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Tag Archives: 9/11

The Sun Is Shining

Tomorrow is 9/11—day of destruction, day of my friend’s birthday. Today as I drove home from the vet’s after Jupiter’s cancer check-up and my own entanglements with the human medical system, raindrops started pelting the car—big, enthusiastic raindrops out of nowhere. The sky was not exactly cloudless—it seldom is during Florida summers (and, yes, it’s still thoroughly summer here)—but I could see only a few fluffy white cumulonimbus ones floating in a blue sky.

For some reason, the kitschy Giles, Giles, and Fripp version of “The Sun Is Shining” popped into my head. The blue sky contrasting with the rain perhaps made me think of the cognitive dissonance of this song. And I was also reminded of September 11, 2001, when I had just started my teaching job at Bucknell University—how beautiful the weather was that day and what shared sorrow visited us at the same time. We could hardly believe that the weather continued to be so beautiful.

Perhaps “The Sun Is Shining” also came to me because last week I was revisiting The Prisoner and my college days, where I also had the pleasure to meet all kinds of new-to-me music such as that of Giles, Giles, and Fripp, as well as the better known King Crimson, and in metonymic rock ‘n’ roll fashion Fripp & Eno, 801, and Roxy Music. I had been so sheltered in my Tennessee country-rock-blues-pop universe that I had never heard of any of these. And I loved them. They were my ticket to a cool I had never experienced before. They exploded in my brain.

For one thing, I loved the fact that they could sustain both high drama and silliness. And “The Sun Is Shining” in all its smarmy truth suited my mood this afternoon. I hadn’t listened to the song in maybe decades, but it appeared in my mind full and funny, and I sang it through the pouring rain and sunshine all the way home.

When New York Had Her Heart Broke (9/11)

I have a friend whose birthday is 9/11. She and I have talked about how odd that is—to never be able to celebrate, as least not in public, the occasion of one’s birth. It becomes almost a secret. I want to tell her that we should never feel ashamed of being born, just as no one should feel ashamed of dying. So, happy birthday to my friend.

There is, however, both nothing and too much that one can say about the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I’ve already given the outlines of my experience of that day in this blog on the occasion of Bin Laden’s death. Saying anything today seems to me to take nerve, but it is probably nerve we need to have.

Philip Metres gives a good account of these conflicting impulses of silence and expression that face us over any such horrific event in his Huff Post article, “The Poetry of 9/11 and Its Aftermath.” His article also includes several poems related to 9/11, including Martín Espada’s beautiful “Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100,” which ends with “Music is all we have.”

So for the next few days, I’ll post a song a day related to 9/11 and the dispiriting politics that have followed in the decade since. Just as George Bush squandered the world’s sympathy in his false claims of “weapons of mass destruction” and an ill-advised declaration of war on Iraq, our entire nation has squandered the feeling of brotherly love and egalitarian concern for each other that followed the attacks. Ten years after the 9/11 tragedy, that is a daily sorrow.