Thursday, September 11, 2003


Several people have written in to flag up the project galvanised by Suzanne Vega and The Greenwich Village Songwriter's Exchange. 'The Vigil' is dedicated to the victims of 9/11, but it doesn't sell short the confusion and ambiguity that has flowed from those awful events. I haven't had a chance to hear it myself, but the review seems to paint an honest picture. The album can be purchased here.

"As it has for seemingly every human calamity since Vietnam and Bangladesh, the music industry rallied itself in the aftermath of 9/11, though with an often remarkable self-restraint (one shudders to think how the solemn dignity of 'America: A Tribute to Heroes' might have been tainted with but a little 'We Are the World' egotism). But while the half-life of the biz's conscience generally parallels its attention span, this human-scaled project--conceived by Suzanne Vega and performed by fellow members of her Greenwich Village Songwriter's Exchange--distinguishes itself by being historically retrospective and personally introspective at the same instant.

"Though time has blunted the raw rage, the perspectives are still powerful: Christine Lavin details the descending gloom of her neighborhood firehouse as it discovered the true toll of the day; Bob Hillman offers a surreal, bravely whimsical take on watching the towers fall over and over again on TV, and, on "Communists," a tongue-in-cheek lament for the idealistic foes of old; Ina May Wool's "Boxcutters and Knives" coolly ticks off the weapons of terror and counter-terror with a delicate delivery that only makes the irony all the more insistent. Vega's "It Hit Home" is a public confession of naked emotion and mixed feelings that's as powerful as it is typically straightforward. It's anthology as prism for intellect and emotion, detachment, and even pretense--a much-needed reminder that this tragedy was, and is, national, yet remains intensely personal. Proceeds will go to the Jeff Hardy Memorial Fund (Hardy was a songwriter--and brother of Songwriter Exchange founder Jack Hardy--who worked as a chef in the WTC and was killed on 9/11)." (c) Jerry McCulley and

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