With all the coverage of the end of the Iraq War going on right now, I can’t help but remember the beginning. I probably wouldn’t remember the night the war began if it weren’t for where I was.
On March 19th, 2003, I was in First Avenue’s mainroom with hundreds of other people for a rock show. I didn’t pay much attention to the news back then, so I only vaguely knew what was happening with Iraq. That night, of course, was “zero hour” for Operation Iraqi Freedom. While bombs dropped on Iraq, Godspeed You! Black Emperor played on. At some point during the show, they turned on the radio so that George W. Bush’s voice could be heard as the music–contemplative orchestral post-rock–provided a portentous soundtrack to history.
It was, easily, the most powerful musical experience I’ve had.
This article about GY!BE from Citypages says, “This music gives you a lot of time to think, and maybe that’s the point. Playing a Godspeed CD is like pressing pause on the rest of the world.” Perhaps you feel like pressing pause today. Here you are.