Well, it’s been hard to come up with anything to say that hasn’t already been said in the last two weeks by a host of columnists, sub editors, television commentators, and other shapers of opinion far more eloquent than I on the subject of the tragedy that hit New York and indeed the whole of the Western World to a degree, on September the eleventh. I have written this special piece for the website many times in my head, and have shredded it just as many times for one reason or another, as more aspects and appositions have come to light, and as my feelings on certain of the consequenses have shaped and reshaped themselves.
The one thing that is unmoved, however, is my need to assure you all of the entire band’s shock and sadness at the scale of this atrocity, and its senseless waste of human life, most of it being young men and women in their prime and with young families here in the New York area, and a ghostly roster of missing victims whose families wait overseas (many in Britain) for news that will never arrive. I don’t think there has ever been a single more cataclysmic event perpetrated in peacetime on such an indiscriminate level, against people who were guilty of nothing more than going to work in a global marketplace which happened to be the great symbolic icon of capitalism most hated and despised by the enemies of freedom and democracy. Our hearts are heavy with their loss, and the grief is shared by us all - knowing, as we all of us here do, someone or other who never came home on that dreadful day.
It ocurred to us, when at the beginning of this week we finalised discussions for a performance at BB King’s club in New York on Saturday Nov.3rd., that we would now have an opportunity to make our own personal donation to the Twin Towers Fund set up by Mayor Giuliani in response to the extraordinary needs of the victims. Accordingly, we will donate our proceeds of the night to the fund, and we would ask ALL Average White Band friends and fans to come and help swell the coffers for this occasion, and join in our tribute to the victims, their families, and the heroes who lost their lives in unspeakable ways trying to rescue and relieve others. I refer of course to the firemen, police, ambulence and paramedic personnel who never made it out, and who have never before sustained such unprecidented losses in a single incident. Our drummer, Brian Dunne, comes from a firefighting family who have lost close brethren in this disaster, and in Onnie’s little neighborhood alone, ten firefighters have disappeared. It’s tough to finish this paragraph even now, two weeks afterwards.
There are lots of observations and opinions I have wanted to share with you over this - from how it could have happened and our unpreparedness, to what should or could be done to ease the pain of its happening - but they are, as I said earlier, still in flux and in respect for the victims’ families, perhaps in questionable taste at this time such are my frustrations, my hurt and my anger at various nonsenses. I will leave these weighty issues to those better qualified and better trained to air them, in their volumes of print and acres of screen.
I would like to remind people however that the sharpest tool of hate is ignorance, and ignorance of our true character is what spawned this awful deed, so please read and listen to every source of information that you can before condoning any vengeance of hate that Britain and America might be inclined to try, however seemingly justified at this time, and remember John Lennon’s "Imagine" instead, as an anthem for this passage. The wound will heal, the scar will be huge, but there is dignity and respect for a wounded soul who can proceed with humility rather than hubris.
For America, it’s the end of the innocence. For the rest of us, we reluctantly welcome a new neighbour to the trauma centre.
Friends, we’ll see you at BB King’s on Saturday Nov.3rd.