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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

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

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