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The Concert for New York City

The Concert for New York City
Genre Benefit concert
Dates October 20, 2001
Location(s) Madison Square Garden
Founded by Paul McCartney

The Concert for New York City was a benefit concert, featuring many famous musicians, that took place on October 20, 2001 at Madison Square Garden in New York City in response to the September 11 attacks. Aside from performing for charity, the concert was an attempt to honor the first responders from the New York City Fire Department and New York City Police Department, their families, and those lost in the attacks and those who had worked in the ongoing rescue and recovery efforts in the weeks since that time.

The concert was organized by Paul McCartney and included many of his legendary British contemporaries, including The Who, Rolling Stones bandmates Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, David Bowie, Elton John, and Eric Clapton. American artists included Bon Jovi, Jay-Z, Destiny's Child, the Backstreet Boys, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Melissa Etheridge, Five for Fighting, Goo Goo Dolls, John Mellencamp with Kid Rock, and a humorous performance by Adam Sandler as "Operaman," singing a medley covering the events of 9/11, the greatness of New York City, and about Osama Bin Laden being a coward. Paul Shaffer acted as Musical Director for the show and various celebrities and political figures including Howard Stern and Rudy Giuliani appeared between the acts.

Many athletes also appeared between the acts including Joe Torre, whose Yankees were on their way to competing in their fourth consecutive World Series. The concert also included several short films made by New York City's most notable filmmakers such as Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, and Spike Lee.

Over 60 stars that participated in the concert signed unique memorabilia backstage at Madison Square Garden that were later auctioned off to support the Robin Hood Foundation. The autographed items included 3 large posters of the concert and 3 customized 24" drumheads. Other items included a complete drumset and guitar.


  • Audience reaction 1
  • Lineup and songs 2
  • Short films 3
    • "Sounds from a Town I Love" 3.1
  • Critical reaction 4
  • Broadcast 5
  • CD release 6
    • Disc one 6.1
    • Disc two 6.2
  • Home video release 7
  • See also 8
  • Notes 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Audience reaction

Autographed drumhead from the concert.

Much of the crowd itself was extremely emotional, with victims' family members and colleagues holding up portraits of the dead. Three speakers were booed: actress Susan Sarandon (for plugging New York mayoralty candidate Mark Green), actor Richard Gere (for speaking about non-violent tolerance), and New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (before saying anything at all). Hillary Clinton did not overtly acknowledge the reaction, and spoke over the noise of the crowd by raising her voice. (In contrast, her husband former President Bill Clinton also appeared, but was very positively received by the crowd.) Richard Gere did acknowledge the crowd's jeering at his pacifist stance, stating, "That's apparently unpopular right now, but that's all right." The repeats and DVD version were digitally edited to remove the booing, and replaced it with dubbed cheering for Hillary Clinton.[1]

Adam Sandler's performance of Operaman was considered by many to be one of the highlights of the night. He sang a humorous song about Rudy Giuliani's term as mayor ending, the New York Yankees who were about to start playing in the 2001 ALCS, the musical acts of the night so far (which included how Destiny's Child gave Adam Sandler "bone-ah", and how Osama Bin Laden is a coward) which included the line "Osama says he's tough, Osama says he's brave/Then tell me why Osama is shitting in a cave!"

Musically, the audience responded most fervently to The Who, roaring as they came on stage with a roiling "Who Are You", drowning out the band on the famous "It's only teenage wasteland" refrain of "Baba O'Riley," and reaching a peak of excitement with "Won't Get Fooled Again." The backdrop for the band consisted of an American flag alongside the British flag, showing solidarity. Vocalist Roger Daltrey's final words to the crowd of first responders and their families were: "We could never follow what you did." This performance would turn out to be bassist John Entwistle's final performance in America with The Who; he died of a heart attack only eight months later. Multi-instrumentalist Jon Carin, who had worked with the band during the group's 1996–1997 tours, played keyboards at this performance in place of longtime keyboardist John "Rabbit" Bundrick.

Other highlights included Irish people, Osama Bin Laden, you can kiss my royal, Irish ass!" which was met with wild cheering and applause. Moran removed his cap and concluded with, "This is my face, bitch!" which was, again, met with cheers from the crowd.

When Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, the two surviving members of The Who, were given the Kennedy Center Honors in December 2008 for their contributions to American culture, a tribute performance of "Baba O'Riley" was delivered by Rob Thomas. In the end refrain of "teenage wasteland", a full choir of FDNY firemen was revealed behind a curtain, all bellowing the refrain as a token of gratitude for The Who's performance at The Concert for New York City seven years prior.

Lineup and songs

In order of appearance:[2]

Short films

The following short films were shown during the concert, here sorted by director:[2]

"Sounds from a Town I Love"

"Sounds from a Town I Love" (sometimes incorrectly referred to as "Sounds from the Town I Love")[3][4][5] is a 2001 comedy short film of approximately three minutes, written and directed by Woody Allen. The film was first shown during The Concert for New York City.[6] The film consists purely of cell-phone conversation snippets of twenty-two random people walking through the streets of New York City.[6] Ranging from complainers to neurotic worriers conversing about bizarre or amusing situations, they and their comments are unrelated to one another. The film ends with a message from Woody Allen: "I love this town."

