“We come in the age’s most uncertain hour and sing an American Tune.”
Though it hasn’t been in the charts since it was released on Paul Simon’s 1973 album There Goes Simon, this line is surprisingly accurate and comforting in 2020’s pandemic-stricken world.
Lots of music comes out every year, and this year has been no exception. Most of the songs on the charts follow the same structure and themes as they have for the last couple of years. Though we’ve lost a lot of the trappings that music brings (a situation that Rolling Stone refers to as “wreaking havoc”) it’s nice to have some things remain the same in a world where so much is changing. Despite this, I can’t help but feel like what we really need is to look back to music from our past.
I don’t imagine many students on-campus are listening to Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’” right now, but maybe they should. Folk hasn’t been a popular music genre for years, so I doubt very many of you have ventured very far into that territory. Words are important in a world where people are often afraid to speak out. If you’ve kept up on politics, social movements, or just the daily news, I’m sure you’ll find that these particular words, though originally penned in 1962, still ring true:
“Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall”
Change is coming slowly and in unconventional ways, but it still is, to use Dylan’s term “a-changin’.” Students especially know this struggle, as there’s plenty of us on campus deeply concerned with society and how we interact with it, from voting to protesting. There’s a lot of fighters here who need anthems to hold on to nowadays. American tunes.
Today’s music just doesn’t always seem to latch on to how people are feeling inside or feeling about their evolving cultural lives. Everyone needs a break from reality, and music can offer that, but it sort of shallows in comparison to the songs of old. It doesn’t make those songs invalid or irrelevant and I’m sure most of you enjoy them and are quite familiar with today’s popular artists. That’s excellent, and it’s good to see those musicians being supported .
However, maybe you ought to look back a few decades and explore other music for yourself. I didn’t consider myself being into American folk music until just this year, and I found myself completely surprised by how much I could relate to it 40 or 50 years after it had been written. These songs last.
The pandemic has certainly brought Americans and especially students into an uncertain hour. It can be hard to know what to do, but if you’ve got a song to guide you then you might just feel a little more inspired and more hopeful.
Find your own American Tune.
Written by Samantha Filer,Staff Writer. Photo courtesy of Pexels.