Sonic Disruptions or Popular Patriotism: 9/11’s Immediate Impact on American Popular Music
Williams, John S.
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AbstractOn September 11, 2001, members of Congress, standing in front of the Capitol building, spontaneously broke out into a heartfelt rendition of "God Bless America." From that day on, music played an important role in society as related to 9/11 and the subsequent War on Terror. This thesis aims to provide an extended deliberation on the conspicuous and varied popular music of this era. By studying post-9/11 musicians and musical expression during the lead-up to the Iraq War and the 2004 presidential election, an understanding can be developed of the culture within which they emerged and place this understanding within a broader historical context. Two main questions are explored in relation to this music: How did popular music in the post-9/11 era shape the social climate within which it existed, and how was post-9/11 popular music shaped by that social climate? This thesis assesses the main themes found in popular music related to the War on Terror during Bush’s presidency. Using content analysis, this thesis works to explain how these themes were framed in the music itself. Through analysis of historical documents, this thesis demonstrates how these musical reactions either resonated or clashed with the cultural climate of the audience and the nation. It also explores the ways that that popular music of this era closely reflected the range of societal responses to 9/11, the wars, the president, and the state of American society, and thereby provides a window into the overall cultural climate of this tumultuous time. While popular music itself was heavily influenced by the political climate, the research concludes that it, conversely, affected little to no change on socio-political activities.
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