The musical landscape in 2002 cannot be written about without considering the effects of 9/11 and their immediate aftermath. The lingering shock of those tragic events influenced both artists and listeners, changing the artistic environment of the country as surely (if less importantly) as it did the political landscape. It would be overly simplistic (and inaccurate) to say that every album released in 2002 dealt directly with the events of September 11th, yet it is impossible to view theses releases even ten years later without contemplating the effects of the terrorist attacks on the American psyche.
Some artists dealt with the fear and anxiety of the post-9/11 state directly. Most of the more direct tracks released in the months immediately following the tragedy were, predictably, not very good (fortunately, since Paul McCartney, Alan Jackson, and Toby Keith were kind enough to release their singles in 2001, they need not be addressed here). However, many albums released the following year addressed facets of the attacks and the subsequent social and political climate of the country in thoughtful and moving ways.
Notably, many of the songs on Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising were written as a direct response to the events of September 11th. Indeed, a possibly apocryphal story has it that Springsteen was inspired to write the album when a stranger rolled down his car window days after the attack and said “we need you now.” Regardless of the veracity of that anecdote, the sentiment proved to be true for many as The Rising became Springsteen’s highest charting album of new material since 1987.