Sir Paul McCartney delivered a global message of peace to more than a billion people worldwide by performing his 9-11 tribute song "Freedom" live at the Louisiana Superdome on Sunday, February 3, 2002, in New Orleans. In this post 9-11 world, the 2002 Super Bowl took on a patriotic theme for it's ninth visit to New Orleans.
"With the events of September 11th, we've redefined and refocused the game presentation, and the theme is celebration of the human spirit and the values of freedom, and also to everyday heroes," said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. "And with that in mind, we sought out the entertainment community. They sought us out as well."
In a released statement, McCartney remarked, "As a sports fan, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be involved in the Super Bowl, and as a musician, I am honored to add my voice to the message of tribute that this year's Super Bowl will carry". Super Bowl XXXVI was rescheduled for February because of the 9-11 tragedy.
On September 11, McCartney was on the tarmac at New York's JFK airport waiting for take-off when the suicide hijackers crashed two planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. "I was sitting on a plane at New York airport and watched it unfold through the windows. It will live with me forever," said McCartney. He was inspired to compose the song "Freedom" and debuted it at the Concert for New York City to boost relief funds for the victims.
The Boston Pops provided a symphonic suite for the stadium spectators. Mary J. Blige and Marc Anthony sang "America the Beautiful" together to launch the 2002 Super Bowl Pregame Show. The two teams competing for the NFL Championship Title in Super Bowl XXXVI were the AFC pennant champs, the New England Patriots and the NFC pennant champs, the Saint Louis Rams.
A video montage consisting of clips of The Beatles, Wings, and his recent Cavern Club appearance preceded the introduction of Sir Paul. McCartney made his entrance onto the field at 6:05 PM, escorted by hundreds of beautiful young cheerleaders representing all of the nations televising the annual football match. He hustled to the stage greeting the audience, "Hi New Orleans, hello America, we love you. Everybody clap your hands for freedom."
Supported by a four piece band, McCartney came on stage holding an acoustic guitar. During the song, the cheerleaders paraded around the field. As the song built to a crescendo, a large mural of the Statue of Liberty rose behind him as international flags were marched down in front of the stage; a most impressive show of unity, confidence, and strength.
McCartney looked good, sounded great, and seemed relaxed and ready to perform. Following his brief field performance, the Boston Pops performed the National Anthem sang by Mariah Carey. She did a wonderful job, flanked by flag raising recreations of Iwo Jima and the WTC.
The Super Bowl XXXVI Louisiana Superdome Special Coin Toss Ceremony featured former President George H.W. Bush and Roger Staubach who lead the Dallas Cowboys in 1971 Super Bowl VI in New Orleans. President Bush graciously gave the coin toss to Staubach. The coin landed as heads won by the Rams who elected to receive the ball. The 2002 season playoff kicked off with a 6:42 PM game time.
Ireland's premiere rock band, U2, performed at the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Bono made his way through the ecstatic audience, singing the intro of "Beautiful Day". Incredibly, U2's Elevation Tour heart-shaped stage was set up on the playing field. The band delivered an abreviated segue of "MLK" into a stirring "Where The Streets Have No Name". The Irish quartet were really tight, whipping the Superdome crowd into concert hysteria.
During "Streets", the names of all those lost on 9-11 were projected behind the band onto a giant screen, scrolling upwards. At an earlier New Orleans press conference, U2 vocalist Bono stated, "Can you imagine what it feels like to be Irish and be at the most American of occasions? It's most overwhelming". Bono continued, "We've had an incredible year in America. And post September 11, to have our album mean so much to people who are not U2 fans is very special to me".
McCartney sat in on a halftime interview with Super Bowl anchormen, following U2's stellar Halftime performance. He announced he would be commencing a U.S. tour, starting on the West Coast in April. NFL commentator Terry Bradshaw goaded Macca into singing an impromptu rendition of John Lennon's "A Hard Day's Night".
With seconds remaining on the clock in the fourth quarter, the New England Patriots upset Super Bowl XXXVI with a 48 yard field goal, defeating the Saint Louis Rams 20 to 17. The Rams had been predicted as the victors of the 2002 playoff, but the Patriots' team name had a more deserving drive to secure the NFL championship.
This was Macca's first appearance since promoting Peace in Oslo, Norway, on Tuesday, December 11, 2001. He participated in the 100th Anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony concert, dedicating that set to fellow former Beatle George Harrision who passed away last November 29. His first international telecast was with The Beatles, appearing as representatives from England on the historic Our World satellite broadcast performing "All You Need Is Love" in June 1967.
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Freedom on a global scale
Paul McCartney kicks off Super Bowl XXXVI
by Timothy Tilghman