The music business was hardly spared the effects of Hurricane Sandy. As reported by our New York sister blog, Sound of the City, dozens of shows in the New York-New Jersey area were postponed or canceled; the resulting travel snafu has scuttled touring plans as far away as tonight's (former) Houston show by rapper Rakim. The Brooklyn warehouse of garage-rock/rarities label Norton Records took on four feet of floodwater.
Tonight at 7 p.m., NBC and several cable networks will broadcast Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together, a one-hour telethon to raise money to help the Eastern Seaboard recover from the effects of Sandy, now estimated to be the second most destructive storm to strike the U.S. behind Hurricane Katrina. Much like our own Ike in 2008, it could be months or maybe years before the region fully returns to normal. (Have we, yet? What is "normal," anyway?)
Scheduled to appear on Coming Together are Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, Sting, Christina Aguilera and Jimmy Fallon, and no doubt a few special guests TBA. Since it's only an hour long, they will all be forced to choose their songs very carefully. We decided to offer a few suggestions, because don't people in that part of the country have enough on their minds right now?
Bruce Springsteen, "Atlantic City": The popular New Jersey resort/East Coast playground took a direct hit from Sandy. Although this 1982 song is about a mobbed-up loser most likely headed to his death, it's still hard to imagine Springsteen not playing it tonight. He can make a rallying cry out of almost anything, especially a song that includes the line "maybe everything that dies someday comes back."
Bruce Springsteen, "Badlands": Much better. "Badlands" is an anthem from the get-go, the epitome of the mid-'70s Springsteen who was determined to transcend his lumpen surroundings with only the sweat of his brow and the indominatable E Street Band. Other songs of its ilk, "Jungleland," "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," "Racing In the Streets" and so forth, are too long to fit into an hour-long broadcast.
Billy Joel, "Allentown": It hasn't been in the news as much as points further east, but Allentown, Pennsylvania's third-largest city nestled deep in the Lehigh Valley, has taken a hit just the same. According to Friday's The Morning Call, about 30 percent of the area's main power company's customers are still without electricity (approx. 95,000), gas is growing scarce, and tempers are getting short.
Billy Joel, "Big Shot": So far it seems like government officials have handled the situation about as well as they possibly can (except that poor Atlantic City mayor), or at least have managed to hold off a Katrina-like boondoggle. Still, if Billy Joel has an axe to grind about the way the recovery has been conducted, this is the song he wants.
Bon Jovi, "Bad Medicine": Unlike Springsteen and even Billy Joel, Jon Bon Jovi has been perfectly happy to keep politics out of the band's music, beyond the everyday blue-collar situations of good hard-working folk who cling to their dreams and their love after the money's all been spent paying the bills. Nothing against "Born to Be My Baby," but I picked "Bad Medicine" because it's always been my favorite from the New Jersey album, which seemed appropriate.
Bon Jovi, "Livin' On a Prayer": Come on. You'd rather them play "Have a Nice Day"?
Sting, "All This Time": The best song on 1991's The Soul Cages, Sting's album-length eulogy for his fisherman father, follows a man's life as a river flows into the sea. All things considered, perhaps a more appropriate choice than "Love Is the Seventh Wave."
Sting, "Englishman In New York": From his pretentious/ambitious years when his records were as much jazz as rock, this is a breezy little reggae tune about learning to love being an "illegal alien" and probably as close to subtlety as Sting was capable at the time. Or now.
Christina Aguilera, "Your Body": It's her new single. Give her a break; she's had a rough year.
Jimmy Fallon & Bruce Springsteen, "Sexy and I Know It": Hey, they'll both be there. They might as well. America wants them to.
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All money raised from the telethon will be directed to the American Red Cross. Help them out yourself at www.redcross.org.