9/11 remembrance

It seems to be mandatory for everyone to post some 9/11 remembrance piece today. So...

In the fall of 2001, I had a Tuesday happy hour gig at Leadbetter's Tavern in Fells Point. September 11 was a Tuesday that year.

I figured that music would be cancelled, out of the question, on a day like that. But after watching CNN and listening to the radio at home alone all day, I wanted to be around other people. So, grabbing my music gear just in case, I went downtown.

The streets were empty. But the bar was packed: no one wanted to be alone.

As it turned out, I ended up playing. And so what I remember most is the feeling of being the center of attention (in between the TV reports at least) at a time like that, of having fifty or sixty scared and angry people focusing on you.

I also remember two young men, Marines who knew their leave was just about to end. The younger one, maybe just barely 21, was all gung-ho; his buddy, a little older, was quieter, shaking his head, knowing the shit was about to get deep. I remember how they both groaned after Bush gave a speech with a deer-in-the-headlights look on his face. They tipped good, and I played any request of theirs I could. I wonder where they are today, hope they're okay.

A few years later, I was finally able to write a song about my experience that evening:

"No Words of Wisdom"
Tom Swiss

Everybody's looking at me
They ask me to sing and play
But I've got no words of wisdom
For a day like today

I came down here with my guitar
To help you pass the time
We could have a drink and have some fun
And sing these songs of mine

Now everybody's looking at me
They ask me to sing and play
But I've got no words of wisdom
For a day like today

Now the shit has hit the fan
And I'm the one on stage
What am I supposed to say
To all this fear and rage?

Everybody's looking at me
They ask me to sing and play
But I've got no words of wisdom
For a day like today

On the TV above the bar
We watch the towers fall
We sit and we wonder, "Is this the time
For the ending of it all?"

And the lovely lady behind the bar
Asks me to sing and play
But I've got no words of wisdom
For a day like today

Two fine young men, they're U.S. Marines
Sitting there at the bar
Soon they'll have to go and fight
They put money in my tip jar

Me, I try to be a peaceful man
But what the hell can I say?
I've got no words of wisdom
For a day like today

If there is a god, I do not know
What he thinks of us down here
The best I can do, is suggest
We all have another beer

Everybody's looking to me
To soothe their minds when I play
But I've got no words of wisdom
For a day like today

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