By Abigail Visco
On November 13, a series of terrorists attacks executed by ISIS took place in Paris. Occurring in four different locations and within minutes of each other, these attacks included mass shootings, suicide bombings, and hostage situations. The attacks killed over a hundred people and left close to four hundred wounded. Paris hasn’t seen attacks this deadly since World War II.
With one of the attacks occurring at an Eagles of Death Metal concert at the Bataclan Theatre, the tragedy hit close to home for many musicians. Out of respect for those who lost their lives, many bands and artists—Deftones, Foo Fighters, Twenty One Pilots, Marilyn Manson, Motorhead, and Papa Roach—on tour in Europe moved to cancel or rescheduled their remaining dates.
Many of these artists had fans and friends who lost their lives during the concert at Bataclan, and it seemed insensitive to continue performing while so many are mourning. But as time passes, it becomes apparent that the need for music now is stronger than ever before. Music provides community in times of hardship. Throughout history, artists have come together to play music during some of the most difficult events, and in those moments, music served as a healing process as well as a call for change.
During the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970s, musicians brought the masses together in protest for the end of the war and the end of social inequality. The Woodstock Music and Art Fair was held in August of 1969 in Bethel, New York. Over 400,000 people showed up to listen to legendary artists like Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and The Grateful Dead. So many people lost family members to the war, and music was a way to cope as well as bring attention to issues hurting America and other countries around the world.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, many popular artists—Madonna, Aerosmith, and Britney Spears—backed out of tours. In addition, many songs like AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell,” Neil Diamond’s “America,” and Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” were banned from hundreds of radio stations out of fear that they would be forever associated with the horrific event.
But as time passed, artists decided to use the power of music to their advantage. They brought people together to show the world that even in some of the most unfortunate times, it’s possible to rise up, take a stand, and create change. Benefit concerts were organized and compilation albums were released. The telethon America: A Tribute to Heroes, which included performances by Bon Jovi, Alicia Keys, and Stevie Wonder, raised over $150 million for the nonprofit organization United Way that helped families who were affected by the attacks. A compilation album of performances from The Concert for New York City was released and all proceeds also went to families in New York affected by the attacks.
Today, different issues and tragedies still affect people all over the world, and it is possible that more events like the recent attacks in Paris will happen again in the future. Music may not have the power to create peace for all, but we need it now more than ever to provide a glimmer of hope.