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New Holy Land



 Genre: Gospel

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I lived in lower Manhattan on 9/11/2001. After being out rehearsing and playing until 4am, I was awakened by something. I looked out my bedroom window and saw one of the Twin Towers on fire, smoke pouring out. I phoned a friend for whom I did power point work on the 72 floor of the other tower and she said she had no idea what had happened, but was guiding her team downstairs. As she waited for the elevator, taking to me on the phone, I heard "Please return to your desks. The problem is contained to Building 2" announced over the loud speakers. She did not listen to the announcement and it saved her (and her coworkers') life.

Not wanting to leave the window, I called my father to see if he knew what had happened. As we spoke, the second plane hit. A fireball 60 stories wide and 40 stories high plumed in front of me. I fell back on the bed. My phone went dead. I went outside, to a park near the Towers, to stand in silence with other onlookers, helpless.

The Towers fell in what felt like my backyard. I was so close, most of the towers were obscured behind other buildings; I couldn't believe they fell completely. I spent the day helping dust covered survivors, frightened parents looking for their kids, directing folks through the confusion of Tribeca and the West Village.

I volunteered to give blood, volunteered at Ground Zero, then became the main coordinator of an effort that converted the Chelsea Piers indoor parking lot into a huge dispensary of items needed by those who were digging and searching, welding and cleaning, tending and nurturing. It all started with me helping with a single table outside a mobile command center on the corner of West Side Hwy and 17th St. I dispense coffee and donuts to the line of EMT workers from the dozens of ambulances lining the street. As neighbors walked by, wanting to find a way to volunteer, I would suggest a job. Take donuts right to the ambulances instead of make them come to the table. Find more tables to make sandwiches. Etc. Fellow New Yorkers were coming with donated items - boots, water, pizza, clothing - and I started organizing everything. Pretty soon we had piles of stuff, mainly because we were set up at the last place you could go without authorization. (You needed to show ID proving you lived south of 17th St.) Stuff started piling up.

Then a Harbor Police called up from his boat, asking if we had certain items. Pretty soon, we were filling his boat every 20 minutes, getting things to ground zero around the back, using the Hudson River. By the next day, we'd taken over Chelsea Piers, I had 200 people under me, and we became the main station for dispensing whatever was needed.

Our effort was completely ad hoc, spontaneous, tireless, manic. Each of us had a hole inside larger than the one created by misguided terrorists; into it we poured all our energy. As an independent all-volunteer force (my only mandate was "turn no one away"), we did a better job than the official organizations of getting what was needed to the right place, with the help of the NYPD Harbor Patrol. Until FEMA shut us down like thugs taking over a drug ring. The guys on the pile dubbed us "The Home Depot." Everything was donated: antibiotics, heavy duty gas masks, welding gear, buckets, even beer & cigarettes. We set up a station to find hotel rooms and housing for displaced people. We organized the Spirit Lines to dock just off ground zero and provide hot meals; I got actress friends to sing and serve. I kept a journal during that time. You can read it here: A Journal from the Streets.

Our efforts were included in the documentary "Answering the Call: Ground Zero's Volunteers." For the 10th Anniversary in 2011, I was interviewed for another related film, still in production, centering on what it's like ten years later. This caused me to revisit these songs. I decided to put them out as an album. "New Holy Land" is the first track.

I started writing the songs that are now compiled into "The September 11 Project - Ten Years Later" about seven weeks after 9/11, when I realized I could no longer work on the stage play I had been writing. Actually, I couldn't work at all. My brain didn't work right. I was obsessed with what had happened, with the relief effort. I became a CNN addict (and remained one for 3-4 years). But I needed to do something. So I started writing music about the collapse of the World Trade Center and it's aftermath. It was personal therapy. I've shared most of these songs during the first years of MacJams, so some of you have heard them before. But I've remastered them.

Because I now suffer from a lung disorder as many of us who volunteered and can no longer sing, the vocals couldn't be re-recorded. Everything is just as I played and sang 9-10 years ago in my living room; songs written and performed to heal something inside me. To express something inexpressible.

