America: A Tribute To Heroes was a true television feat–put together merely 10 days after the 9-11 attacks, presented without commercials on over 35 channels, raising millions of dollars for the families of WTC victims, and showcasing some of America’s most famous musicians at their most powerful, evocative and vulnerable. Bruce Springsteen, lit by candlelight, singing a chilling, nearly-in-tears version of “My City Of Ruins” is probably the last great music moment we shared together as a nation before we all started absorbing “great music moments” a day late on grainy YouTube clips. It was a truly amazing, inspiring event that instilled hope in both America and American music. My gratitude and appreciation goes out to the organizers.
I just want to make one minor point.
You know that awesome lineup you put together. With like Bruce Springsteen and Sting and Neil Young and Tom Petty and Paul Simon and Willie Nelson and doofus Fred jerk-off aw yeah so come an get it break ya fuckin face tonight awright pardna keep on rollin bay-beh Durst, and Billy Joel? One of those things on that list didn’t belong. Do you need me to circle it? (Spoiler: It begins with a D, ends with a T, and is very close to “DON’T!”)
I know you guys needed to raise money and all, but if y’all were looking for some 17-year-old’s allowance, couldn’t you have gotten Willa Ford or Bif Naked or whatever “the kids” listened to in 2001? OK, I’m being harsh. You raised 30 million dollars for charity and that’s incredible. Really, you guys could have had anyone for all I care. Like Insane Clown Posse or the “Mambo Number 5” guy or the turd from Goo Goo Dolls–oh fuck, he was there too?
OK, so Fred Durst, Johnny Rzzeeznnk or whatever the fuck his name is, and the little face-painty furry guy from Limp Bizkit (wearing his very best Radiohead T-shirt, no less–tres 2001) came out to pay their respects. How would a guy mainly known for telling ex-girlfriends to stick a Mrs. Fields up their assholes handle this sensitive night? As it turns out, very tunelessly.
Too be fair to Mr. Durst, he’s damn, damn, damn good at writing an angry break-shit rap-rock song. It’s just that watching him do anything else is so infuriating and mesmerizing and amazing that a word has yet to be invented to properly describe it. I suggest “sadlarious.” How else would you describe how he directs a music video or plays a guitar solo or has sexual intercourse?
That’s why watching him sing was so excruciating. He can’t fucking do it. Luckily the smart folks at America: A Tribute To Heroes knew enough to bury him in more reverb than Jesus And Mary Chain. However, there was no filter to keep him from staring directly into the camera and looking “deep.” For the occasion he brought new lyrics to Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” so they were less about Syd Barrett freaking the fuck out and more about, you know, America. The sentiment of the new lyrics was surely agreeable for the moment and not offensive in any way (“So, do you think we can change/Everybody that hates/Before it’s too late?”) but it’s kind of annoying that dudes didn’t just pick another of the billions of songs in existence.