By Brian Ives
Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz went on CBS This Morning yesterday to discuss his already-in-progress campaign. Toward the end of the interview, Gayle King asked him about his taste in TV shows (he enjoys House Of Cards) and music. It was the subject of music that gave the interview one of its more interesting moments.
The Texan said he used to listen to classic rock, until 9/11. “I didn’t like how rock music responded,” he said. “And country music, collectively, the way they responded, it resonated with me. I had an emotional reaction that says, ‘These are my people.’”
Country music’s response to that tragic event came in the form of Alan Jackson‘s classic “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning.)” The song resonated with nearly everyone, including people in markets where Jackson (a country megastar) wasn’t well known at the time, notably New York. “Where were you when the world stopped turning, that September day?” Jackson asks in the song’s lyrics. “Did you stand there in shock/At the sight of that black smoke/Rising against that blue sky?”
Jackson’s song topped the country charts and even was a Top 30 hit on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100, a rare accomplishment for country artists at the time.
There was also the more aggressive “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (the Angry American)” by Toby Keith. “You’ll be sorry that you messed with the US of A,” Keith sings, “’cause we’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way.” It also topped the country charts and made Top 30 the Billboard Hot 100.
It’s understandable that Cruz would gravitate towards those anthems. But it’s curious he felt rock artists did not address the tragic events of that day. Because let me tell you right now, they did.
In fact, it was predominately rock and pop artists who led massive fundraising efforts in the days following 9/11. For instance, the telethon America: A Tribute To Heroes took place on Sept. 21 and featured Bruce Springsteen, U2, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Billy Joel and Paul Simon (along with Willie Nelson and Faith Hill). A month later on Oct. 20, The Concert for New York City saw Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the Who, Elton John, Billy Joel, James Taylor, David Bowie and Eric Clapton.
All in all, many of the biggest living icons of Cruz’s formerly beloved ‘classic rock’ world were very quick to respond.
Both of the above events saw the artists performing their classics, many of which took on added weight post-9/11 (Bowie’s “Heroes,” Billy Joel’s “New York State Of Mind” and “Miami 2017”). Others covered songs that seemed appropriate (Bowie’s take on Simon & Garfunkel‘s “America,” Neil Young’s version of John Lennon‘s “Imagine”).
And some artists did attempt to process the events of 9/11 via brand-new songs. We break down of some of those efforts.