"New Holy Land" presents my personal experience. Every word is so pregnant with meaning for me, it is difficult for me to listen (to this or any of the songs on the album) without crying. And, now, when I cry, I risk a lung collapse and chest pain. Lots of deep breathing and trying to control myself happened during the remastering.

You can check out the album as a digital download at these links. There are reviews and other liner notes:

September 11 Project on CDBaby
Also on iTunes and Amazon.

Proceeds will go to efforts to help others with lung problems. I haven't picked the exact organization yet. Still doing research.

If you would like a burned copy, please send me a Note. Sometimes we all need a good cry.
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On the street,
20 hours on my feet.
I can't stand stay at home
watching all this need, so many here to feed,
so many volunteers bringing their small relief.
As the grey dust swirls everywhere,
DNA in the air,
no time for tears,
too much to bear.

Grim saviors in hard hats.
Bright angels in gas masks.
Everyone here's come to uncover a Holy Land.
Help to find it now, this new Holy Land.
Holy Land, come uncover it now, this sweet Holy Land.

From this, our darkest hour, wisdom shall rise,
and we, working shoulder to shoulder, revitalize.

Can't help but help.
Can't help but care.
Can't help feel it in the air
3,000 souls, 10 million hands,
each one making this new Holy Land.

Tower above in courage.
Tower above in kindness.
Tower above in a new kind of fineness.
Tower above in daring.
Tower above, united.
Tower above, come build this Holy Land.

Starting on the street alone.
Slice some bagels, pour a little coffee.
Find some people with a phone.
Get some help for those who are too groggy...

Here's what we need, need to proceed:
acetylene torches and something caffeine,
shovels and pails, filters and masks,
antibiotics and more things caffeine.
Here's what we need, need to succeed:
thick gloves and goggles and something caffeine.

I've got some clothes, some food to share.
I've got some time to spare...

Give it your heart.
Give it everything you know.
Give it your hands,
that's how we build this Holy Land, you know.

When all the rubble's cleared
and all the heroes cheered,
who will be there, still in the streets?
Homeless, with graveyard eyes,
lost amid enterprise?
Or will they too find a new Holy Land?
A new Holy Land...

All music & lyrics ©2001 Tobin Mueller.
Song Stats
Hits: 3291
Comments: 42
Fans: 22
Plays: 95
Downloads: 70

Uploaded: Sep 07, 2011 - 09:44:57 AM
Last Updated: Sep 09, 2011 - 01:18:01 PM Last Played: Jul 27, 2019 - 10:25:53 AM
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Feter said 2968 days ago (September 7th, 2011)
New Holy Land
Yes we all do need a good cry sometimes ... Thanks for sharing !
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TobinMueller said 2967 days ago (September 8th, 2011)
a good cry
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Moviz said 2968 days ago (September 7th, 2011)
A very
fine and moving tribute Tobin and a very moving read about your personal account of the terrible cruel tragedy simply named '9/11'. I'm so sorry that you and according to out TV reports, many, many others are suffering lung problems as a result of the horror; as if the tragedy itself wasn't enough.
Excellent song and lyrics, expertly performed and wrapped up with your special talents, regards M
Check out my latest song called We'll Meet Again
TobinMueller said 2967 days ago (September 8th, 2011)
your personal account
Thank you. The lung issues will get more press as time goes by, I'm sure. I recall composing these lyrics on the fly, as I sang them, stopping to think of the next line between phrases. The experience is right there, just behind the eyes, so coming up with the lyrics was easy. A release. I hadn't written a song in a few months prior. A lot of pent up energy...
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
J.A.Stewart said 2968 days ago (September 7th, 2011)
In the end...
the spirit(s) that survive and emerge renewed represent the hope for a new, better Holy Land.

Excellent job, Tobin. A remarkable chronicling of your experience and a very soulful performance and production.

