The 165 Songs Banned from American Radio Following 9/11 Terrorist Attacks

Many songs were cited as "lyrically questionable"

Rage Against The Machine; 27/05/1996; Pinkpop; Landgraaf, The Netherlands
Rage Against The Machine, photo by Niels van Iperen/Getty Images

    Following the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, close to 200 songs were shadow banned from American radio stations by Clear Channel Communications, known today as iHeartMedia. There were little to no consequences for DJs who broke the embargo, though as The Daily Beast, Kerrang, and others have noted, it had a chilling effect on radio play for the targeted songs. Today, the list stands as a curious relic of a time where unfathomable tragedy led to one of the most sweeping censorship movements in recent history.

    Clear Channel announced the “suggestions” in a memorandum sent out to its over 1,100 radio stations on September 14th. Many songs were cited as “lyrically questionable,” which meant that the words could be triggering, as in James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain,” AC/DC’s “Shot Down in Flames,” or Foo Fighters’ “Learn to Fly.” But others were struck from playlists for political reasons.

    Rage Against the Machine’s entire discography — four albums and over 50 songs — were deemed unacceptable, apparently because the band had been critical of America and capitalism. John Lennon’s “Imagine” was also banned, because envisioning a world where we all got along was at odds with the public demand for bloody justice. And several heavy metal songs found themselves on the wrong side of the censor, seemingly for no other reason than the suits at Clear Channel didn’t like aggressive music. “Bad Religion” by Godsmack has nothing to do with fire, planes, killing, or New York, but it was unceremoniously yanked anyway. So, too, were Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff,” Tool’s “Intolerance,” and dozens of other relatively inoffensive tracks. And what could be the possible reason for excluding The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian,” except for blatant Islamophobia?


    Check out the list below.

