Just before the world changed, a mostly unknown young musician stood in front of the New York Skyline to film a video for his love song to the city so nice they named it twice.
I don’t know if this is apocryphal or not, but I heard somewhere that Ryan Adams and the video crew spent the entire day at that spot under the bridge making that video. Showed up a sunrise, stayed well into the night. Even if it’s not true, it makes a great story. The video itself captures a day in the life of New York City, all the glory of its wonderful chaos and confusion. People living their lives and going about their business, unaware of how much those lives would change.
I still think the skyline of the city looks weird without the WTC there. Even though there are memorials and tributes and space being taken up, it’s not the same. Nothing about the world ever quite felt the same after September 11, 2001. I still can’t quite wrap my head around what happened. There’s still something empty inside. I feel like I’m in the extreme minority of people who can’t understand our response to it. I’ve never understood how curtailing our own civil liberties, wearing little American flag pins, or waging war on an idea makes us any safer. We’re not any safer. We just have an appearance of safety, and a memory of what it was like to feel safe.
Weirdly enough, that’s kind of what the song is about. It’s the memory of a time that seems better than it really was compared to the way life is now. Maybe it really was better. Maybe the love was pure and real. Maybe the sun was warmer, the food tasted better, and you never woke up hung over. Maybe not. Does it really matter in the end?
“Hell, I still love you New York.”