Best wishes for improved health, my friend. ;)

--- Joe
Check out my latest song called Crankenhurst Challenge - Verse 1-7 (Inst. Break)
TobinMueller said 2967 days ago (September 8th, 2011)
A remarkable chronicling
Thank you. Those last lines haunt me more than the first. How much of these moments do we carry with us to manifest into our present as something better? And thanks for the health wishes. I'm learning how to avoid stress, which seems to be a growing problem but one I am getting a handle on. I'm very happy to have a new piano to play at home. I love it.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
J_Gretch said 2968 days ago (September 7th, 2011)
New Holy Land
Thank you for sharing the detailed story behind this...I'm at a loss for words,,,but thanks for sharing.
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TobinMueller said 2967 days ago (September 8th, 2011)
a loss for words
Funny you use that phrase. Ever since I've been unable to sustain my voice long enough to lay down vocals, I've stopped being able to think up lyrics. It's like, if I ever lost my hands, would I stop thinking of piano parts? I wonder.

During that experience 10 years ago, I was indeed at a loss for words. It was not only beyond words, it was somehow illegible. These words are surface therapy, drawing outside the lines, a facade of control and recognition. But they still make me cry. Especially those last few.

Thanks. And for your song, too.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
magnatone said 2968 days ago (September 7th, 2011)
New Holy Land
Tobin, this is just incredible. Your personal story of 911 is both harrowing and soulful - I'm blown away by this - thank you
Check out my latest song called Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen) and Variations
TobinMueller said 2967 days ago (September 8th, 2011)
harrowing and soulful
Thank you. I've posted other songs I wrote then, as well. "Was There Once A Time," "Last Call," and "I WIl Love." The last two are on a compilation album associated with the documentary I mentioned earlier. I'm glad this resonated with you.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
MarkHolbrook said 2968 days ago (September 7th, 2011)
Tobin... really top notch!!! Very cool!
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TobinMueller said 2966 days ago (September 9th, 2011)
And thank you for the work you did on Ed's Theme. Very touching, wonderfully thoughtful.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
dave_b said 2967 days ago (September 8th, 2011)
New Holy Land
Wow, this is a terrific track. The details in the lyric which arose out of personal experience paint an indelible picture of this defining moment in our history. The Gospel backer is a perfect choice to bring out the message of sacrifice and redemption.
Check out my latest song called Llarions Blues
TobinMueller said 2966 days ago (September 9th, 2011)
sacrifice and redemption
Thanks. It was easier to sing about the details than try to articulate any larger meaning, especially back then. The idea of sacrifice was too vast to touch. For any who survived, there was only redemption as a choice. Or, perhaps more immediate, a sense of balancing out karmic scales with trying to be as human as possible. Thanks for liking the Gospel thing. It's not something I've done very often.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
papag said 2967 days ago (September 8th, 2011)
Thinking about
all that went on during the crisis, I am reminded of the awesome work that our citizens did to support each other during that trying time.

Thank you for being part of the story above and for sharing the song.
Check out my latest song called found you over there
TobinMueller said 2966 days ago (September 9th, 2011)
awesome work that our citizens
I totally agree. It's what I hold dear from then, intellectually as least. The emotional exhaustion, and that something beyond grief and shock that cannot be articulated, are much closer under the skin that I had thought. This work up to the Ten Years Later events as at once genuinely good and disorienting, since I had thought I was passed these emotions. I'm glad for the families, so that they know little has been forgotten. But I am looking forward to a month from now when I don't think about it every hour.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
neilh79 said 2967 days ago (September 8th, 2011)
New Holy Land
Great tribute, excellent playing and great message well done
TobinMueller said 2966 days ago (September 9th, 2011)
Great tribute
Thanks. It started as therapy. I'm glad it ended as tribute.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Char said 2967 days ago (September 8th, 2011)
Ah, Tobin...
The good that comes from evil is the way in which people support each other. There are no small sacrifices when the need is so great. We are grateful for everyone who helped and mourn those who perished. Ten years later the experience of that day still affects all of us and even more so, those who, like you, were there. Thank you.
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TobinMueller said 2966 days ago (September 9th, 2011)
no small sacrifices
Thanks. I know, for myself, what we did seemed very small. But is was all we could do. As the Twin Towers dwarfed the other buildings in the skyline, so too did their collapse dwarf everything that followed. I couldn't sleep, couldn't really close my eyes, couldn't stay indoors, couldn't be alone, couldn't watch tv, couldn't work, couldn't focus on anything but our relief/support effort. So that's what I did.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Narad said 2966 days ago (September 9th, 2011)
New Holy Land
Beautiful way to celebrate a new beginning. :)
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TobinMueller said 2966 days ago (September 9th, 2011)
Beautiful way to celebrate a new beginning
That is a wonderful insight. Thank you. I guess it is what the song is about. There was something about what we did that seemed like not merely a renewed collaboration, but a new way to live. By the week's end, I think I even let myself believe that for a moment or two. But I'll always know it was possible, that new beginning. Always in us.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Soundhound said 2966 days ago (September 9th, 2011)
Well that was....
Good and churchy music, sounds like you had fun doing this...

