Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 Mixmania

I'll never forget the night before September 11, 2001. I probably went to bed at around 1 or 2 in the morning. As I went to sleep, the last thing I thought about was the anime DVD I thought I was going to get in the mail the next day. I was looking forward to getting it and watching it the next day. That thought has stuck in my mind five years later because it just seemed so damn frivolous compared to what ended up happening the next day. I guess when a life-changing event like the September 11th terrorist attacks happens, everything before it just seems a little less important.

This mix was by far the most difficult one I've done of all the Mixmanias I've participated in. It was a combination of procrastination and a lack of inspiration. I thought of a couple of songs immediately, but for the longest time, I drew a blank on what other songs I wanted to include. In the end, I settled upon 11 songs. This mix is the shortest one I've done for Mixmania. Usually, I'm not happy with a mix if it's not at least an hour long. This mix is less than an hour long. In fact, it's less than 50 minutes long. In the end, this mix is a little unusual for me but September 11th was not the usual either.

Before I start naming the songs and talking about how they relate to how I spent September 11, 2001, let me give you a little more background. Even though I was enrolled at Northwestern at the time, I was at home because NU's new school year hadn't started yet. NU has a quarter system in which the year starts in mid-September and ends in June. With my grandmother's birthday being the day before 9/11, my mom had stayed overnight at my grandmother's house. My uncle and cousin had come into town a few days earlier to celebrate my grandmother's birthday and they were staying over at her house.

Now, my mix:

1. Fatboy Slim-“Star 69” (Sterfish WTF Mix): If there is one thing I will never forget about September 11, 2001 is the way I found out about the attacks. With my sister gone to school and my mom staying over at my grandmother's house (with my aunt taking her to work), the only people in the house were me and my dad. My dad was working nights at the time (and still does at the moment), so he had come home early that morning and gone to sleep. Meanwhile, since I had stayed up late the night before, I too was asleep.

At about 10-something in the morning, my dad came by my room and woke me up. He had just gotten up himself as he didn't even have his glasses on. The look on his face kind of betrayed that something big had happened. He told me to turn on the TV. I asked him why. He told me to turn on the TV again and said “I've never seen anything like this in my entire life.” I turned on the TV in my room. I had left it on FOX the night before. The very first thing I saw was the ruins of the World Trade Center. I sat in my room in silence. My dad sat on my bed and also looked at the TV in silence with me. We watched the coverage for at least 5-10 minutes without saying a word. I remember flipping through the various channels and seeing the same thing. Even non-news channels had stuff on. It was surreal. It was scary. And although I never said it out loud, I wondered “What The Fuck?”

The majority of Fatboy Slim's song “Star 69” consists of artist Roland Clark saying “What The Fuck?” For this mix, I just cut this song down to the final minute or so.

2. The Go! Team - “Air Raid Gtr”: In the moments after I found out about the terrorist attacks, I became worried thinking about what they meant. Would this mean another World War? Would this mean there would be a draft? Those thoughts scared the hell out of me since the only war I had lived through until that point was the first Gulf War.

The Go! Team is a happy, upbeat kind of group, but I picked this song because it consists of guitars played to sound like an air raid siren.

3. Thom Yorke - “The Clock”: With the worries about the implications of war also came worries that these attacks were only the beginning. For a while that day, I did wonder if another terrible thing was going to happen that day. In some respects it felt like time was running out on our country and this song, with the lyric “Time is running out/For us” seemed like a good choice for this mix.

4. DJ Shadow - “Blood On The Motorway”: Death certainly invaded my thinking as I thought about all the people whose lives were lost on that day. Even though I'm not sure if this song really reflects something I thought about on September 11th, it was one of the first songs I considered for this mix. It's one of DJ Shadow's great epic songs (right behind the “What Does Your Soul Look Like?” songs) and it's all about death. This song came out in 2002, so I have to wonder if September 11th was on DJ Shadow's mind when he put this line into the song: “You have not betrayed your ideals/Your ideals betrayed you.”

5. Pharrell - “Our Father”: I know I prayed on September 11th. I prayed that everyone in my family was safe. I prayed for the families of those who died. I picked this song because Pharrell is simply thanking God for everything he has. I don't think you can get much simpler (and truer) than a line like “Thank you for my mother/Thank you for my father.”

6. Terence Blanchard - “Opening Titles” from 25th Hour Original Score: I know I had a song about death on this mix, but I felt that I needed something that would be dedicated to the victims of 9/11. This piece is from the opening of the Spike Lee film 25th Hour, a film that ended up being one of the first films to show a post-9/11 New York City. The images that accompany the music are those of the temporary memorial of lights that was at Ground Zero.

7. The Notorious B.I.G. - “Somebody Gotta Die”: Let's be real. On September 11th, most of America wanted the sons of bitches who did it dead. Not tried in a courtroom, not “brought to justice” or anything like that. We wanted the people who organized such a heinous act dead, plain and simple. As Biggie says on this song: “Somebody's gotta die/If I go, you gotta go.” Now, why the hell isn't Osama bin Laden dead yet?

8. Gang Starr - “Moment Of Truth”: September 11th kind of made us as a country stop a bit. The U.S. is widely regarded as the world's last superpower and yet it took only a few people to take down the World Trade Center and attack the Pentagon. That is one unsettling thought.

I picked this song because it's all about facing the moment of truth that all of us face. It's incredibly unfortunate that our country's moment of truth about our safety resulted in the loss of so many lives.

9. Common - “Love Is...”: It's corny to say that all we need is love, but really we do need it. For a brief time after September 11th, many things that separated us seemed petty. We really felt like one for a little while. Now, of course, we're bitterly divided again. I want to scream whenever I hear the terms red state and blue state. Why can't we love our fellow man?

10. Sean Paul - “Never Gonna Be The Same”: After an event like the September 11th attacks, one thing was very clear...we would never again be the same country we were on September 10, 2001. We all feel the effects of the events of September 11th even today. I remember one time where my dad and I took my uncle to the airport in the times before September 11th. We were able to go into the airport and go all the way to the terminal before saying goodbye to him. The last time I went to take him to the airport after a family visit, we just had to drop him off and say goodbye. I will never be able to go into an airport again unless I'm catching a flight or working there. That's just one way that things have changed.

11. Gorillaz - “Demon Days”: After such a terrible day, ultimately you realize that you're still alive, that time will still keep going, and that tomorrow is a new day. I'm not saying that you forget. I'm saying that you deal with things and move on. I did not spend the days after September 11th gloomy. I went right back to living my life. You can't dwell on things that have already happened. You just have to hope that you've learned from them and continue to live as best you can.

The message of this final song (which is also the final song on the album it came from) is the same as what I mentioned above. The choir in the song sings “It's a brand new day/So turn yourself/Turn yourself/Turn yourself around/To the sun.” That's what we all did in the days after September 11, 2001. We went back to work and school. September 11, 2001 joins moments like the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and JFK and the Challenger disaster as something that will forever stay in the minds of those who were alive to see it. Our country was able to recover from those moments and it will recover from September 11th and hopefully, it will come out all the better.

1 comment:

  1. Dude, your mixes are so incredible - THANK YOU!!! You and your blog are incredible instances of tremendous talent and generosity!