Within 24 hours of the twin towers crashing down, Paul McCartney had already penned his response; before the full consequences could be known, before the event itself could be comprehended in anything approaching its entirety. It would become an event that would define an epoch and change a political landscape (as well as a physical one), but it is one that is surprisingly underrepresented in popular music. How many songs can you think of that included this as its subject matter? Or that offer any response to what happened on September 11th 2001? How many of them are actually any good?
McCartney’s clunky offering sounds exactly like it was written in under a day, repetitive, rushed, uninspired, and worst of all, full of vague sentiments that could have been written about any time, or anything (”I’m talkin’ bout freedom/ Talkin’ bout freedom/ I will fight/ For the right/ To live in Freedom“). The song includes the word ‘freedom’ 19 times, contains about ten lines, and doesn’t have anything that could be labelled a verse, just repetition of the same phrases with slight variation over and over, sounding increasingly dogmatic, empty and meaningless. It doesn’t come close to capturing the intensity of feelings in the moment, if anything, it feels a little insincere. ‘Freedom’ has been quickly forgotten because it is as irrelevant now as it was then, and was even replaced in rotation by the pre-September 11th Ryan Adams song ‘New York, New York’; its video of the NY skyline filmed four days before the twin towers came down.
It seems apt then that the only tune released since that has captured some of the sentiment of this event and what it meant, came from through and through New Yorkers, and did so by simply being an ode to city, and everything that has made it such a prominent vocal point in modern culture, delivered with obvious sincerity.
The Beastie Boys’ ‘An Open Letter to NYC’s success lies in only focusing on the little things that make New York what it is, the personal memories (“I remember when the Duece was all porno flicks/ Running home after school to play PIX/ At lunch I’d go to Blimpies down on Montague Street/ And hit the Fulton Street Mall for the sneakers on my feet”), the nuances of the city, the direct history. Opening with a sample of ‘New York’s my Home’ by Robert Goulet (“Listen up all you New Yorkers”) the song is built on a killer bassline taken from ‘Sonic Reducer’ by The Dead Boys, another NYC based band. Thus it puts together two things New York can largely take the credit for; hip hop and punk. . . Read More . . .http://www.whatisthegrain.com/feature/tunes-of-the-decade-39-an-open-letter-to-nyc-by-the-beastie-boys/