Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia), the largest owner of radio stations in the United States, circulated an internal memorandum containing a list of songs[1] that program directors felt were "lyrically questionable" to play in the aftermath of the attacks.[2]

During the time immediately after the attacks, many television and radio stations altered normal programming in response to the events, and the rumor spread that Clear Channel and its subsidiaries had established a list of songs with lyrics Clear Channel deemed "questionable."[3] The list was not an explicit demand not to play the songs listed, but rather a suggestion that they "might not want to play these songs." The list was made public by the independent radio industry newsletter Hits Daily Double, which was not affiliated with iHeartMedia.[4] did research on the subject and concluded that the list did exist as a suggestion for radio stations but noted that it was not an outright ban on the songs in question.[5] The compiled list was the subject of media attention around the time of its release.[5]

The list contains 165 suggestions, including a single suggestion for each song in Rage Against the Machine's entire catalogue at the time (49 songs) and covers of certain songs (such as Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" and the cover by Guns N' Roses).[6] In some cases, only certain covers were included on the list: for example, the cover of "Smooth Criminal" by Alien Ant Farm is on the list while the original Michael Jackson recording is not; similarly, Martha and the Vandellas' original version of "Dancing in the Street" and Van Halen's cover are included, but David Bowie and Mick Jagger's cover is not.

Reasons for inclusions

The Clear Channel memorandum contains songs that, in their titles or lyrics, vaguely refer to open subjects intertwined with the September 11 attacks, such as airplanes, collisions, death, conflict, violence, explosions, the month of September, and New York City, as well as general concepts that could be connected to aspects of the attacks, such as the sky falling, and weapons. Also included under the ban were several happy and celebratory songs (famously including Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World"), as Clear Channel believed playing joyful music in the aftermath of the attacks was inappropriate.

WASH, a Clear Channel-owned station in Washington, D.C., reportedly played Kool & the Gang's "Celebration" while the memorandum was being circulated, "which brought a polite if reproachful call from one listener, who was assured by the station the song's broadcast was a mistake."[5]

