http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nyt/20010919/en/after_the_horror_radio_stations_pull_some_songs_1.html http://archive.nytimes.com/2001/09/19/arts/music/19POPL.html http://news.npr.org/jhtml/news_feature.jhtml?wf_id=22688&cat_id=8 http://www.npr.org/news/specials/americatransformed/people/clearchannel.html
Clear Channel Communications Inc. of San Antonio sent a list of more than 160 "inappropriate" songs to its 1,200 radio stations. The songs are ones the station owner thought might be taken as bad taste if played in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks.
The list includes John Lennon's 'Imagine' and the Youngbloods' 'Come On, People.'
Listeners and musicians questioned the intent of the list. Jesse Colin Young, founder of the Youngbloods, said people need to be careful to look at freedom of speech and civil liberties at a time like this. The Youngbloods' song was a big hit with anti-war protesters during the Vietnam War.
The company emphasized that the list was created because stations were telephoning for guidance and that the list was meant as a guide, not a ban, on songs. Pam Taylor, spokeswoman for Clear Channel, said local stations 'know their market and choose' what songs to play.
[Editor's Note: Rumour has it that Clear Channel is currently denying that the list exists at all. 9/19/01]
The Day the Music Died
Radio Giant Warns of "Questionable" Songs
Sept. 19, 2001 -- Last week an executive at radio giant Clear Channel Communications sent its 1,200-plus stations a list of songs with "questionable lyrics" in light of the terrorist attacks. Some of them reference air travel ("Jet Airliner" by the Steve Miller Band); others feature violent or troubling images ("Enter Sandman" by Metallica). Still others advocate peace (John Lennon's "Imagine"; the Youngbloods' "Get Together").
As NPR's Rick Karr reports, Clear Channel execs insist the list was an "advisory," and stations weren't forced to follow it. But artists and listeners are outraged that the largest owner of radio stations in the United States -- and a company whose DJs are known for killing live animals on the air -- would even consider such a move.
According to the Web site Hitsdailydouble.com, the artists and songs cited are:
Drowning Pool, "Bodies" Mudvayne, "Death Blooms" Megadeth, "Dread and the Fugitive" Megadeth, "Sweating Bullets" Saliva, "Click Click Boom" P.O.D., "Boom" Metallica, "Seek and Destroy" Metallica, "Harvester or Sorrow" Metallica, "Enter Sandman" Metallica, "Fade to Black" All Rage Against The Machine songs Nine Inch Nails, "Head Like a Hole" Godsmack, "Bad Religion" Tool, "Intolerance" Soundgarden, "Blow Up the Outside World" AC/DC, "Shot Down in Flames" AC/DC, "Shoot to Thrill" AC/DC, "Dirty Deeds" AC/DC, "Highway to Hell" AC/DC, "Safe in New York City" AC/DC, "TNT" AC/DC, "Hell's Bells" Black Sabbath, "War Pigs" Black Sabbath, "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" Black Sabbath, "Suicide Solution" Dio, "Holy Diver" Steve Miller, "Jet Airliner" Van Halen, "Jump" Queen, "Another One Bites the Dust" Queen, "Killer Queen" Pat Benatar, "Hit Me with Your Best Shot" Pat Benatar, "Love is a Battlefield" Oingo Boingo, "Dead Man's Party" REM, "It's the End of the World as We Know It" Talking Heads, "Burning Down the House" Judas Priest, "Some Heads Are Gonna Roll" Pink Floyd, "Run Like Hell" Pink Floyd, "Mother" Savage Garden, "Crash and Burn" Dave Matthews Band, "Crash Into Me" Bangles, "Walk Like an Egyptian" Pretenders, "My City Was Gone" Alanis Morissette, "Ironic" Barenaked Ladies, "Falling for the First Time" Fuel, "Bad Day" John Parr, "St. Elmo's Fire" Peter Gabriel, "When You're Falling" Kansas, "Dust in the Wind" Led Zeppelin, "Stairway to Heaven" The Beatles, "A Day in the Life" The Beatles, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" The Beatles, "Ticket To Ride" The Beatles, "Obla Di, Obla Da" Bob Dylan/Guns N Roses, "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" Arthur Brown, "Fire" Blue Oyster Cult, "Burnin' For You" Paul McCartney and Wings, "Live and Let Die" Jimmy Hendrix, "Hey Joe" Jackson Brown, "Doctor