STARS AND STRIPES
In the early '90s, country enjoyed an unprecedented boom, inspired, in part, by Gulf War patriotism (and Garth Brooks, of course). Recently the genre has faded somewhat from pop consciousness, but in the aftermath of Sept. 11, country's comforting themes and flag-waving fervor seem a lot more relevant. And as proof, America-themed tunes are storming the charts, with Billboard Hot 100 appearances from Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A.," Aaron Tippin's "Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly," and Brooks & Dunn's "Only in America." An all-star "America the Beautiful," featuring Clint Black, Vince Gill, and others, is charting, and versions of the national anthem by Faith Hill and the Dixie Chicks are also connecting with fans. Although Randy Travis wrote his newly released "America Will Always Stand" in response to the attacks, many of these of-the-moment songs were recorded prior to Sept. 11. "The truth is that country music has always been about country, about America," says Jon Anthony, the assistant program director and music director for D.C. country station WMZQ. "And the healing properties of country radio have been incredible for the past month."