Friday, March 27, 2015

Sing-a-long with First Aid Kit

The soundtrack for 1968 doesn't have an equal that comes easily to mind.  I, whose adventures seem to have been always inadvertent rather than intentional, spent a part of that iconic year in Washington, D.C., a volunteer typist for what they called then "the New Left" and, additionally, employed by the Washington Post.  I did find and sign on for the underground press gig.  Adventure would describe it.  I wish, though, that I could claim a fearless nature and pioneering spirit, both growing stronger with age.  Alas, it is not so.  I did not go off to search for America but find, especially as sung by the sisters of First Aid kit, the song brings me to tears.  Whether it is the tsunami of memories from that year, my roommate and I driving to find the rural crossing where we watched the train carrying Bobby Kennedy's body back to D.C. or the National Guard camped at the end of Church Street after Dr. King's assassination, or the immediate wondering, so many decades later, if today's 22 or 23-year-olds feel the song as I and my contemporaries still do.

"America" is from Simon and Garfunkle's album, BOOKENDS.  Even though we listened to the same music in each others' apartments or funky row house co-op, everyone with a record player owned the same albums.  My life was too transient for that, yet radio was what we thought radio would always be, nothing but our favorite music.  Otis Redding, "Scarborough Fair," Dylan and more Dylan and the Doors.  I think I've officially become part of a dwindling generation that knows its own ghost-filled past better than it knows the present.  There is a place for us in those long-ago rooms.  It is not nostalgia but another reality.  First Aid Kit sings it as though they'd been there, too.


Elizabeth said...

Oh, how fantastic. I love this band, too -- have been listening to them, of late. Thank you for posting this particular song which I haven't heard and for your words. I loved this: "I think I've officially become part of a dwindling generation that knows its own ghost-filled past better than it knows the present." Although I am perhaps nearly a decade "younger" than the music of which you speak, it formed me as a college student when I "discovered" it. I think there's hope in its eternality, though. I have to think so --

I was trying to explain to my son the other day why music today is "over-produced." It was a hard conversation!

Marylinn Kelly said...

Elizabeth - Thank you. I intend to listen to more of First Aid Kit's music. They bring out every haunting, yearning note of this song, don't they? The foot-in-both-worlds feeling of knowing it is now, yet being there in another time and place, through the prompt of music or fragrance. Watching the final episodes of TREME recently, I was happy to be able to identify from the first notes the music of Sidney Bechet, which my mother loved and I grew up hearing. There is hope in the eternality of things. Would we cling to them as fiercely if today didn't feel so collectively lost? I imagine a future session with your son, compare and contrast. Which is why I especially love finding contemporary musicians whose work I can embrace. xo