Carnegie Hall 4.6.02, named for its famous recording location in New York City, showcases deep emotions; DiFranco, the audience and the country were still reeling from the after-effects of 9/11 when this CD was recorded.,Ani DiFranco’s newest addition to her “official bootleg” series offers live versions of some of the best songs from her previous albums, mixed with commentary and conversations with the audience.
Carnegie Hall 4.6.02, named for its famous recording location in New York City, showcases deep emotions; DiFranco, the audience and the country were still reeling from the after-effects of 9/11 when this CD was recorded.
DiFranco notes this very clearly in an open letter to her fans included in the album’s liner notes.
“It was April 6, 2002, seven months after 9/11, which in emotional time is more like seven minutes. My touring since the fall had been affected by the climate of fear and uncertainty, in that audiences were sparser than usual and by mid-spring had only begun to normalize,” DiFranco wrote.
“For those of us who were out and about during that time, there was only one thing to talk about, and no matter what degree of readiness or capability I felt on any given night, I was compelled to speak to the sociopolitical present from every stage.”
Carnegie Hall 4.6.02 starts with DiFranco’s quick introduction, stating she played there exactly a year before, in 2001.
“I don’t know, I guess this is my night now … I’m gonna play everything I played last time, but backwards or something,” she said.
After her speech rendition of “God’s Country” begins, with a quick acoustic guitar accompaniment, and lyrics like “this may be God’s country / but it’s my country too / move over Mr. Holiness / and let the little people through.”
The next song, “Subdivision,” is preceded by DiFranco saying she was “kind of fearful to go on a little solo tour … because it’s been too long, and I forgot how the f*** to do this job, and I was afraid of the yelling and flailing and I would be so outnumbered, but it’s been, really, a thrill … to play solo.”
The song has powerful lyrics, such as “so we’re led by denial like lambs to the slaughter / serving empire of style and carbonated sugar water / and the old farm road’s a four-lane that leads to the mall / and our dreams are all guillotines waiting to fall.”
“Subdivision” compresses DiFranco’s sentiments against corporate America. She has stated in the past that she has refused to sign to major labels and said her own label, Righteous Babe Records, allows her the freedom to release whatever she wants without pressure.
Next up is “Not So Soft,” one of four poems on the album that feature no music, just DiFranco’s emotive voice enunciating her verses at the right moments.
“Two Little Girls” features more of DiFranco’s acoustic folk pop, with lyrics such as “love is a piano dropped out of a four-story window / and you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
After a lively rendition of “Two Little Girls” is a short story that DiFranco tells to the audience about her move to New York City in 1989. “Gratitude” and “Detroit Annie, Hitchhiking” (another poem) follow, along with the energetic “In the Way,” “Second Intermission” and “Names and Dates and Times.”
“Serpentine” is next, a poem that portrays DiFranco’s political statements: “Yes, the goons have gone global / and the CEOs are shredding files / and the Democrins and the Republicrats / are flashing their toothy smiles.”
DiFranco’s feelings about 9/11 are shown through her powerful poem entitled “Self Evident.”
According to her letter in the liner notes, she said she would remember “Self Evident” as being one of the most intense moments she had ever experienced on stage.
“Mid-way through the poem, someone began to sob on the second balcony, a sound that, while it didn’t make it to the tape, was harrowingly audible from where I stood,” DiFranco wrote.
“It was then that it really hit me: what did I think I was doing? The nerve of me standing in front of an audience of New Yorkers, not knowing who had lost what, a friend, a neighbor, a loved one.”
Such emotional verses as “on the day that America fell to its knees / after strutting around for a century / without saying thank you / or please / and the shock was subsonic / and the smoke was deafening” fueled the audience’s reaction.
“Self Evident” is definitely the stand out track on the album, even if it is just spoken. It showcases DiFranco’s versatility with language and emotion. “Out of Range” completes this set, a perfect ending to the latest installment in DiFranco’s official bootlegs.
Fans will certainly love this album, especially since DiFranco’s stage presence manages to shine throughout.