List of songs

Artist Song title #
3 Doors Down "Duck and Run" 1
311 "Down" 2
AC/DC "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" 3
"Hells Bells" 4
"Highway to Hell" 5
"Safe in New York City" 6
"Shoot to Thrill" 7
"Shot Down in Flames" 8
"T.N.T." 9
The Ad Libs "The Boy from New York City" 10
Afro Celt Sound System featuring Peter Gabriel[Note 1] "When You're Falling" 11
Alice in Chains "Down in a Hole" 12
"Rooster" 13
"Sea of Sorrow" 14
"Them Bones" 15
Alien Ant Farm "Smooth Criminal" 16
The Animals "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" 17
Louis Armstrong "What a Wonderful World" 18
The Bangles "Walk Like an Egyptian" 19
Barenaked Ladies "Falling for the First Time" 20
Fontella Bass "Rescue Me" 21
Beastie Boys "Sabotage" 22
"Sure Shot" 23
The Beatles "A Day in the Life" 24
"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" 25
"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" 26
"Ticket to Ride" 27
Pat Benatar "Hit Me with Your Best Shot" 28
"Love Is a Battlefield" 29
Black Sabbath "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" 30
"War Pigs" 31
Blood, Sweat and Tears "And When I Die" 32
Blue Öyster Cult "Burnin' for You" 33
Boston "Smokin'" 34
Los Bravos "Black Is Black" 35
Jackson Browne "Doctor My Eyes" 36
Bush "Speed Kills"[Note 2] 37
The Chi-Lites "Have You Seen Her" 38
Petula Clark "A Sign of the Times" 39
The Clash "Rock the Casbah" 40
Phil Collins "In the Air Tonight" 41
Sam Cooke "Wonderful World" 42
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown "Fire" 43
Creedence Clearwater Revival "Travelin' Band" 44
The Crickets "That'll Be the Day" 45
The Cult "Fire Woman" 46
Bobby Darin "Mack the Knife" 47
The Dave Clark Five "Bits and Pieces" 48
Skeeter Davis "The End of the World" 49
Neil Diamond "America" 50
Dio "Holy Diver" 51
The Doors "The End" 52
The Drifters "On Broadway" 53
Drowning Pool "Bodies" 54
Bob Dylan "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" 55
Everclear "Santa Monica" 56
Shelley Fabares "Johnny Angel" 57
Filter "Hey Man, Nice Shot" 58
Foo Fighters "Learn to Fly" 59
Fuel "Bad Day" 60
The Gap Band "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" 61
Godsmack "Bad Religion" 62
Green Day "Brain Stew" 63
Norman Greenbaum "Spirit in the Sky" 64
Guns N' Roses "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" 65
The Happenings "See You in September" 66
The Jimi Hendrix Experience "Hey Joe" 67
Herman's Hermits "Wonderful World" 68
The Hollies "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" 69
Jan and Dean "Dead Man's Curve" 70
Billy Joel "Only the Good Die Young" 71
Elton John "Bennie and the Jets" 72
"Daniel" 73
"Rocket Man" 74
Judas Priest "Some Heads Are Gonna Roll" 75
Kansas "Dust in the Wind" 76
Carole King "I Feel the Earth Move" 77
Korn "Falling Away from Me" 78
Lenny Kravitz "Fly Away" 79
Led Zeppelin "Stairway to Heaven" 80
John Lennon "Imagine" 81
Jerry Lee Lewis "Great Balls of Fire" 82
Limp Bizkit "Break Stuff" 83
Local H "Bound for the Floor" 84
Lynyrd Skynyrd "Tuesday's Gone" 85
Johnny Maestro & the Brooklyn Bridge "Worst That Could Happen" 86
Martha and the Vandellas "Dancing in the Street" 87
"Nowhere to Run" 88
Dave Matthews Band "Crash into Me" 89
Paul McCartney and Wings "Live and Let Die" 90
Barry McGuire "Eve of Destruction" 91
Don McLean "American Pie" 92
Megadeth "Dread and the Fugitive Mind" 93
"Sweating Bullets" 94
John Mellencamp "Crumblin' Down" 95
"Paper in Fire" 96
Metallica "Enter Sandman" 97
"Fade to Black" 98
"Harvester of Sorrow" 99
"Seek & Destroy" 100
Steve Miller Band "Jet Airliner" 101
Alanis Morissette "Ironic" 102
Mudvayne "Death Blooms" 103
Ricky Nelson "Travelin' Man" 104
Nena "99 Luftballons"/"99 Red Balloons" 105
Nine Inch Nails "Head Like a Hole" 106
Oingo Boingo "Dead Man's Party" 107
Ozzy Osbourne[Note 3] "Suicide Solution" 108
Paper Lace "The Night Chicago Died" 109
John Parr "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)" 110
Peter and Gordon "I Go to Pieces" 111
"A World Without Love" 112
Peter, Paul and Mary "Blowin' in the Wind" 113
"Leaving on a Jet Plane" 114
Tom Petty "Free Fallin'" 115
Pink Floyd "Mother" 116
"Run Like Hell" 117
P.O.D. "Boom" 118
Elvis Presley "(You're the) Devil in Disguise" 119
The Pretenders "My City Was Gone" 120
Queen "Another One Bites the Dust" 121
"Killer Queen" 122
Rage Against the Machine All songs 123
Red Hot Chili Peppers "Aeroplane" 124
"Under the Bridge" 125
R.E.M. "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" 126
The Rolling Stones "Ruby Tuesday" 127
Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels "Devil with a Blue Dress On" 128
Saliva "Click Click Boom" 129
Santana "Evil Ways" 130
Savage Garden "Crash and Burn" 131
Simon & Garfunkel "Bridge over Troubled Water" 132
Frank Sinatra "New York, New York" 133
Slipknot "Left Behind" 134
"Wait and Bleed" 135
The Smashing Pumpkins "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" 136
Soundgarden "Black Hole Sun" 137
"Blow Up the Outside World" 138
"Fell on Black Days" 139
Bruce Springsteen "I'm Goin' Down" 140
"I'm on Fire" 141
"War" 142
Edwin Starr "War" 143
Steam "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" 144
Cat Stevens "Morning Has Broken" 145
"Peace Train" 146
Stone Temple Pilots "Big Bang Baby" 147
"Dead & Bloated" 148
Sugar Ray "Fly" 149
The Surfaris "Wipe Out" 150
System of a Down "Chop Suey!" 151
Talking Heads "Burning Down the House" 152
James Taylor "Fire and Rain" 153
Temple of the Dog "Say Hello 2 Heaven" 154
Third Eye Blind "Jumper" 155
The Three Degrees "When Will I See You Again" 156
Tool "Intolerance" 157
The Trammps "Disco Inferno" 158
U2 "Sunday Bloody Sunday" 159
Van Halen "Jump" 160
"Dancing in the Street" 161
J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers "Last Kiss" 162
The Youngbloods "Get Together" 163
Zager and Evans "In the Year 2525" 164
The Zombies "She's Not There"[7] 165
  1. ^ "When You're Falling" is listed as being by Peter Gabriel, but is actually by Afro Celt Sound System, with Gabriel as guest vocalist.
  2. ^ The original name of the song was "Speed Kills", but following the attacks on September 11, 2001, Bush renamed the song "The People That We Love".
  3. ^ "Suicide Solution" is listed as being by Black Sabbath, but is actually by Ozzy Osbourne, a lead singer of Black Sabbath.

While not listed in the memorandum, Cold's "Bleed" was similarly retitled (to "Thirteen") around this same time.[8]

See also


  1. ^ "The fallout over Clear Channel's (possibly apocryphal) do-not-play list lasted well past 9/11". Washington Post. October 8, 2021. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved May 30, 2023.
  2. ^ Wishnia, Steven (October 24, 2001). "Bad Transmission: Clear Channel's Hit List". Reviews. LiP magazine. Archived from the original on April 16, 2008. Retrieved January 18, 2011.
  3. ^ Kaufman, Gil (September 9, 2021). "Filter's Richard Patrick, Don McLean, Drowning Pool, Saliva & More Talk Post-9/11 Clear Channel Radio Scrub". Billboard. Retrieved May 30, 2023.
  4. ^ Dutton, Jeremy; Puchert, William. (October 10, 2001). "Music industry responds to terrorism". Zephyr. Archived from the original on June 20, 2008. Retrieved May 24, 2008.
  5. ^ a b c "Radio, Radio". September 18, 2001. Archived from the original on October 4, 2022. Retrieved May 24, 2008.
  6. ^ Truitt, Eliza (September 17, 2001). "It's the End of the World as Clear Channel Knows It". Archived from the original on October 15, 2007. Retrieved September 14, 2007. Slate published what it claimed was a copy of the list.
  7. ^ Hatcher, Thurston (September 20, 2001). "Radio stations retool playlists after attacks". CNN. Archived from the original on August 23, 2021. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  8. ^ "World Radio History" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 31, 2023. Retrieved December 23, 2022.

Further reading