Nearly ten years ago, the phone rang on Friday evening. My wife and I were home with our two sons -- then just two- and four-years-old -- trying to guard them from witnessing any of the tragic images on TV. The call was from Joel Gallen telling me that all of the networks wanted him to produce a telethon to help support the victims of 9/11. Joel asked if I would be the head writer for the television event that would very quickly become America: A Tribute To Heroes.
There is not the space here -- even in the digital realm -- to fully recount what that experience meant to me. So let me just share one detail that redefined a subject near to my heart -- the power of music in our lives. During that first conversation, Joel asked me about some of the greatest musical artists alive, and what song we should ask them to sing for the event. When we came to Stevie Wonder, I blurted out a title that sprang to mind from what I believed then and now to be one of the greatest albums ever recorded -- 1976's Songs In The Key Of Life. The song was called "Love's In Need Of Love Today," and because then and now, my CD collection is not alphabetized, I could not find the CD to check if the song's lyrics were as fitting as I imagined.
The next few days became a complete blur, as all of us honored to be a part of the show came together to try and bring to life a broadcast that would not dishonor that profound moment in our history. One of many moments that I will never forget came when Stevie Wonder rehearsed at CBS Television City, and he and the vocal group Take 6 started to run through a stunningly heartfelt version of "Love's In Need Of Love Today" for the cameras. I remember breaking down in tears as it hit me that this visionary -- yes, visionary -- genius had somehow written a song that explained what we were doing then perfectly:
Good morn or evening friends
Here's your friendly announcer
I have serious news to pass on to everybody
What I'm about to say
Could mean the world's disaster
Could change your joy and laughter to tears and pain
Love's in need of love today
Send yours in right away
Hate's goin' round
Breaking many hearts
Stop it please
Before it's gone too far
Ten years later, my wife and I still have no better explanation to offer our sons -- now 12 and 14 -- for what on earth happened on 9/11/2001 than the poetic one that Stevie Wonder somehow understood a quarter century before those twin towers fell. Hate had gone too far in our world. One decade later, perhaps more than ever before, love's in need of love today.