It may seem like the height of frivolity to, on a day such as this forever marked by the bloodstains of innocents and heroes, discuss any other anniversaries on this date. Yet, even in the face of horror, life continued on 9/11. Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us there is a time to grieve and a time to dance. There is a sense of comfort in looking back and seeing how the commonplace and the ordinary remained standing that day. Lives were lost, yet life remained.
Nickelback, the band everyone hates yet has still sold over 50 million albums, released its sophomore effort Silver Side Up on September 11th, 2001. A more unfortunately timed release date is difficult to imagine, but there it was. The album's debut single “How You Remind Me,” spent almost a year on the Billboard charts, including a stint at #1. The album has sold over six million copies in the United States alone. If this is the face of a band universally despised, every other band on the planet should immediately switch gears and go for deliberate unpopularity.
While there are definitely aspects one can criticize about Nickelback — Chad Kroeger's raspy voice becoming monochromatic after a while, limited musical palette, a lyrical obsession with sex, sex, and more sex — the band has more than a few surprises in store for those who care to listen. Witness the third single off of Silver Side Up, a brutal takedown of marital abuse (caution: language).
Or, from a more recent album, a lyrical sentiment that is quite appropriate for today's hate-driven world.
While I have no inclination to set my Rory Gallagher CDs aside in favor of all Nickelback all the time, the band is at worst listenable and at its best, genuinely moving for all the right reasons (no pun intended). Nickelback filled a need in the 2000s for radio-friendly hard rock. It gave us a diversion from the War on Terror. The endless debate over Nickelback's artistic merits, to its detractors the lack thereof, remind me of a t-shirt I saw a few years back featuring the silhouette of a soldier in battle and the inscription, “They risk their asses so we can run our mouths.”
Life did go on both during and after 9/11. This is the way it has always been and will always be until the final day, when Christ returns to the earth. Until that day, we who remain must go on, honoring those no longer here by carrying on with our own allotment of days on this earth. We remember those lost, and mourn. Yet we celebrate when new life comes. God remembers that we are dust, yet He values our presence when we are alive so much He sent His only-begotten Son to die for us, so we could spend eternity with Him.
Whether Nickelback will be one of the house bands in heaven is unknown. But who knows. Maybe God liked “How You Remind Me” as much as most everyone else did — whether they admit it or not.