My Eyes" John Mellencamp, "Crumbling Down" John Mellencamp, "I'm On Fire" U2, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" Boston, "Smokin" Billy Joel, "Only the Good Die Young" Barry McGuire, "Eve of Destruction" Steam, "Na Na Na Na Hey Hey" Drifters, "On Broadway" Shelly Fabares, "Johnny Angel" Los Bravos, "Black is Black" Peter and Gordon, "I Go To Pieces" Peter and Gordon, "A World Without Love" Elvis, "(You're the) Devil in Disguise" Zombies, "She's Not There" Elton John, "Benny and The Jets" Elton John, "Daniel" Elton John, "Rocket Man" Jerry Lee Lewis, "Great Balls of Fire" Santana, "Evil Ways" Louis Armstrong, "What A Wonderful World" Youngbloods, "Get Together" Ad Libs, "The Boy from New York City" Peter Paul and Mary, "Blowin' in the Wind" Peter Paul and Mary, "Leavin' on a Jet Plane" Rolling Stones, "Ruby Tuesday" Simon And Garfunkel, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" Happenings, "See You in Septemeber" Carole King, "I Feel the Earth Move" Yager and Evans, "In the Year 2525" Norman Greenbaum, "Spirit in the Sky" Brooklyn Bridge, "Worst That Could Happen" Three Degrees, "When Will I See You Again" Cat Stevens, "Peace Train" Cat Stevens, "Morning Has Broken" Jan and Dean, "Dead Man's Curve" Martha and the Vandellas, "Nowhere to Run" Martha and the Vandellas/Van Halen, "Dancing in the Streets" Hollies, "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" San Cooke Herman Hermits, "Wonder World" Petula Clark, "A Sign of the Times" Don McLean, "American Pie" J. Frank Wilson, "Last Kiss" Buddy Holly and the Crickets, "That'll Be the Day" John Lennon, "Imagine" Bobby Darin, "Mack the Knife" The Clash, "Rock the Casbah" Surfaris, "Wipeout" Blood Sweat and Tears, "And When I Die" Dave Clark Five, "Bits and Pieces" Tramps, "Disco Inferno" Paper Lace, "The Night Chicago Died" Frank Sinatra, "New York, New York" Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Travelin' Band" The Gap Band, "You Dropped a Bomb On Me" Alien Ant Farm, "Smooth Criminal" 3 Doors Down, "Duck and Run" The Doors, "The End" Third Eye Blind, "Jumper" Neil Diamond, "America" Lenny Kravitz, "Fly Away" Tom Petty, "Free Fallin'" Bruce Springsteen, "I'm On Fire" Bruce Springsteen, "Goin' Down" Phil Collins, "In the Air Tonight" Alice in Chains, "Rooster" Alice in Chains, "Sea of Sorrow" Alice in Chains, "Down in a Hole" Alice in Chains, "Them Bone" Beastie Boys, "Sure Shot" Beastie Boys, "Sabotage" The Cult, "Fire Woman" Everclear, "Santa Monica" Filter, "Hey Man, Nice Shot" Foo Fighters, "Learn to Fly" Korn, "Falling Away From Me" Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Aeroplane" Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Under the Bridge" Smashing Pumpkins, "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" System of a Down, "Chop Suey!" Skeeter Davis, "End of the World" Rickey Nelson, "Travelin' Man" Chi-Lites, "Have You Seen Her" Animals, "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" Fontella Bass, "Rescue Me" Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, "Devil with the Blue Dress" James Taylor, "Fire and Rain" Edwin Starr/Bruce Springstein, "War" Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Tuesday's Gone" Limp Bizkit, "Break Stuff" Green Day, "Brain Stew" Temple of the Dog, "Say Hello to Heaven" Sugar Ray, "Fly" Local H, "Bound for the Floor" Slipknot, "Left Behind, Wait and Bleed" Bush, "Speed Kills" 311, "Down" Stone Temple Pilots, "Big Bang Baby," "Dead and Bloated" Soundgarden, "Fell on Black Days," "Black Hole Sun" Nina, "99 Luft Balloons/99 Red Balloons"
Clear Channel Communications, the Texas-based company that owns about 1,170 radio stations nationwide, has circulated a list of 150 songs and asked its stations to avoid playing them because of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Some listed songs would be insensitive to play right now, such as the Gap Band's "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" and Soundgarden's "Blow Up the Outside World," but other choices, critics and musicians say, are less explicable because they have little literal connection to the tragedies.
