LOS ANGELES — It’s hard to imagine that Alan Jackson ’s Sept. 11-inspired song, “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” could be made to feel even more emotionally wrenching than it is already. But that’s exactly what will happen when Jackson performs the song Wednesday night (Feb. 27) on the 44th Grammy Awards.
As Jackson sings lines such as, “Did you weep for the children who lost their dear loved ones,” pictures created by school children in New York and Washington will be projected behind Jackson and his band (11 members in all, including backing vocalists, supplemented with 17 strings).
The performance is being positioned at the end of the third hour, when the telecast normally would end. This year, in an unprecedented move, CBS will extend the Grammys an extra half-hour. (Previous Grammy award shows have run more than three hours but were not scheduled to do so.)
Host Jon Stewart will introduce Jackson’s song by saying that it addresses the recent tragedy “directly and hauntingly.” He will call the song “a true American beauty.” Jackson does not have a Grammy nomination this year. That he has been given a spot on the show is an indication of the high regard afforded his song by Grammy producers.
The art work of childen affected by the tragedy underlines the song’s eloquence. There are pictures of the World Trade Center towers burning, pictures of the towers inside hearts and a final picture of the Statue of Liberty, shedding a tear. The drawings come primarily from kids in New York and Washington, D.C. Some have been on exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of art and online.
When Jackson finished his run-through Tuesday morning at the Staples Center, many in the audience applauded. Some wiped away tears.