arts 05.4.04

Two Songs on the Aftermath of September 11th

Two singer-songwriters have recently released albums that include haunting, elegiac songs on the aftermath of September 11th. Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Grand Central Station" is about a man working on the pile at Ground Zero who hears the voices of the dead. Lucy Kaplansky's "Land of the Living" recalls the city's pervasive grief and fear as experienced during an anguishing taxi ride.


GRAND CENTRAL STATION by Mary Chapin Carpenter

Got my workclothes on full of sweat and dirt
All this holy dust upon my face and shirt
Heading uptown now just as the shifts are changing
To Grand Central Station
Got my lunchbox, got my hard hat in my hand
I ain't no hero mister, just a working man
And all these voices keep on asking me to take them
To Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station

I want to stand beneath the clock one more time
Want to wait upon the platform for the Hudson Line
I guess you're never really all alone
Or too far from the pull of home
And the stars upon that painted dome still shine

I made my way out on to 42nd street
I lit a cigarette and stared down at my feet
And imagined all the ones that ever stood here waiting
At Grand Central Station, Grand Central Station

Now Hercules is staring down at me
Next to him is Minerva and Mercury
I nod to them and start my crawl, flyers covering every wall
Faces of the missing all I see

Tomorrow I'll be back there working on the pile
Going in and coming out single file
Before my job is done there's one more trip I'm making
To Grand Central Station, Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station, Grand Central Station





LAND OF THE LIVING by Lucy Kaplansky

Late afternoon back in New York town
Waking up as the wheels touch down
Pick up my guitar and walk away
Wish I was going home to stay

Line of taxis, I wait my turn
Tar and asphalt, exhaust and fumes
Beside the road on a patch of ground
Taxis drivers are kneeling down

Beneath the concrete sky I watch them pray
While the people of the world hurry on their way
I think they're praying for us all today
And the stories that fell from the sky that day

This is the land of the living
This is the land that's mine
She still watches over Manhattan
She's still holding onto that torch for life

Back home fire's still burning, I can see it in the air
Pictures of faces posted everywhere
They say "hazel eyes, chestnut hair
Mother of two missing down there"

I pass the firemen on duty tonight
Carpets of flowers in candlelight
And thank you in a child's scrawl
Taped to the Third Street firehouse wall

There's shadows of the lost on the faces I see
Brothers and strangers on this island of grief
There's death in the air but there's life on this street
There's life on this street

This is the land of the living
This is the land that's mine
She still watches over Manhattan
She's still holding onto that torch for life

Then I got in a taxi, said "Hudson Street please"
He started the meter and he looked at me
I glanced at his name on the back of the seat
And I looked out the window at the ghost filled streets

I noticed cuts on his hands and his face
And I said "You're bleeding, are you okay?"
He said "I'm not so good, got beat up today
And I'm not one of them no matter what they say

I'm just worried about my family
My wife's in the house and she's scared to leave"
And I didn't know what to say
I didn't know what to say
But I said a prayer for him anyway

This is the land of the living
This is the land that's mine
She still watches over Manhattan
She's still holding onto that torch for life
Rebuilding


Central Park South (from 2012)

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