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Saturday, September 11, 2010

"Imagine": 2001 to Today

It was Neil Young's finest hour.

On September 21, 2001, just days after the 9-11 terror attack on the United States, Neil Young performed John Lennon's "Imagine" on the broadcast musical benefit telethon "America: A Tribute to Heroes".

Simulcast live from London, New York and Los Angeles on the four major TV networks and the Internet, the program was seen by an estimated 89 million viewers and netted roughly $230 million in donations.

For many, Young's performance was emotionally wrenching and heart felt. Performing on a grand piano and accompanied by a small orchestra of violins, Young's rendition of Lennon's "Imagine" spoke to many of us who were suffering from the terrible tragedies in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Notably, Young changed the lyrics from "imagine no possessions, to "I wonder if *I* can". (thanks Marilyn)

Those in the studio that night, reported that Young appeared to be on the verge of tears upon completing the song. Pulse Magazine wrote that Young's performance of "Imagine" on the Benefit telecast was "one of those moments you never forget."

tribute_heroes lennon_peace_liberty imagine



More on John Lennon and the song "Imagine" and lyrics.

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At 9/11/2010 06:45:00 AM, Blogger David said...

9 years gone so fast...

Hope the world never has to witness something like that again.

At 9/11/2010 10:27:00 AM, Blogger james said...

Thanks for posting this, Thrasher. It's a very moving performance of an amazing (and amazingly appropriate) song.

I've always wondered if Neil knew that this song had been banned from most American radio stations by Clear Channel Communications following the attacks on 9/11. Lyrically, the song is a perfect choice. But I also remain curious if Neil was also choosing this song as a stand against censorship, too.

Regardless, it is a beautiful rendition of a classic song.

At 9/11/2010 12:06:00 PM, Blogger doc said...

Neil's best performances and inspirations seem to be when he has suffered personal loss of heartbreak..his most memorable songs and albums seem to come out after tragedy,turmoil or despair.

Just an observation.


At 9/11/2010 02:22:00 PM, Blogger Greg Mantho said...

James, Lennon's version of Imagine was banned? I never heard this before. If it is in fact the case, how do we know this? Did CCC ever give an explanation? I had heard that Neil tried to come up with one of his own songs to sum things up, but couldn't and felt that Imagine was the most appropriate thing he could do. Just what I heard, don't know the whole story. I just remember being in the car headed for the east coast, and a friend excitedly telephoning me so I could "hear" it. Thank God for YouTube, I was able to hear and see the performance several different times. It's such a heartfelt moment, so universal. It doesn't pander, just touches on a deep, timeless level. I love the facial expressions, and subtle emphasis that Neil gives during the last verse and refrain.

The wreckers are still having their day, nine years later, just as they have for thousands of years, and just as they yet will for some time to come. As described elsewhere, they are enraged and filled with fury, because they know their "time is short". Call me a "dreamer", but I have faith that the truth of this song will come to pass, not through the efforts of any wolf in sheep's clothing secular or non-secular world organization, but by the earth itself, by Life protecting Itself, and by Creation being true to It's eternal promise. Another conversation, I know, but that's my faith. In the meantime, songs and performances like this, and the fact that "I'm not the only one", help to sustain me.

A Friend Of Yours

At 9/11/2010 04:13:00 PM, Blogger james said...

Greg, here is more info on all the banned songs:

It's noted on this link that there is a dispute over whether the songs were actually, technically banned. But I am going to venture that when the corporate elite submit a "suggestion" of this sort to their underlings, it basically amounts to censorship.

At 9/11/2010 07:21:00 PM, Blogger TomCrac said...

I HATE this day. Hey may be right that Neil could'nt come up a tune that night...No doubt that the cauldrons were bubbling over deep down inside..."just leave the driving to us"!

At 9/11/2010 08:06:00 PM, Blogger Greg Mantho said...

Wow, I just saw the list of "suggestions" for radio stations not to play. "When Will I See You Again"? "Get Together"? "Fire And Rain"? I would have loved to be a fly on the inside of the head of the exec/s who made that decision. I guess we could go a lot of places with this one, but I think I'll just leave it alone, except to say it is a sad commentary. I would also like to know if Neil was aware of this, although given the circumstances I think he probably went with "Imagine" based on its merits alone. It'd be interesting to think of one of his that would have been more appropriate, but in the end I think he got it right- especially if exposure to the song was limited by CCC's decision.

A Friend Of Yours

At 9/11/2010 11:18:00 PM, Blogger ShittyHorse said...

Kudos Greg- great comment.

What a song! And a great performance. I remember watching this live then and it blew me away-the fact that Neil wanted to contribute by performing and instead of using the platform to play one of his own compositions he played Imagine- perhaps the MOST appropriate of songs for the occasion, at a time when we were being inundated with little American flag stickers and cries of bloodshed in the name of patriotism. Not to open a can of worms but in the weeks and months following 9-11 it seemed even the most staunch of Doves became blood thirsty Hawks (myself included). We were pissed man- and with good reason. This was a terrible tragedy for the people, but I believe our sorrow, anger and confusion was taken advantage of (my opinion). Imagine receiving radio air-play did not go along with the required post-911 mindset, but I think this performance was a simple gesture reminding us to not lose sight of that idyllic promised land that is always within reach- if we want it.

At 9/12/2010 09:22:00 AM, Blogger Jill said...

Don`t forget that Neil wrote `Let`s Roll` in memory of Todd Beamer and the other passengers of Flight 93, who lost their lives bravely rushing the terrorists and diverting the plane from it`s intended target, saving more lives. I believe there was some controversy about that song too as Beamer`s wife tried to sue Neil for profiting from the disaster. Anyway, here`s great video of the song with Booker T, etc -


At 9/12/2010 10:09:00 AM, Blogger Mr. Corn said...

Thanks for the great comment Greg. I agree completely.


At 9/14/2010 11:20:00 PM, Blogger Thomas said...

Just saw this on stereogum,

Not what I expected. It's f$##en awesome.


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