“Now this nation that I love has fallen under attack. A mighty sucker punch came flyin’ in from somewhere in the back. Soon as we could see clearly through our big black eye, man, we lit up your world like the 4th of July”

There were a lot of songs that came out directly or tangentially related to 9/11, particularly amongst country musicians. However, I don’t think that any of them really captured the mood like the famous and infamous song that came out the next year. Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” was an is a controversial song, but whether one views it as a healthy reflection of patriotism or an ignorant reflection of jingoism, it was the song of the time. As far as I am concerned, there really was no other. We were wounded and we were angry and whether he was being opportunistic as his critics charge or as earnest as his recounting of the song suggests, he understood. I remember reading an article at the time from some music critic who was complaining that there was no song that captured our mood. Though in his defense this song had not come out yet, it was pretty apparent from the piece that the song he was looking for was an anti-war song. But it wasn’t a Buffalo Springfield time. It was a Toby Keith one.

There was ultimately never going to be any response than injured pride and anger. There was never going to be any result but war. The wars that we chose and how we conducted them are subject of debate (though not here, please), but not the essential truths of anger and war. Those that criticize Keith’s song as jingoistic or ignorant ultimately miss the point. You can’t wish away human nature or what everyone else is thinking or feeling. Either because he was feeling the same thing that three-quarters of the public was feeling or simply because he had eyes and ears, his song reflected an understanding surprisingly (or not surprisingly, really) absent in our mainstream entertainment at the time.

Category: Theater

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One Response to HCW: The Angry American

  1. Mike Hunt says:

    9/11/11 will be a big deal because we like anniversaries that end with zero. Hopefully, after that, we don’t have to hear as much about it.

    The biggest myth coming out of 9/11 is that everyone who died that day is greated missed by their families. I’m sure there are plenty who would rather have the Feinberg money.

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