background image
25
been printed, but had been distributed electronically to media in anticipation of
the album's release. Shortly after the attacks, the group's leader, Boots Riley, said
that the design "was supposed to be a metaphor for the capitalist state being
destroyed through music." Though he had initially expressed concern about
replacing the cover image, Riley backed down after pressure from his record
company.
33
"Two hours after the thing happened, we got the call saying, `OK,
you've got to have another album cover. No discussion,'" Riley remembers. "That
was it. It was one of the first things that I saw in a series of censorship."
34
The only
further public comment on the cover came via a press statement released by the
label which read, "75 Ark recognizes and supports the artistic freedom of its
artists. However, recent extraordinary events demand that we create new artwork
for the album."
35
Classical composer John Adams saw performances of his new opera The Death
of Klinghoffer cancelled by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The Orchestra's man-
agement said that the nation's concerns over terrorism called for self-restraint and
to "err on the side of being sensitive." Said Adams: "In this country, there is almost
no option for the other side, no space for the Palestinian view in a work of art.
Susan Sontag said recently that she found the mood unprecedented in more than
40 years, and I agree."
36
Give Peace a Chance
The incident of music censorship in the immediate weeks after September 11
th
that garnered the greatest amount of public attention began shortly after the
attacks themselves.
Within hours of the attacks in Washington and New York, programmers at
Clear Channel (the largest owner of radio stations in the United States) began
informally circulating lists of songs that might be distasteful to play in the wake
of the tragedy, each containing literal or metaphorical references considered a bit
too close to recent events. The list, containing more than 150 songs described as
"lyrically questionable," started as a grassroots effort by local programmers and
was subsequently distributed to all programmers by Jack Evans , a senior regional
vice president of programming. At the time of the list, Clear Channel owned more
than 1,170 radio stations
37
, reaching more than 110 million U.S. listeners every
week. The company also had large investments in concert promotion, billboard
advertising, and specialty advertisement placement.