Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Friday, September 9, 2011

Musician Rhett Miller’s 9/11 Diary

Old 97s lead singer Rhett Miller. (Courtesy of Rhett Miller)

Old 97s lead singer Rhett Miller. (Courtesy of Rhett Miller)

By: Alex Ashlock

We know Rhett Miller for the music he produces with his country rock band the Old 97s, but on the eve of the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 we are thinking about him a new light.

Rhett and his then girlfriend, now wife, Erica, lived just three blocks from the World Trade Center.

They were home when the first plane hit. Somewhere in the chaos of that day, Rhett bought a notebook and started writing in it. Part of that diary were published this month in The Atlantic.

We asked Rhett to read it for us (Language Warning):


“It’s a funny thing about that day, Rhett Miller told Robin Young. “Everybody’s got a story and I learned pretty quickly that it’s hard to talk about. I had not even opened that notebook in almost 10 years and I hadn’t read it out loud. I mean I’d read it, and every time I read it it was still hard, and reading it aloud, that was tough. But I’m glad you all got me to do it,” he said.

We also got him to play a song he was in the process of writing when the terror attacks happened. It’s called “World Inside the World.”

“I had just finished reading Don DeLillo’s incredible novel Underworld before 9/11, with its weirdly prescient photo on the cover,” Rhett told Robin. “And there’s a motif that runs through the book, there’s a world inside the world and that kept going through my head. I was working on a song, and I started it in the days leading up to 9/11 and I didn’t get a chance to come back to it for about a month. The first two verses were written before 9/11 and the last verse was written about a month later. I don’t know if that gives anybody any insight into the third verse but I felt like I had to write something,” he said.


  • Rhett Miller, lead singer for the country band the Old 97s

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.

Experts share a range of perspectives on how to combat the Islamic State militant group, and the role the U.S. should play.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

November 26 5 Comments

Arlo Guthrie Celebrates 50 Years Of ‘Alice’s Restaurant’

Listening to the 18-minute musical monologue has been a Thanksgiving tradition among folk music fans for decades.

November 26 Comment

One Refugee’s Story Of Coming To America

Paul Okot vividly remembers landing at JFK airport in New York at 7 years old, after fleeing violence in southern Sudan.

November 25 3 Comments

Rapper Le1f Finds Struggle And Moral Diversity In American Music

We've been asking musicians what they think of when they think "American music." Today we hear from Khalif Diouf, aka Le1f.

November 24 7 Comments

Ferguson: One Year Later

City council member Wesley Bell looks back on the past year since protests and violence swept the Missouri city.