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Rick Paul | Help Us Understand

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Help Us Understand

by Rick Paul

A songwriter's reaction to 9/11, written within days of the attacks and recorded to commemorate the 10th anniversary.
Genre: Easy Listening: Adult contemporary
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1. Help Us Understand
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Album Notes
I'd picked the week of September 10, 2001 for a solid week of writing songs. I got off to a good start on that Monday. However, then Tuesday, September 11th arrived.

When I woke up that morning, my then wife had the TV in our bedroom on, as she often did. However, instead of the normal music videos to accompany her morning workout, there was a breaking news report. An airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center in Manhattan. A little while later, there was live television images of a second plane crashing into one of the towers, then news of a plane crashing into the Pentagon, and a bit later the news of a fourth plane crashing into a field in Pennsylvania.

Needless to say, most any thoughts of anything else went by the wayside. I spent much of that morning and afternoon going back and forth between my small home studio and the television set in the next room, checking out the latest updates on the various situations, wondering if still further attacks might occur, including whether there might be possible West Coast targets.

I considered, and discarded, the idea of writing a song about the attacks, and my mind was too occupied by the attacks to write about anything else. A day or so later, though, some on-line friends convinced me that, as a songwriter, it was more or less my duty to try and write something appropriate, to voice what others may not be able to put into words. I tried. After a day or so of going down various paths, from the angry to the sad to the patriotic, I just couldn't come up with anything that didn't seem trite. However, I resolved I'd give it another day. If I couldn't come up with anything after that, I'd abandon the thought.

Overnight my mind kept going around in circles, considering the images I'd seen and my reaction to them. One particular image I just couldn't shake was that of the twin towers crumbling. The image seemed biblical in proportion, and I couldn't help think about the Tower of Babel. I'd recently come to a perspective that everything, even bad things, happens for a reason, and, ultimately, for the good. How could I reconcile that, though, with a disaster -- an evil -- of such proportions? I couldn't. The next morning, the basic idea for this lyric just spilled out, and the song was finished within a week or so.

My original demo recording of this song was played on the radio in a small town in Western Australia, and the song was also performed by a young singer over in Germany at his vocal recital. This song has also proven to be a favorite in my live performances. However, I'd never recorded a more polished version of the song. With the tenth anniversary of the attacks in September 2011, though, I felt it would be timely to do just that, and this recording is the result.

Coming up with cover art for this release was the final challenge. My own collection of photographs didn't have anything directly related, and my artistic skills are decidedly lacking. After searching the internet for possibilities in the form of commercial stock photographs, public domain photographs, and just plain ideas, I came down to two photographs from FEMA's collection, both taken by Andrea Booher. The final image combines a portion of one of those FEMA photos with a sunset sky photo I took in Coronado, California, which I used primarily to enhance the color of the image.



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