Nice 1....
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Scott Carmichael said 2966 days ago (September 9th, 2011)
lump in the throat great
I've kept my back to the issue for a few years... that's the way I deal with some things that I can't process... I'm perplexed by our culture, and how political and PC the issue became... my response is to turn my back... experience has taught me that this only works for so long... and when you turn back around, it will wash over you... you've certainly put a crack in the armor.. the loss is still personal to me... there are many who are just gone now... not coming back... and we were helpless during and after...

and now I read through your excellent lyrics... and it's clear this had to be written... and it must have been somewhat healing... not that words are enough to heal... the last stanza sums it up for me...

a very good work... several lines are so ripe and carry such weight... simple and poignant... "DNA in the air"... but the image of uncovering a "holy land" is like the layers of an onion... and so strong... it would be enough just to possess your musical ability... but I'm always drawn to a compelling lyric... the story told in a new way... and with blunt force impact...

I plan on being away... on a road trip when the day arrives... but you almost got me to turn full face around...

deep admirer... Scott
Check out my latest song called He Has Passed this Way
TobinMueller said 2965 days ago (September 10th, 2011)
simple and poignant
Thanks, Scott. When I was jotting down ideas, they were scraps of visuals, broken like the steel that now has been spread across the country for 9/11 memorials in every state, countless towns. Fitting us together like pieces in a puzzle that can never be put back together yet somehow because of that makes us more unified. We are puzzle people trying to place, replace, place, find. And, yes, that last stanza...

Layers of an onion. Thanks. That is a nice metaphor for the pile of wreckage, and the wreckage inside. I like that. It is worth uncovering, all this.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Kicbal said 2966 days ago (September 9th, 2011)
I appreciate this as it's is so important to have songs, poems, thoughts recorded of what we all felt during tragic life-changing times, especially 9/11. Pictures and video say a lot but song and verse can say even more.
Check out my latest song called Close Call
TobinMueller said 2962 days ago (September 13th, 2011)
Sounds of Silence
And sometimes a song sung in a different context changes both the song and the context. Watching Paul Simon sing The Sounds of Silence at Ground Zero was like that for me. And to watch how his interpretation differed so dramatically. Very moving.

I put a song I wrote after 9/11 on my Ten Years Later CD that was originally written to my daughter following the divorce to my first wife, her mother. It struck me how it sounded like a song sung to a surviving daughter from a 9/11 ghost. Placing it in my 9/11 collection added layers to the song, and to my emotions that flowed from listing to the song.

Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Symphony101 said 2966 days ago (September 9th, 2011)
Every single
component on this song leave me speechless, awesome vocals, lyrics and fantastic music. This is what I want to become !
Check out my latest song called Standing On The Brink (w/ Mosaica)
TobinMueller said 2962 days ago (September 13th, 2011)
Thanks. I truly appreciate it.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
egobandit said 2965 days ago (September 10th, 2011)
heart felt
Some great vocal variations in this, It builds one phrase on top of another, you cant listen and not be touched! I left New York one week before it happened I had friends and family there, I remember as a kid playing in the twin tower lobby, and touching the heat sensor buttons the elevators had, When I went back to New York I was disoriented when I came out of the subway on spring street, I always used the Towers as a compass uptown downtown

IM rambling great song!
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TobinMueller said 2962 days ago (September 13th, 2011)
Thanks. I know exactly what you mean about disorientation. I was disoriented for months afterward, lost almost every time coming out of subways, buildings, with the reference of the Towers. I recall standing in the middle of Sixth Ave one morning, looking south, looking up at what was no longer there, lost in many ways. No one honked. They knew what I was feeling.

