Let's Roll

Album: Are You Passionate? (2001)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This song is about Flight 93, the plane that was hijacked on September 11, 2001, but crashed in Pennsylvania before hitting the terrorists' target, which was probably a building in Washington, D.C.
  • Young wrote this after reading about Todd Beamer, one of the passengers who fought the hijackers and crashed the plane. Beamer called an Airfone operator to explain that they were going to rush the terrorists. Before he hung up, the operator heard him tell the other passengers, "Let's Roll." This conversation with the Airfone operator was the inspiration for the lyrics.

    "Let's Roll" was Beamer's favorite saying. He said it to his kids all the time.
  • Young described the creative inspiration behind the song in a 2002 interview with Pulse Magazine: "[Beamer's wife Lisa] was talking about how he always used to say that ("let's roll") with the kids when they'd go out and do something, that it's what he said a lot when he had a job to do. And it's just so poignant, and there's no more of a legendary, heroic act than what those people did. With no promise of martyrdom, no promise of any reward anywhere for this, other than just knowing that you did the right thing. And not even having a chance to think about it or plan it or do anything - just a gut reaction that was heroic and ultimately cost them all their lives. What more can you say? It was just so obvious that somebody had to write something or do something."
  • This was not released as a commercial single, but Young sent the song to radio stations, which started playing it in November 2011. Young didn't do any typical promotion for the song, but radio stations picked it up anyway, notably KLOS in Los Angeles, which was the first to air it. As soon as a few stations started playing the song, many others followed. In 2002, Young included the song on his album, Are You Passionate?
  • The band playing with Young on this song is Booker T. & the MG's, famous as the Stax Records house band, where they played on many Soul classics by Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and Isaac Hayes. They had a hit of their own in 1962 with "Green Onions."
  • Frank "Poncho" Sampedro joined on guitar for this. He was a member of Young's band, Crazy Horse.
  • According to CNN, Young was threatened with civil action by Beamer's wife Lisa, who stated that prior to the song's release she had planned to trademark the phrase "Let's Roll" to be used on various collectibles, in hopes of attracting prospective converts to fundamentalist Christianity. Several merchants had applied for the trademark before her, and before Young's song was released. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ekristheh - Halath

Comments: 13

  • Fred from Laurel, MdGreat song, indeed! I never expected this level of courage from Neil, but he clearly has it. Let us always remember the brave of our country? Let us always BE the brave of our country! That's what this song says so forcefully. "You got to turn on evil when it's comin' after you / You got to face it down, and when it tries to hide / You got to go in after it and never be denied." * * * * To that list of 'best songs written about 9/11,' I would add "There Are No Words" by Kitty Donohoe.
  • Scott from Boston, MaThis song's available on iTunes now, so a lot more people can buy it.
  • Larry from Winchester, CaHello,
    Anybody Out There?
    Larry Haertling
  • Larry from Winchester, CaI Think you sould ALL watch Mystries of 911 at let'sroll911.org! And then coment on this song!
    Larry Haertling
  • Ron from Bentonville, ArWow, I have an mp3 of this, I feel privileged!
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesActually, Beamer didn't say "let's roll..." he said "roll it!" meaning a coffee cart they were going to use. More at wikipedia. But like many military and law enforcement officers, he was fond of the phrase and people who knew him said he used "let's roll" for "let's go".
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScThere is a classic rock station wher I live, but it probably didn't play it. That station on a scale of 1 to 10, has a 0 in the variety department.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScI have listened to free-form stations before. There aren't any where I live though. I definitely wasn't listening to a free-form station at that time.
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesPop stations in central Indiana played this fairly often when it came out.
  • Pat from Las Vegas, NvThis song, along with Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising," are the best ones written about 9/11. Todd Beamer and his fellow passengers were heroes, without a doubt.

    Stefanie, you probably wouldn't have heard the song unless you listened to a "free form," "adult rock," or "classic rock" station. Pop stations didn't play it.
  • Leon from Waterbury, CtA very good song...I do recall hearing it many times on the radio, especially some classic rock stations.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScIf the song was played a lot on the radio, then i never heard it.
  • Andrew from Springfield, MoGreat song, I love it. Let us always remember the brave of our country.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

The Truth Is Out There: A History of Alien Songs

The Truth Is Out There: A History of Alien SongsSong Writing

The trail runs from flying saucer songs in the '50s, through Bowie, blink-182 and Katy Perry.

Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al YankovicFact or Fiction

Did Al play on a Beach Boys record? Did he have beef with George Lucas and Coolio? See if you can spot weird but true stories.

Little Richard

Little RichardFact or Fiction

Was Long Tall Sally a cross-dresser? Did he really set his piano on fire? See if you know the real stories about one of rock's greatest innovators.

Janis Ian

Janis IanSongwriter Interviews

One of the first successful female singer-songwriters, Janis had her first hit in 1967 at age 15.

Jack Blades of Night Ranger and Damn Yankees

Jack Blades of Night Ranger and Damn YankeesSongwriter Interviews

Revisit the awesome glory of Night Ranger and Damn Yankees: cheesily-acted videos, catchy guitar licks, long hair, and lyrics that are just plain relatable.

Bible Lyrics

Bible LyricsMusic Quiz

Rockers, rappers and pop stars have been known to quote the Bible in their songs. See if you match the artist to the biblical lyric.