On September 11, 2001, the world changed forever with the devastating attacks on both the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” embodied the thoughts and feelings of millions in the wake of the events that took place 16 years ago.
There is audio from country superstar Alan Jackson sharing memories and thoughts on the events of September 11, 2001 and discussing his song, “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” as well as remembrances from Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker and Eric Church.
The chorus and melody of “Where Were You…” came to Jackson in the middle of the night several weeks after the 9/11 tragedies. He awoke…sang the words into a recorder and wrote down key elements of the chorus…and completed the lyrics and verses later that same day. Initially reluctant to record the song, he was convinced by family and friends to share it with the world and debuted “Where Were You…” live on national television in early November at the 35th annual CMA Awards.
AJ (Where Were You) 2 OC: …same feelings. 1:33
“Well, I don’t know – I think I was probably like most people that were impacted with that day and the months that followed. You know, everybody was glued to the news and television and I think it really affected a lot of people – their perspective on their lives and their jobs and their families and where they were and what they were wanting to do and how they looked at things. And I guess…I mean, that’s what I was thinking, too. And I just pretty much visualized a lot of those scenes and stories I’d heard and seen on television or heard people talk about. The song came out of nowhere in the middle of the night – the chorus did. Just a gift. And I got up and scribbled it down and put the melody down so I wouldn’t forget it, and then the next day I started piecing all those verses together that were the thoughts I’d had or visuals I’d had, and…that was about it. I think it was just really…I had so many people tell me that there’s always a line or something in there that they did, whether it was go to church or pick up their Bible or go see their mother or watch a sunset – I mean, just a lot of things in there people told me that they had actually done those things, so…I guess I was like everybody else, just feeling those same feelings.”
Alan Jackson (Where Were You) 3 OC: …meant something. :56
“It was a tough performance for me just the whole idea of releasing that song was a little big tough. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to put that out, but everybody convinced it was a good thing to do. In retrospect, I agree with that. But, I hadn’t sung the song much, first of all. It was just in the studio basically, you know, I wrote it. So, it was hard enough to go out there and sing something new anyway and then just the topic made it nerve-wracking to do. I didn’t think about what was gonna happen or anything. We just sang it, and I just remember other than being relieved that I got through it, I just felt very proud that it seemed to cause a reaction in people. I was proud that we got to do it, and it seemed like it meant something.”
Lady A (9-11 Charles) OC: …everybody. :30
“It was my birthday believe it or not. Yeah. 9/11. So, I was in college, and yeah, it was wild. I mean, woke up, was getting ready to go to class. And I had a roommate come in and say, ‘Man, turn on the TV. Classes are canceled. You won’t believe…’ He had had an earlier class, and he comes in and says, ‘Turn on the TV.’ And we all got up and watched it. It was just wild. So, it’s hard to put into words. But it is funny, that it’s still and I can remember it and everybody can. It had such a huge Effect on everybody.”
Lady A (9-11 Hillary) OC: …we’re protected. 1:19
“I was in 10th grade, which is weird to think that I was in 10th grade and Charles and Dave were in college. But I was actually on my way to history class, interestingly enough, and so we got to that class and turned the TV on, and we’re just watching the footage and then our, we ended up having an assembly that day where the whole school went into the gym and our headmaster got up and explained kind of everything that was going on and what happened. And it is. It’s one of those things that’s forever ingrained in your memory. And I actually had a close friend of mine, it’s actually my God sister’s dad has been in the military and he’s retired now. But he was on his way to the Pentagon and didn’t get there. But so luckily before everything happened but it’s just, I think everyone has that personal connection to it no matter if you knew someone there or not. It’s just … and I think too not only is it a time to reflect on those lost in that tragedy, I think it’s a time to really celebrate our military. And just another way of bringing praise to them and thanking them for what they do, which is protect us and protect our freedom on a daily basis. And thankfully nothing like that has happened since. And I think that that’s a testament to how well we’re protected.”
Darius Rucker (9-11) OC: …vicious day. :24
“[On] 9-11, I was playing golf with a friend early in the morning. Had an apartment in New York, and I lived in New York kind of at the time. If you looked out my bedroom window, we saw the World Trade Center. I was on my way back home. I was playing a 7 o’clock round of golf, and then I was catching a noon flight, and when I was finishing up, we stopped in to get a drink and I looked and we saw the second tower come down. It was a vicious day.”
Eric Church (9-11) OC: …that feeling. :23
“I was driving into work — the Shop-At-Home Network — I was listening to Gerry House, I remember that, and the news broke. [I] really couldn’t grasp what had happened until I got to work and saw it for myself on television. I remember I watched the second plane hit the tower in real time. I had just moved to Nashville earlier that year, and all I remember is wanting to go home and be with those I loved. I’ll never, I’ll never forget that feeling.”