God Bless America (charity album)

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God Bless America
Compilation album by Various Artists
Released October 16, 2001 (2001-10-16)
Recorded Various
Genre Various
Length 62:11
Label Columbia/CBS Records
CK 86300
Producer Various

God Bless America was a 2001 charity album composed of American patriotic or spiritual songs, released on October 16 of that year in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It was released specifically to benefit the Twin Towers Fund, directing what the album cover said would be a "substantial portion of the proceeds" towards families of firefighters, police officers, and other responders lost in the rescue response to the September 11 attacks.[1] The artists and recordings featured were largely from Columbia Records.[2]

History[edit]

Following the September 11 attacks, Canadian pop star Celine Dion performed a new arrangement of "God Bless America"[1] on the telethon America: A Tribute to Heroes. The recorded version of this, done the day before the telethon in the event something happened and Dion could not appear, became the title track of this compilation. It, along with a live acoustic performance by John Mellencamp, were the only tracks on the album not to have been previously released.

The selections ranged over many decades, with recordings being used going back to 1945.[2] The span of material was quite large; the album included "This Land Is Your Land", which Woody Guthrie had written in annoyed reaction to "God Bless America",[3] as well as both the overtly patriotic "God Bless the USA" and the far different "Blowin' in the Wind".[4] Two live recordings are used, both performances in New York City.[2]

Reception[edit]

The album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200, selling 181,000 copies in its first week of release.[5] In doing so, it became the first charity album to reach the top since USA for Africa's We Are the World in 1985.[6] Dion's title track single also received enough radio airplay to reach number 14 on Billboard's Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart. The album's release came at a time when a number of similarly themed albums were being released,[4] and many patriotic and inspirational American songs were showing up on the pop charts.[5][7] The latter included "God Bless the USA" as well as different recordings of "The Star Spangled Banner" and "America the Beautiful".[5]

Music writer Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times termed the compilation an "unlikely combination" while writing that "patriotism makes strange bedfellows."[5] Rolling Stone said it was a "can't miss collection" with an artist array that "seems to have a little something for everyone."[7] Allmusic states that, "Touching the worlds of pop, folk, rock, gospel, country, and more, God Bless America was designed with the feelings of troubled Americans in mind."[4]

Track listing[edit]

# Title Writer(s) Performer Original release Length
1 "God Bless America" Irving Berlin Celine Dion 2001 3:47
2 "Land of Hope and Dreams" Bruce Springsteen Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (2000 live recording) 2001 9:32
3 "Hero" Mariah Carey, Walter Afanasieff Mariah Carey 1993 4:20
4 "Amazing Grace" John Newton, Southern Harmony Tramaine Hawkins 1994 7:10
5 "Blowin' in the Wind" Bob Dylan Bob Dylan 1963 2:48
6 "Bridge over Troubled Water" Paul Simon Simon & Garfunkel 1970 4:55
7 "Peaceful World" John Mellencamp John Mellencamp (unreleased 2001 live acoustic version) 2001 3:38
8 "There's a Hero" Don Cook, John Barlow Jarvis Billy Gilman 2000 3:28
9 "America the Beautiful" Katharine Lee Bates, Samuel A. Ward Frank Sinatra 1945 2:33
10 "God Bless the USA" Lee Greenwood Lee Greenwood 1984 3:16
11 "This Land Is Your Land" Woody Guthrie Pete Seeger 1964 3:02
12 "Coming Out of the Dark" Gloria Estefan, Emilio Estefan Jr., Jon Secada Gloria Estefan 1991 4:05
13 "We Shall Overcome" Zilphia Horton, Frank Hamilton, Guy Carawan, Pete Seeger Mahalia Jackson 1963 2:46
14 "The Star Spangled Banner" Francis Scott Key, John Stafford Smith The Mormon Tabernacle Choir 1965 2:34
15 "Lean on Me" Bill Withers Bill Withers 1972 4:17

Source: Album liner notes, except track times[4]

Chart positions[edit]

Year Chart Position
2001 Billboard 200 1

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wiederhorn, Jon (October 8, 2001). "Mariah Carey, Springsteen, Dylan Contribute To Benefit CD". MTV News. 
  2. ^ a b c "Columbia's 'America' Features Celine, Dylan". Billboard. Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  3. ^ Margolis, Lynne (June 28, 2012). "Behind The Song: 'This Land Is Your Land'". American Songwriter. 
  4. ^ a b c d "God Bless America [Sony]". Allmusic. Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d Hilburn, Robert (October 25, 2001). "The 'God Bless America' Collection, Inspirational and Patriotic, Is No. 1". Los Angeles Times. 
  6. ^ Glatzer, Jenna (2005). Céline Dion: For Keeps. Andrews McMeel Publishing. ISBN 0-7407-5559-5. 
  7. ^ a b Dansby, Andrew (October 24, 2001). "God Bless America on Top". Rolling Stone. 
Preceded by
Pain Is Love by Ja Rule
Billboard 200 number-one album
November 3, 2001
Succeeded by
The Great Depression by DMX