that occurred on 9/11 without having to sacrifice your musical inclinations.

10. Ryan Adams - "New York, New York"



This song actually was recorded before the 9/11 attacks, and the video was filmed just four days prior to the tragedy. Still, Ryan Adams' infectious love letter to the city couldn't have come at a better time. What could've been an awkward use of the Manhattan skyline for a good portion of Adams' performance looks more like a proud reference to an indelible landmark in every New Yorker's line of sight.

9. Leonard Cohen - "On That Day"



From reflective Canadian singer/songwriter's underheard 2004 album, Dear Heather, came this tender, mournful number. Cohen lays it out as only he could in his smoky, contemplative, baritone way: He is simply "holding the fort" for the "wounded New York." No pointing fingers, no aggression, just a little soothing, healing number to get you started on your day on reflection.

8. Sage Francis - "Makeshift Patriot"

 

We switch now from reflective introspection to flat-out ebullient rage. This track from Providence, Rhode Island, rapper Sage Francis' was his knee-jerk reaction to a Ground Zero visit made just a mere five days after the tragedy occurred. You can hear his anguish, anger, and frustration in each verse. Francis "hangs himself at half-mast" in this track, mournful about the events and particularly scournful of the media hype surrounding it.

7. James - "Hey Ma"



"Now the towers have fallen, so much dust in the air," croons James lead singer Tim Booth in his signature falsetto on this title track from the Brit-pop group's comeback tenth studio album. The song examines the price paid for revenge. Many of us were left with a sense of avenging the wrong that was done on that fateful day, perhaps making  "choices worse than the fall." Booth breaks it down with this verse: "All the body bags coming home, are the really worth it?" In the end, some might view this track as a dowdy protest song, but it can be argued to be poignant -- albeit polarizing -- because of its dissection of the price that we paid for retribution.


6. Juliana Hatfield - "Hole in the Sky"

 

A mournful song that bluntly deals with the literal hole in downtown Manhattan's skyline that was left behind with the Twin Towers loss. Endearing indie chanteuse Juliana Hatfield admitted that she was terrified about going to New York City after the 9/11 tragedy and experienced irrational fears of flying. Hatfield literally sounds like she is on the verge of tears with each subtle guitar strum and delicate vocal quiver heard here. We say this one is on the depression stage in the "five stages of grief" scale. 


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