John Cusack introduced the film with a message from Woody Allen: "I apologize in advance for my short movie. The cause was so worthwhile that I could not say no when approached to contribute something to this wonderful show. I did the best I could. If you hate it, I will try to make it up to you somehow in the future." In addition to longtime Allen collaborators Marshall Brickman and Tony Roberts, among the people seen in the film are Austin Pendleton, Griffin Dunne, Michael Emerson, Bebe Neuwirth, and Celia Weston.[7]

Critical reaction

In 2004 Rolling Stone magazine selected this concert, along with the earlier America: A Tribute to Heroes telethon, as one of the 50 moments that changed rock and roll. It was also voted the #4 greatest moment in the history of Madison Square Garden.[8] On December 7, 2008, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey of The Who received Kennedy Center Honors from the President of the United States, and after several musicians performed their music, the finale was a surprise chorus of New York City police officers and rescue personnel who had been touched by their performance.[9]


The concert was broadcast live on VH1 October 20, 2001, and over $35 million was raised. An additional $275,000 was also raised with a connecting auction. The five hour broadcast was executive produced by Greg Sills & Fred Graver. The producer was Paul Flattery and the director was Louis J Horvitz (who has directed many of the Oscar broadcasts). It was written by Stephen Pouliot and Paul Flattery.

The entire uncut version of the 512 hour concert was rebroadcast on VH1 Classic January 1, 2008. It was nominated for an EMMY for best music/comedy special (Greg Sills, Fred Graver and Paul Flattery) and for best production design (by SNL vet Keith Raywood).

A one-hour highlight show was broadcast on CBS the following month. An album and DVD of the event was released in January 2002.[2]

An encore of the entire concert ran on September 11, 2011 to commemorate the 10th anniversary, commercial free and unedited, from 4-10pm.

CD release

A double CD of the event was released by Sony on November 27, 2001, containing 32 tracks.

Disc one

  1. "America" – David Bowie
  2. "Heroes" – David Bowie
  3. "Livin' on a Prayer" – Bon Jovi
  4. "Wanted Dead Or Alive" – Bon Jovi
  5. "It's My Life" – Bon Jovi
  6. "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" – Jay-Z
  7. "American Girl" – Goo Goo Dolls
  8. "Miami 2017" – Billy Joel
  9. "New York State of Mind" – Billy Joel
  10. "Emotion" – Destiny's Child
  11. "Gospel Medley" – Destiny's Child
  12. "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man" – Eric Clapton & Buddy Guy
  13. "Operaman" – Adam Sandler
  14. "Quit Playing Games With My Heart" – Backstreet Boys
  15. "Miss You" – Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
  16. "Salt of the Earth" – Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

Disc two

  1. "FDNY" – Mike Moran
  2. "Who Are You" – The Who
  3. "Baba O'Riley" – The Who
  4. "Won't Get Fooled Again" – The Who
  5. "Come To My Window" – Melissa Etheridge
  6. "Born To Run" – Melissa Etheridge
  7. "Fire and Rain" – James Taylor
  8. "Up on the Roof" – James Taylor
  9. "Peaceful World" – John Mellencamp
  10. "Pink Houses" – John Mellencamp and Kid Rock
  11. "Superman (It's Not Easy)" – Five For Fighting
  12. "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" – Elton John
  13. "I'm Down" – Paul McCartney
  14. "Yesterday" – Paul McCartney
  15. "Let It Be" – Paul McCartney
  16. "Freedom" (reprise)" – Paul McCartney

Home video release

The concert was released by Sony both on DVD and VHS on January 29, 2002, both only in NTSC format for the US/Canadian market. The two-tape VHS set has a total running time of 296 minutes, while the double DVD is 245 minutes, i.e. 51 minutes shorter.

See also


  1. ^ Booing of Hillary Transformed into Applause
  2. ^ a b c Seibert, Perry. "The Concert For New York City [2 Discs]".  
  3. ^ "The Concert For New York City". Retrieved 2009-08-07. 
  4. ^ "CONCERT FOR NY (DVD) DVD". Retrieved 2009-08-07. 
  5. ^ "Concert for New York City DVDs (2001)". Retrieved 2009-08-07. 
  6. ^ a b "Sounds From a Town I Love (2001)". Archived from the original on 2009-10-26. Retrieved 2009-08-07. 
  7. ^ Woody Allen, Stig Björkman (2005). Woody Allen on Woody Allen (revised, illustrated ed.).  
  8. ^ MSG 50 Greatest Moments
  9. ^ John Clarke, "Dave Grohl, Chris Cornell Pay Tribute to the Who at Kennedy Center", Rolling Stone, December 8, 2008. Retrieved 2011-09-14


  • Concert For New York City Over $30 Million Raised
  • The Concert for New York City: New York

External links

  • The Concert For New York City Website As of April 9, 2010, the original website no longer exists.
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