Alan Jackson, 'Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)'
Jackson's classic 9/11 tear-jerker arrived in November 2001 as a sort of softer counterpoint to Charlie Daniels' chest-beating "This Ain't No Rag, It's a Flag." He debuted the song at the Country Music Association Awards on Nov. 7, 2001, just 10 days after writing it. "I didn't want to write a patriotic song," the singer-songwriter said in an interview with Today's Christian magazine. "And I didn't want it to be vengeful, either. But I didn't want to forget about how I felt and how I knew other people felt that day." Instead, Jackson made no apologies for being a "singer of simple songs" who didn't know "the difference between Iraq and Iran" and just focused on describing everyday Americans' reactions to the tragedy. "Did you shout out in anger, in fear for your neighbor," he sang, "or did you just sit down and cry?" A decade later, the song's sentiments may sound maudlin—but at the time, no other tune captured the feeling of a nation united in grief quite so eloquently.