These include "Ticket to Ride" by the Beatles, "On Broadway" by the Drifters and "Bennie and the Jets" by Elton John. Even odder, some songs on the list are patriotic, like Neil Diamond's "America." Others speak of universal optimism, like Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World," and others are emotional but hopeful songs that could help people grieve, like "Imagine" by John Lennon, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel, "Peace Train" by Cat Stevens and "A World Without Love" by Peter and Gordon.
The move by Clear Channel, whose collective broadcasts reach more than 110 million listeners in the nation weekly, was voluntary. Many stations, including some in the New York area, said they were disregarding the list, which was distributed internally.
Another Peter and Gordon song, "I Go to Pieces," made the list. "I suppose a song about someone going to pieces could be upsetting if someone took it literally," said Peter Asher of Peter and Gordon after learning that the group's two songs were on the list. "But 'I can't live in a world without love' is a sentiment that's as true in crisis as it is in normal times. It's a totally pro-love sentiment and could only be helpful right now."
A Clear Channel spokeswoman emphasized that the list was not a mandate or order to radio programmers. In a statement, the company said the list came not from the corporate offices but from "a grass-roots effort that was apparently circulated among program directors."
Others in the Clear Channel network, speaking on condition of anonymity, told a more complicated story. They said that a smaller list of questionable songs was originally generated by the corporate office, but an overzealous regional executive began contributing suggestions and circulating the list via e-mail, where it continued to grow.
Either way, compliance with the list varied from station to station. Angela Perelli, the vice president for operations at KYSR (98.7 FM) in Los Angeles, said the station was not playing any of the listed songs and had previously pulled a couple of the cited songs, "Jumper" by Third Eye Blind and "Fly" by Sugar Ray, on its own accord. On the other hand, Bob Buchmann, the program director and an on-air personality at WAXQ-FM (104.3) in Manhattan, said that some songs on the list ("American Pie" by Don McLean, "Imagine" and others) happened to be among the most-played songs on his station. In the meantime, the station decided not to broadcast some songs even though they did not make the list, such as "When You're Falling," a collaboration between Peter Gabriel and Afro-Celt Sound System that had fictional lyrics too eerily similar to the truth.
In 1942 the United States government issued a list of suggested wartime practices for radio broadcasters. In the interest of national safety, it advised radio programmers to ban weather forecasts, which could help the enemy plan a bombing attack, and to avoid man-on-the-street interviews and listener music requests in case the interviewee or caller was a spy conveying a coded message to the enemy in words or song.
The new list is clearly different. Instead of promoting national safety, its intended aim is to ensure national mental health, though First Amendment supporters may point to it as the first shadowy blacklist in what President Bush says will be a war against terrorism. Radio programmers and producers outside of Clear Channel said that they found the list bewildering. "There are obviously songs on there that people could take the wrong way," said Michael Stark, a freelance producer who works on "The Tom Joyner Morning Show" on the ABC Radio Network. "But there are just as many that could be used to heal and bring context to the tragedy. It seems from the list that they don't want anything that comes close to making waves."
In an odd anomaly on the list, a specific song or songs are mentioned for each artist except for one: the politically minded rap-rock group Rage Against the Machine. For this band, the list simply considers "all Rage Against the Machine songs" questionable.
Tom Morello, the guitarist in Rage Against the Machine, said via e-mail that the band's music "is diametrically opposed to the kind of horrible violence committed against innocent people" that occurred in the Sept. 11 attacks, "which we condemn in the strongest possible terms."
"If our songs are 'questionable' in any way," he added, "it is that they encourage people to question the kind of ignorance that breeds intolerance -- intolerance which can lead to censorship and the extinguishing of our civil liberties, or at its extremes can lead to the kind of violence we witnessed" last week.
Nina Crowley, the executive director of the Massachusetts Music Industry Coalition, a free-speech organization, worried that this was just the beginning of suppression of artistic expression and that politicians and corporations that have been trying to restrict access to popular music may expand and perpetuate this list. "President Bush said to be prepared for a long engagement," she said, "so this could potentially continue and grow, and these songs could be removed from the public ear for a long time. This list has eliminated songs about flying and falling, but when something else happens, do we remove all the songs about trains and whatever else?"