    3 Doors Down –“Duck and Run”
    311 — “Down”
    AC/DC — “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”
    AC/DC — “Hells Bells”
    AC/DC — “Highway to Hell”
    AC/DC  — “Safe in New York City”
    AC/DC — “Shoot to Thrill”
    AC/DC  — “Shot Down in Flames”
    AC/DC  –“T.N.T.”
    The Ad Libs — “The Boy from New York City”
    Afro Celt Sound System feat. Peter Gabriel — “When You’re Falling”
    Alice in Chains — “Down in a Hole”
    Alice in Chains — “Rooster”
    Alice in Chains — “Sea of Sorrow”
    Alice in Chains — “Them Bones”
    Alien Ant Farm — “Smooth Criminal”
    The Animals — “We Gotta Get Out of This Place”
    Louis Armstrong — “What a Wonderful World”
    Bad Company — “No Smoke Without a Fire”
    The Bangles — “Walk Like an Egyptian”
    Barenaked Ladies — “Falling for the First Time”
    Fontella Bass — “Rescue Me”
    Beastie Boys — “Sabotage”
    Beastie Boys — “Sure Shot”
    The Beatles — “A Day in the Life”
    The Beatles — “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”
    The Beatles — “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”
    The Beatles — “Ticket to Ride”
    Pat Benatar — “Hit Me with Your Best Shot”
    Pat Benatar — “Love Is a Battlefield”
    Black Sabbath — “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”
    Black Sabbath — “War Pigs”
    Blood, Sweat and Tears — “And When I Die”
    Blue Öyster Cult — “Burnin’ for You”
    Boston — “Smokin'”
    Los Bravos — “Black Is Black”
    Jackson Browne — “Doctor My Eyes”
    Bush — “Speed Kills”[Note 2]
    The Chi-Lites — “Have You Seen Her”
    Petula Clark — “A Sign of the Times”
    The Clash — “Rock the Casbah”
    Phil Collins — “In the Air Tonight”
    Sam Cooke — “Wonderful World”
    The Crazy World of Arthur Brown — “Fire”
    Creedence Clearwater Revival — “Travelin’ Band”
    The Crickets — “That’ll Be the Day”
    The Cult — “Fire Woman”
    Bobby Darin — “Mack the Knife”
    The Dave Clark Five — “Bits and Pieces”
    Skeeter Davis — “The End of the World”
    Neil Diamond — “America”
    Dio — “Holy Diver”
    The Doors — “The End”
    The Drifters — “On Broadway”
    Drowning Pool – “Bodies”
    Bob Dylan — “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”
    Everclear — “Santa Monica”
    Shelley Fabares — “Johnny Angel”
    Filter — “Hey Man, Nice Shot”
    Foo Fighters — “Learn to Fly”
    Fuel — “Bad Day”
    The Gap Band — “You Dropped a Bomb on Me”
    Godsmack — “Bad Religion”
    Green Day — “Brain Stew”
    Norman Greenbaum — “Spirit in the Sky”
    Guns N’ Roses — “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”
    The Happenings — “See You in September”
    The Jimi Hendrix Experience — “Hey Joe”
    Herman’s Hermits — “Wonderful World”
    The Hollies — “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”
    Jan and Dean — “Dead Man’s Curve”
    Billy Joel — “Only the Good Die Young”
    Elton John — “Bennie and the Jets”
    Elton John — “Daniel”
    Elton John — “Rocket Man”
    Judas Priest — “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll”
    Kansas — “Dust in the Wind”
    Carole King — “I Feel the Earth Move”
    Korn — “Falling Away from Me”
    Lenny Kravitz — “Fly Away”
    Led Zeppelin — “Stairway to Heaven”
    John Lennon — “Imagine”
    Jerry Lee Lewis — “Great Balls of Fire”
    Limp Bizkit — “Break Stuff”
    Local H — “Bound for the Floor”
    Lynyrd Skynyrd — “Tuesday’s Gone”
    Johnny Maestro & the Brooklyn Bridge — “Worst That Could Happen”
    Martha and the Vandellas — “Dancing in the Street”
    Martha and the Vandellas — “Nowhere to Run”
    Dave Matthews Band — “Crash into Me”
    Paul McCartney and Wings — “Live and Let Die”
    Barry McGuire — “Eve of Destruction”
    Don McLean — “American Pie”
    Megadeth — “Dread and the Fugitive Mind”
    Megadeth — “Sweating Bullets”
    John Mellencamp — “Crumblin’ Down”
    John Mellencamp –“Paper in Fire”
    Metallica — “Enter Sandman”
    Metallica — “Fade to Black”
    Metallica — “Harvester of Sorrow”
    Metallica — “Seek & Destroy”
    Steve Miller Band — “Jet Airliner”
    Alanis Morissette — “Ironic”
    Mudvayne — “Death Blooms”
    Ricky Nelson — “Travelin’ Man”
    Nena — “99 Luftballons”/”99 Red Balloons”
    Nine Inch Nails — “Head Like a Hole”
    Oingo Boingo — “Dead Man’s Party”
    Ozzy Osbourne — “Suicide Solution”
    Paper Lace — “The Night Chicago Died”
    John Parr — “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)”
    Peter and Gordon — “I Go to Pieces”
    Peter and Gordon –“A World Without Love”
    Peter, Paul and Mary — “Blowin’ in the Wind”
    Peter, Paul and Mary — “Leaving on a Jet Plane”
    Tom Petty — “Free Fallin'”
    Pink Floyd — “Mother”
    Pink Floyd — “Run Like Hell”
    P.O.D. — “Boom”
    Elvis Presley — “(You’re the) Devil in Disguise”
    The Pretenders — “My City Was Gone”
    Queen — “Another One Bites the Dust”
    Queen — “Killer Queen”
    Rage Against the Machine — All songs
    Red Hot Chili Peppers — “Aeroplane”
    Red Hot Chili Peppers — “Under the Bridge”
    R.E.M. — “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”
    The Rolling Stones — “Ruby Tuesday”
    The Rolling Stones — “Shattered”
    Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels — “Devil with a Blue Dress On”
    Saliva — “Click Click Boom”
    Santana — “Evil Ways”
    Savage Garden — “Crash and Burn”
    Simon & Garfunkel — “Bridge over Troubled Water”
    Frank Sinatra — “New York, New York”
    Slipknot — “Left Behind”
    Slipknot — “Wait and Bleed”
    The Smashing Pumpkins — “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”
    Soundgarden — “Black Hole Sun”
    Soundgarden — “Blow Up the Outside World”
    Soundgarden — “Fell on Black Days”
    Bruce Springsteen — “I’m Goin’ Down”
    Bruce Springsteen — “I’m on Fire”
    Bruce Springsteen — “War”
    Edwin Starr — “War”
    Steam — “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”
    Cat Stevens — “Morning Has Broken”
    Cat Stevens — “Peace Train”
    Stone Temple Pilots — “Big Bang Baby”
    Stone Temple Pilots — “Dead & Bloated”
    Sugar Ray — “Fly”
    The Surfaris — “Wipe Out”
    System of a Down — “Chop Suey!”
    Talking Heads — “Burning Down the House”
    James Taylor — “Fire and Rain”
    Temple of the Dog — “Say Hello 2 Heaven”
    Third Eye Blind — “Jumper”
    The Three Degrees — “When Will I See You Again”
    Tool — “Intolerance”
    The Trammps — “Disco Inferno”
    U2 — “Sunday Bloody Sunday”
    Van Halen — “Jump”
    Van Halen — “Dancing in the Street”
    J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers — “Last Kiss”
    The Youngbloods — “Get Together”
    Zager and Evans–  “In the Year 2525”
    The Zombies — “She’s Not There”