By PETER COOPER
As the world's chief exporter of country music, Nashville has
learned that the aftermath of the terror attacks creates a tough
Country radio programmers reshuffled playlists, and musicians,
record companies and publicists are walking a thin line between
offering consumers fittingly patriotic music and appearing
Radio has responded to the surge of national spirit by
programming patriotic material, but the favored songs have been from
That's despite a flood of new ''special releases,'' many of which
pledge some proceeds to victim relief funds, arriving on the desks
of radio executives and music critics and hoping to become the next
God Bless the USA.
''We've gotten literally hundreds of songs,'' said Mike Moore,
program director at WSIX-FM. ''We're doing everything we can to
listen to what comes in.''
Among the hundreds is Freedom, a quickly released CD from
native Canadian and current Nashvillian Joni Wilson. The disc's
cover depicts an American flag, and the Red Cross will receive all
proceeds after Wilson recoups production costs.
The song was written well before the attacks, and its lyrics
marry a somewhat patriotic chorus to less overtly applicable verses
(''Can't wait for you to come back again / And do that thing you
do''). The disc, sold at Tower Records' West End Avenue location and
through Wilson's Web site, also carries a version that includes
words from recent news broadcasts.
Moore has heard and played Freedom, but he isn't planning
to add the song to WSIX's rotation. But Wilson said other stations
in Nashville, Detroit, Philadelphia and other cities are spinning
''It's the weirdest thing,'' she said. ''I feel almost guilty in
a way. For me, personally, it has kicked my nice, powerful little
team (of industry cohorts) into gear. They're shopping my deal
''So it's a bittersweet thing. It's bitter because of the
circumstances that make people need the song, but sweet also to know
that I've got something to offer. And the only way I wanted to
promote this is if the money could go to the Red Cross.''
Lee Greenwood's God Bless the USA became a hit in the
mid-'80s, during a time of relative peace, then reappeared on
playlists during the Gulf War in the early 1990s.
After the Sept. 11 attacks, it was back on the airwaves. God
Bless the USA is again one of the most played country songs in
America, residing in the Top 25 of Billboard's country
singles chart. The song also is being heavily downloaded from
MP3.com, and Greenwood's Web site is getting much heavier traffic
''I'm hurt, like every American, by the attack,'' said Greenwood,
who has been jetting around the country in the past two weeks,
singing the song in concerts, at sporting events and even at the
site of the New York attacks.
''They don't call it 'Ground Zero.' They call it 'The Pile.'
There's a ship there, where people eat, and I went there to shake
hands. That didn't work out very well at first. These people were
tired, and they'd been there for weeks without pulling any new
people out, and they were kind of eating with their heads down. I
wasn't getting much done.
''Then I stood up on the third deck and began to sing, with no
microphone or megaphone. I knew that I could move them with my
Greenwood has performed God Bless the USA through times of
ease and crisis, in nearly every one of his concerts since 1983.
''I'm not reveling in the success of a piece of material that
makes me money,'' he said. ''This thing (the attack) hit me like a
sledgehammer. And if people want to hear God Bless the USA,
then I want to sing it. If people are moved by it, I'm moved as
As Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn says, things that seemed corny
three weeks ago now bring tears to people's eyes.
Aaron Tippin's Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle
Fly has been rushed to radio, and it made its debut at No. 34 on
the Billboard country singles chart. Tippin, whose You've
Got To Stand For Something was a popular anthem during the Gulf
War, wrote the song 2½ years ago with Kenny Beard and Casey
Beathard, and recorded it Sept. 15-16. Tippin sang the song
yesterday on Country Music Television's Most Wanted Live, and
a CMT video was recorded during that appearance.
Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly will be in
stores Oct. 2, with a rerecorded version of You've Got To Stand
for Something included as the ''B'' side. All of Tippin's
proceeds will go to the Red Cross.
''Aaron didn't want to make a dime from this,'' said his
publicist, Lisa Bell. ''He waived everything.''
Other timely country songs include a multi-artist version of
America the Beautiful, Faith Hill's rendition of The Star
Spangled Banner and David Ball's Riding With Private Malone,
a ghost story about a soldier. Charlie Daniels is hoping radio
will take kindly to an updated version of his 21-year-old In
Brooks & Dunn's Only in America got substantial radio
play before Sept. 11, and the duo opened all of the past summer's
concerts with it.
''It's totally different, playing that song now,'' Brooks said.
''After the attack, we thought about canceling. You know, just
taking the time to be quiet. We're as devastated as everybody else
is about this, and the last thing in the world you want to do is
look like you're trying to capitalize on a tragedy.
''But then we decided that maybe there were a lot of people
interested in going out and sharing and listening to music. We
opened with Only in America, and the response was just
incredible. Everyone's looking for a flag to wave right now, and