Without a song throws a spotlight on bands, albums and tracks beloved of Skin Back Alley. Old, new, classic or cutting edge, our aim is to share good music that has touched us through the years.
It would be easy, lazy even, to paint Anna Atkinson’s song “When We Were Young” as pure nostalgia. The video that sees Atkinson visiting a once familiar neighbourhood; the black and white imagery; the dancing figures that hark back to childhood.
But it seems to me that Atkinson’s song and video are using the past to help build a tapestry that very much frames the present. The poetic lyric that references weaving, embroidery, clothing and materials points to the idea of creating something new from disparate elements; taking experiences of the past and building on them to create something worthwhile in the now, or for the future.
Says Atkinson: “I’m a descendant of a long line of makers. My maternal grandfather was a shoemaker who also made ornate wood carvings with a pen knife. My mother was a visual artist, phenomenal cook and quilt maker.
“My ancestors from both sides of my family experienced poverty, war, suffering, beyond anything I can imagine. And yet in the face of that, they continued to make things of incredible beauty.”
“When I was a child, my mother had a subscription to ARTnews, and one edition had an article about a Canadian artist – Janet Morton – who knit a sweater for a house on Ward’s Island. I thought it was the most amazing concept and it was the initial inspiration for the song.”
However you chose to interpret the track, “When We Were Young’s” exquisitely crafted, sparse arrangement – grounded in a minimal viola line – and simple, beautiful way with words make a breathtaking whole. Take a look and listen for yourself below.
“When We Were Young” is taken from Anna Atkinson’s new album, Sky Stacked Full, available now via Bandcamp.