For a brief time after Sept. 11, 2001, our country was united in more than just name only. People helped one another, spoke to strangers, and were kind to each other. That's the spirit that country singer Jennifer Nettles wanted to capture in her 9/11 tribute song "King of the City."
The song is the story of Jose, an immigrant who works as a window washer on the World Trade Center. Nettles sings of Jose's many jobs, washing dishes and delivering pizzas, and his wife's work as a nanny and a cleaning lady. It speaks to the heart of hard-working men and women who come to the U.S. pursuing the American Dream.
"It's true I wasn't born here/But my heart is sworn here," she sings. "To hold up your dreams with my own/That day on my perch/I made it a Church/And I prayed for each soul to fly home."
One of the most moving lines references the horrifying moment when people began falling from the towers.
"You see, I watched them fall/From that building/And I wept for all/Of their wives and their children/I won't forget/It will always get me/The saddest day/To be king of the city."
You can hear the entire track below.
Nettles studied Spanish and anthropology in college. She even lived in Mexico for a time. That country's influences are obvious in the music of the song.
"It has been so long since I started writing this song," Nettles explained in a press release, "But I was only able to finish it in the last year."
The inspiration for the song comes from the tense political atmosphere our nation is facing right now. "I want to humanize the immigrant story as an American story, and allow people a different narrative from what they might be seeing on the news or in their communities," Nettles stated.
This article was originally published in 2017.