Fireworks

I don’t know a lot of the music of the Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit, though I have posted two of their songs already: “Cedar Lane,” back in the first week of this blog, then“Emmylou” (a tribute to the country singer Emmylou Harris) this past March. I think on the next Bandcamp Friday (the first Friday each month since March 2020 when the platform waives its revenue share as a response to the pandemic’s effects on recording artists), I will stock up on the band’s music.

For quite some time, I have wanted to post “Fireworks,” and today, I found a fantastic video version. In it, the band members are all dressed in 1970s garb (though some look a little 60’s). The group is expanded from the usual four (or sometimes five when using a pedal steel guitar) piece ensemble with another guitarist and a second percussionist. I like to post performance videos whenever I find official versions, as my sweety enjoys watching musicians singing and playing. This video is charming, entertaining and moving all at the same time.

The notion of fireworks also brings to mind memories of this past summer and Canada Day, the anniversary of my country’s 1867 confederation, traditionally a time celebrated with grand fireworks displays. This year, the occasion was surrounded by controversy due to publicity around burial sites attached to what were known as Indian Residential Schools, where Indigenous children suffered neglect and abuse after being forcibly taken from their family homes. While the institutions’ true history has been known (and denied) for many years, the physical evidence emerging now has made the longstanding claims of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people incontrovertible, and caused my country to face the shadow side of its history. Many people decided not to romanticize the holiday this year, instead standing in solidarity with North America’s first inhabitants and descendants.

As for the intended meaning of the song, I haven’t been able to independently confirm the information one commenter put on the YouTube video page who claims to quote from a press release saying, “Fireworks is about the goals and demands you put on yourself in life and how they can break you down to emptiness and loneliness.” 

Another aspect of the song that struck me this summer was the belief about fireworks being harmful to animal life, causing trauma and fear. As we grow and develop as a species, humans must recognize our impact on the world. Simply dismissing beliefs as cancel culture doesn’t acknowledge that our activities do, in fact, place stress on the planet and the living beings on it.

The powerful drum beats by the primary drummer evoke the heavy bursts of exploding fireworks, as well as emphasizing the deep emotion of the song, while the second drummer’s snare drum mimics the shimmering light display as the embers fall from the sky. The song is brilliantly played.

All those related, personal observations aside, “Fireworks” is an excellent example of the superb songwriting and musicianship of sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg. Originally from their fourth album, Ruins (2018), today’s version comes from the EP Live from the Rebel Hearts Club (also 2018). Those will be on my Bandcamp Friday list for October 1, along with checking out Who by Fire (2021), a live tribute to the Canadian poet, novelist, singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen (1934-2016).

“I could have sworn, I saw fireworks
From your house, last night
As the lights flickered and they failed
I had it all figured out

Why do I do this to myself
Every time I know the way it ends
Before it’s even begun
I am the only one at the finish line

I took a trip out to the frozen lake
And you felt so far away
But I could feel it washing over me
There’s no escaping, the harsh light of day

Why do I do this to myself
Every time I know the way it ends
Before it’s even begun
I am the only one at the finish line

Stood out on that beach in Chicago
Woke up next to you on Silverlake Avenue
Wherever I went, I always knew, always knew
Until I didn’t know

Why do I do this to myself
Every time I know the way it ends
Before it’s even begun
I am the only one at the finish line

I could’ve sworn, I saw fireworks
From your house, last night”

(“Fireworks,” by Klara Söderberg, Johanna Söderberg.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com)

“Fireworks” is a poignant work, and as with all life on earth, a reminder of our need for companionship and the caring protection of community.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official music video from First Aid Kit’s YouTube channel

2 thoughts on “Fireworks

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