The vocal inserts and variations, like the stanza "From this, our darkest hour, wisdom shall rise," tried to express the layers that surrounded each moment. Thanks for mentioning those.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Dadai.2 said 2965 days ago (September 10th, 2011)
arrested as I listen. Tobin, thanks for this song. No critique, except to say your music and vocals powerfully communicated so many thoughts and emotions, hurts and hopes... of that day ten years ago as well as today.

Thanks bro...

Check out my latest song called Into The Down...
TobinMueller said 2962 days ago (September 13th, 2011)
hurts and hopes
You're welcome. Thanks, too.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
UnderThePianoMan said 2964 days ago (September 11th, 2011)
The music is inspiring and your story so moving. How unusual that I happened on it on the actually anniversary of the event. Thank you for who you are, what you have given and what you continue to give.
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TobinMueller said 2962 days ago (September 13th, 2011)
I think this 10th anniversary is the first one owned by the families, the survivors. Even though not having an official contingency of first responders at the site was beyond absurdity. But the fear mongering, the political posturing, the lack of site progress, all those things are behind us, I hope for good.

But it is no less raw than that first anniversary.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
paralax said 2962 days ago (September 13th, 2011)
very heart felt song.
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Doug Somers said 2951 days ago (September 24th, 2011)
Tower Above
The contrast of crushing fatigue against the dogged uplifting hope and connectedness of the human spirit comes through here with a clarity and vibrancy that I think is rare to encounter in any form of art. You sonically grab us by the lapels and make us listen to what we probably would rather gloss over if not ignore outright. There is power to this piece that has immediacy and authenticity which I would guess springs up from a deep and yet tender well of long immersed experiences.

I was going to talk about the things you creatively did to make this song work brilliantly, but in the end really you just summed up a thousand emotions and brought them in one concise power-packed wash of feeling which conveyed a level of understanding we never had before.

I wish you the best Tobin on all fronts, and dearly hope that there is a way to remedy the dreadful lung situation that you and all other first responders experience daily.

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TobinMueller said 2947 days ago (September 28th, 2011)
tender well of long immersed experiences
Wow. Thank you for the splendid and well appreciated review, and for your personal peace and wishes. Thank you.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
PeterB7858 said 2945 days ago (September 30th, 2011)
Hi Tobin. Missed this earlier. Glad I caught it now. You have done a tremendous job of tying together a terrible, confused but brave story with an uplifting musical offering that is inspirational. Sorry to hear about your lungs. The ramifications of the event just seem to go on and on. A wonderfully moving, personal account of a tragedy. Just fantastic. Take care, Peter.
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TobinMueller said 2941 days ago (October 4th, 2011)
terrible, confused, brave
Thanks. I truly appreciate it.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
MartinD28 said 2456 days ago (January 31st, 2013)
Opera in the streets
Wonderful and powerful. Communicates the explosion of positive emotions that kept your group providing aide and comfort during 911. I like the opera approach and musically it is top notch!
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TobinMueller said 2325 days ago (June 11th, 2013)
Opera in the Streets
Thank you. Love your comments. And I love that photo of you floating in the lake on your guitar. Way cool.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Artist Info
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Name: Tobin Mueller
Location: Rowayton CT USA
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I am a professional musician, composer, playwright and director. I've led a charmed life. I'm married to fellow MJer Suzanne and MJer Twonicus is my son, who currently sings and writes for rock bands in the NYC, D.C. and Cleveland areas. My second s... [see more]

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