Tuesday, August 13, 2019


I don't know, exactly, what determines if a song works to its full desired effect. It's a highly subjective thing, right? One person gets choked up hearing Bruce Springsteen's "Backstreets," another can be moved to outward emotion by Kansas' "Dust in the Wind." Two wildly divergent forms of music, but each capable of triggering something in the individual listener.

So I don't know the exact formula; it's likely that no one does. But I will say this. When two young sisters write a song honoring a musical legend, and then perform that song in front of that musical legend, and that musical legend is moved to tears by that performance? Yeah, I think that is a good definition of success. Of a song that has reached its desired effect.

Case in point. Here is what I am talking about.

I'll be honest, I had never heard of this sister duo, called First Aid Kit and born, like them, in Sweden. Not until it was suggested I watch this video. But Lord am I glad I checked this out. The Soderberg sisters—Johanna is the older one, she's on the left singing harmony and taking lead on the bridge, and her younger sister Klara is on the right, playing guitar and singing lead—are each in their early 20s during this (I think) 2015 performance, and they are admittedly singing in front of one of their idols. Yet they show the poise of hard-boiled musical veterans, flawlessly delivering a song that is just unceasingly tender and lovely.

Much like the Everly Brothers of a different era, or the Carter family or the Jacksons or even the Osmonds, there is something about siblings singing together that, when done right, reaches an ethereal level that is nearly impossible to top. It's organic, embedded in marrow and plasma and intertwined in the DNA, and Johanna and Klara just put it on full display here. Johanna introduces the very meaning of the song with crystal perfection, and offers a bit of meta commentary on First Aid Kit while she does it, "We were so inspired (by the music of Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons) that we wrote this song, which is about the joy and the magic of singing with someone you love."


As for the magnificent Emmylou? Well, her reaction pretty much says it all. From the warm double kiss she blows to them at the outset, to the tiny wistful smile we see on her face as she focuses so intently on the song, to the tears she wipes from her eyes when the song inevitably overtakes her, that reaction is just priceless.

Oh, and the guy sitting next to her seems to appreciate it too. And he's only the freaking King of Sweden. But no pressure, ladies.

I'll be your Emmylou 
And I'll be your June 
You'll be my Gram 
And Johnny too
And I'm not asking that much of you
Just sing, little darling, sing with me

1 comment:

  1. Love this - thanks for sharing both the video and your great perspective