The Ten Best Songs Clear Channel "Banned" In The Days Following The September 11 Attacks

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Courtesy of our sister paper up in New York.
Ten years ago today, three days after the September 11 attacks, Clear Channel sent out a mass email to its over 1,000 affiliate stations. The email included a list of songs with lyrics and/or titles that Clear Channel considered questionable in the wake of the attacks.

Songs on the list had titles and lyrical themes that included fire, guns, weapons in general, New York City, death, the Middle East, airplanes, anything too depressing and anything too political. When word got out about the email, news sources erroneously reported that the now-infamous "Clear Channel Memorandum" was a list of songs that the radio conglomerate banned from airplay on its stations. Clear Channel didn't make things any better when they denied the memorandum's existence entirely.

A minor furor erupted -- especially amongst left-wingers -- who love throwing shade at the sometimes Republican-affiliated Clear Channel. Was this censorship, or was Clear Channel simply being sensitive to listeners during trying times?

The truth about the memorandum eventually came out, courtesy of some research done by snopes.com, who found out two things: One, the memorandum did exist, despite Clear Channel's denials; two, the songs on the list weren't actually banned from radio airplay, although Clear Channel strongly suggested that its stations eliminate the songs from their airplay (the final decision was left up to the radio stations themselves). Many opted in, a few didn't, and that was that.

In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the Clear Channel Memorandum, we've collected a list of the top 10 songs considered "questionable" by the radio conglomerate in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

We'd love to hear your opinion, so comment away. Do you think Clear Channel was right to send out this suggested list? Clear Channel is notorious for limiting playlists anyways; their affiliate stations aren't really known for playing controversial stuff in the first place. Was the uproar over the memorandum a moot point? Click on the jump, see our list, and give your two cents in the comments.



10. Every single song by Rage Against the Machine. OK, we get it. Rage are very political and all. But every single song? Really, Clear Channel?



9. Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Travelin' Band." There's a mention of airplanes in this song, but we're not sure if anyone would have been that offended by it. Because it's been a decade since the attacks, we sometimes forget how sensitive and weird people really did get after this awful, generation-defining event.



8. Fontella Bass, "Rescue Me." The memorandum appears to be the result of executives scanning their airplay list and selecting songs based on title alone. Hence this selection.



7. Tom Petty, "Free Fallin." We've heard many independent music folks lament Clear Channel's seeming lack of knowledge of anything that has to do with music. This song's inclusion is, perhaps, proof positive of this. The title includes the word "falling," but it's a song about a commitment-phobic guy, for crying out loud.



6. Louis Armstrong, "Wonderful World." We think this tune would be inspiring to folks going through hard times; however, its inclusion in the movie Good Morning Vietnam, where it was played over a sequence showing the horrors of war, may have gotten it a spot on the list.

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13 comments
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Criathou
Criathou

Fire and Rain is obvious: "Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground "

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

In Europe, Armed Forces Network stopped playing Phil Collins', "Just Another Day In Paradise," even though it is about homelessness. They thought people would confuse it with a jihadist 's desire to martyrdom....

Wordb
Wordb

Yes, this is ridiculous, yet, I bet most of you morons still listen to ClearChannel stations. More like FearChannel.

mynameisURL
mynameisURL

What a coincidence. Just this morning, whilst I was pouring syrup onto my "Freedom Toast", I was contemplating the effects of the "Bangles" music on Govm't policy in the M.E.

just sayin'
just sayin'

But it was ok to play Public Enemy's "911 is a Joke"?

TC
TC

Nice attempt to link the Clear Channel corporate decision to the GOP with zero proof.  Sad people think of sites like this as the ruins of what was once "journalism"

David Wilson
David Wilson

Saying that all the cops are at the donut shop might be the reason for the Bangles tune.

Nblakeslee
Nblakeslee

fire and rain is a song about a woman who died in a plane crash, fyi

zorro
zorro

cheer clannel thought it was 'fire and plane'...

G_David
G_David

"we sometimes forget how sensitive and weird people really did get after this awful, generation-defining event"

I think this is the telling part of the story.  After 10 years, I think most of us have really forgotten how terrifying, confusing and totally f'ed up we thought the world was going to be from then on.  Thankfully it hasn't turned out that way, but watching some of the specials on 9/11 over the weekend really put me back in that weird place.

Having said that, I have no idea WHAT Clear Channel execs were thinking with some of those choices. 

ChariceS.
ChariceS.

I'm at a loss to understand any of it...I would think listeners would call in if something really terrible was played and, at that point, they would have pulled a song from rotation anyway. 

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