Within hours of the September 11 tragedies, the music industry realized it needed to display some newfound sensitivity: Dave Matthews nixed plans to release “When the World Ends” as his next single, the Strokes removed “New York City Cops” from their recently released album, and Bush changed the title of their new single from “Speed Kills” to “The People That We Love.” But the gesture that received the most attention was a rumored list of songs banned from radio, each containing literal or metaphorical references a bit too close to recent events.
The list, containing more than 150 “lyrically questionable” songs, started as a grass-roots effort by local programmers, then was redistributed by a senior executive at ClearChannel, the largest owner of radio stations in the United States and owner of many Cleveland stations (including WTAM, WMMS, WMVX, WMJI and several others). Among the listed songs were “Fly,” “Jet Airliner,” “Head Like a Hole,” “Only the Good Die Young,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Crash Into Me,” “It?s the End of the World as We Know It,” and dozens more.
When the story hit the mainstream press, most journalists got the story wrong. It was widely reported that ClearChannel overtly banned the songs
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