Tuesday, August 06, 2002

PLANES AND CARS: So, as if by someone planned this sort of thing, the first anniversary of September 11th - which this year will be held on September 11th - comes into line with the fifth anniversary of Dead Diana Day; more or less as New York announces some plans of what will come to replace the WTC, to cries of "erm... is that it?", the British government get round to showing off the sketches for a permanent Diana memorial (we do things slower in the 51st state) to cries of 'erm... is that it?'; and while Sep'ven tunes start to pile up at the Tower till... ah, but this is where the linkage ends.
Okay, the linkage mayn't seem especially strong, the cold-blooded murder of thousands set against the accidental death of a couple of hugely over-privileged toffs, but in terms of numb response, the only reference point close to after World Trade Centre was the after Diana effect. And that's what's strange.
Springsteen has, as we all know, spun a number one album out of the death; meanwhile, responses to the outrages and their effects as diverse as Steve Earle's and Toby Keith's have in turn inspired debate, and will probably create new music. The Strokes pulled and replaced New York City Cops from their set; Primal Scream disowned the entire concept of Bombing the Pentagon. Coldplay took their album off in a supposedly entirely different direction. Michael Jackson chose his special antibacteriological telephone to get some pals over to make a charidee single; the HIV song with Britney, Dursty et al suddenly had to wedge some references to Sepven in. And so on.
Now, set against what happened last year in New York and the questionable behaviour of the US government before and since, the death of the lovely Princess David wasn't going to amount to much. But what's remarkable is how little in the way of pop culture the most bizarre fortnight in recent British history generated. Yes, there is that opera (which is hardly 'pop'), and the dreadful Candle In The Wind (second mention on No Rock today, which is disturbing) - although that was just a rewrite anyway. And, of course, that sickly Chicken Shed thing. But that was - as far as we can recall - it. For two weeks, the nation clutched its teddy bears to its chest and cried real crocodile tears; everytime a flower bloomed it was cut off and forced into a bouquet to be tossed down outside Kensington Palace; the usual patterns of TV were replaced with rolling sniffles; a radio one dj mysteriously contracted a very long period of food poisoning after playing 'there is a light that never goes out.' And yet we've thought for ages, and can't think of a single song about those times. Now, it's possible we'll be contradicted in the comments section, but we find it kind of curious. No schmaltzy ballad from Jayne McDonald called Carpet of Floral Tears; no tart parallel-drawing from Billy Bragg under a 'How many other mothers died that night.' There are songs about the Falklands, songs about Thatcher, songs, even songs about IRA bombs. And yet, here is one of those landmarks, and nobody wrote a tune. It's almost as if we're trying to deny the way the country reacted, to pretend that, as a nation, we never lost our perspective at all - that our neighbours, our families, saw that it was just another celeb car smash - James Dean, Marc Bolan, Diana Windsor.
But you know what they say about forgetting the past...

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