Remember Clear Channel’s censorship of 150 “lyrically questionable” songs right after 9/11?

I’ve been trying to figure out what, if anything, I should write about the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks.  It’s hard to believe it’s been that long.

I’ve been particularly annoyed by all the depoliticized media coverage of the anniversary I’ve been catching.  There’s been all this memorializing stuff I’ve been catching on NPR for instance, like recalling “what people went through on that day.” It’s as if only American’s experiences matter, or that what really matters is only the official account of 9/11’s “aftermath”–all the sting of our national pride, security and whatever, and not the aftermath that the rest of us and the world is still going through: rampant Islamophobia resulting in extra-judicial raids, prison detentions and HUAC-style house hearings on “Islamic fundamentalism” in the US; two brutal, ongoing and seemingly endless occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, resulting in over 920,000 civilian casualties since the invasion of Afghanistan; an endless “War on Terror” that is used to justify imperialist subversion of national sovereignty across the world, for example, in the form of CIA-led pilotless drone strikes in Pakistan that have killed almost 2,600 Pakistanis, almost all civilians, since 2004; draconian surveillance and security policies that continue to be used against Arabs and activists, in the name of “national security”; and worse.

Anyway, while I consider preparing a more thorough post on the subject, consider this a placeholder.

I remember sitting in a journalism class in high school the week of the attacks when the word popped up that the corporate media monopoly Clear Channel was banning music they though was “lyrically questionable.”  The list included 150 various songs, here are a few:


“War” by Edwin Starr (1970)

“Ooooh, war
It’s an enemy to all mankind
The point of war blows my mind
War has caused unrest
Within the younger generation
Induction then destruction
Who wants to die?

Sure, I can see why Clear Channel thought were “questionable.”  If your a media monopoly that relies on government favor to avoid being busted up for anti-trust violation than you’d want to make sure you don’t play anything that questions the government’s opportunistic use of wide spread public fear and anxiety to lead the country into a decade long war either.


“Peace Train” by Cat Stevens (1971)

Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again.

Of course, peace, however politely requested, in a time of imperialist warfare is always contrary to elite corporate interests.


“What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong (1968)

I see skies of blue, and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, dark sacred night
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Nobody shall think the world is pleasant anymore! Ever! Clear Channel demands it so!


All songs by Rage Against the Machine (1991–2000, 2007–present)

Mass graves for the pump and the price is set
And the price is set …
Who controls the past now controls the future
Who controls the present now controls the past
Who controls the past now controls the future
Who controls the present now?

The memo by Clear Channel banned “all songs by Rage Against the Machine.”   For reasons that should be obvious enough, I suppose.

This last song wasn’t recorded yet, but I really love this song and video and thought I would include it here while I’m talking about music that’s, at least indirectly, related to 9/11.  This is “Sharpshooter” by From Monument To Masses.

Divided and conquered
Well rise and shine
Your orders have arrived
And while we were sleeping it off
We’ve been iron clad
Like the Merimac was.

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