Song of the Week: “Young Man in America” by Anais Mitchell

I feel a certain affinity to Anais Mitchell. We’re both from the Addison County Vermont, are the same age, and have a writer as a parent. Wanting very much to throw back a beer with her at the local bar, I’ll settle now for praising a song.

I’m really wild about musicians who write well. Mitchell is really one of the best songwriters out there. In “Young Man In America” the momentum is exhilarating. To me the song is part familiar account of immigrating to America, (or just being given new opportunity) and unbridled desire, racked with longing…

The speaker(s) of the song is essentially abandoned and must rise on his own. But in a way the song also supersedes specific time, specific place—it resonates across generations. Bittersweet, complex, filled with poverty and the riches of the American Dream, the spirit is all-encompassing. Complexities come from the resentment and the longing to be both in America (the new parent) and to return to the original parent. A drive, but also a fear, to experience life to its full extent.

It’s a sentiment we can readily understand.

-Bianca Stone

Bianca Stone is the author of several poetry chapbooks and an ongoing poetry-comic series from Factory Hollow Press. She is the illustrator of Antigonick, a collaboration with Anne Carson and her first full-length collection of poetry Someone Else’s Wedding Vows will be out in 2014 from Tin House/Octopus Books. She lives in Brooklyn.

Questions, compliments, (hopefully not) complaints?

Contact Jackie Clark: jackie [at] coldfrontmag [dot] com.

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