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Week 63 | The Concert for New York City (2001)

The liner notes for this double-CD set mention the “healing power of music.”  Corny, but true.  I didn’t attend the Concert for New York, but shortly after their 9/11 terrorist attacks I saw the Buffalo Philharmonic perform Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.  While the timing was coincidental, the work somehow seemed exactly appropriate.  And before the Beethoven, conductor JoAnn Falletta strode purposefully across the stage and led the orchestra in a rendition of the National Anthem.  It was the single most indelible musical moment I have experienced.  So, the healing power of music.

Bowie dealt with 9/11 through music, too.  His album, “Reality,” and specifically the song “New Killer Star” contemplate the post-attack world.  “Heathen” didn’t, but it seemed like it did.  Another musical coincidence.  But Bowie’s most direct musical response to the attack on his adopted home city of New York was his participation in the Concert for New York.

Bowie contributed only two of the 32 songs on the concert album, but his contributions kick off the first of two discs and set the tone.  Bowie’s live performances of Simon and Garfunkel’s, “America” and his own, “Heroes,” are among my favorite live Bowie performances.  What follows are several other excellent live performances from a variety of artists including Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Eric Clapton, The Who, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Elton John, Paul McCartney and many others.    

It was at this concert where Bowie declared himself a New Yorker.  And he was.  Bowie spent the last 20 years of his life in New York.  He lived in Manhattan and owned a house in the Catskills.  Following his death, I attempted to get a vista from a nearby Catskill mountain named for Bowie, however I got word back from the attorney who represents Bowie’s estate that’s his family objected to drawing attention to the fact that they still own that house.  Nonetheless, while Britain honored Bowie with stamps (among other honors), I think there is still a place for him among those his adopted state honors in some permanent way.

Bowie certainly honored New York with his performance in this concert. 

A similar, also excellent concert was held following Super Storm Sandy in 2012, but that concert did not include Bowie.

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