An event as emotional as the terrorist attacks of 9-11 was bound to inspire a lot of music. There were several songs released in the weeks before the event that found new meaning on that September day. And there were several more that were directly inspired by 9-11 and the subsequent war. No question that patriotic feelings were high, as well as support for American soldiers, and those topics found their way into popular country music. Here is a list of the Top 10 Country Songs for 9-11:
#10: Riding With Private Malone by David Ball. This song was actually released in August 2001, but took on new meaning as American soldiers were sent to Afghanistan. The song was actually written about a soldier who died in Vietnam. It peaked at #2 early in 2002.
#9: America Will Survive by Hank Williams Jr. In the days after 9-11, Hank rewrote the words to his 1982 hit “Country Boy Will Survive.” He performed it on a CMT special in November 2001.
#8: Letters From Home by John Michael Montgomery. This 2004 hit drew on the support for American soldiers that was high following the invasions of Afghanisan and Iraq. This song peaked at #2, and was John Michael’s last Top 10 hit.
#7: If You’re Reading This by Tim McGraw. This was a surprise performance during the 2007 Academy of Country Music Awards. Tim actually had another single in the chart at the time (“I Need You,” a duet with Faith Hill). The next day, radio stations started playing the performance from the TV show, and a studio version was released. It peaked at #3 in November 2007.
#6: Where The Stars & Stripes & The Eagle Fly by Aaron Tippin. This song was written before 9-11, but Tippin was reminded of it as he watched TV news coverage. He saw a picture of the Statue of Liberty with the smoke from Manhattan in the background. He rushed into the studio to record it, and the single was released to radio a week later. Proceeds from the song benefited the American Red Cross.
#5: Only In America by Brooks & Dunn. Another song written and released several months before 9-11, but took on new meaning, especially because of the first line, “Sun comin’ up over New York City.” The song went to #1 in October 2001, and remained a popular moment in their show until the duo broke up.
#4: American Soldier by Toby Keith. After 9-11, Toby began an annual USO tour of Iraq and Afghanistan. He met a lot of soldiers who told him their stories. This song was released in November of 2003, and was the second single from “Shock’n Y’all.” It went to #1 in the spring of 2004.
#3: Have You Forgotten by Darryl Worley. Darryl was Toby’s labelmate at Dreamworks. The song was inspired by a USO Tour in December 2002. Darryl returned and performed the song for the first time on the Grand Ole Opry in January of 2003. The reaction was so intense that he recorded and released the song in March. It spent seven weeks at #1 in the spring of 2003.
#2: Courtesy of the Red White & Blue by Toby Keith. This song was inspired by 9-11. Toby’s father was killed in a car accident 6 months before 9-11. Toby imagined how his father would have reacted to terrorist attacks. He performed it for the troops in early 2002, and they convinced him to release it as a single. It debuted Memorial Day weekend, and peaked at #1 on the 4th of July 2002.
#1: Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning) by Alan Jackson. Also inspired by 9-11, Alan said the words came to him while he was sleeping. He wrote it at the end of October 2001, and a few weeks later debuted it on the CMA Awards Show. Radio stations began to play the live version, and a studio version was released a few weeks later. The song spent a month at #1 in January 2002, and won Jackson his first Grammy.