I’m firmly of the belief that a certain brand of nostalgia — that ever-present nag that music stopped being good when the ‘rents stopped being young enough to enjoy the new stuff — is toxic and has no place in our music community. Thankfully, Chris Robley’s “1973” is of the more pleasant sort, genially sepia-toned instead of acid-stained. It’s a self-admitted “fantasy”, a pleasant scene of how two folks met and made a kid that doesn’t actually exist in Robley’s true life, but oftentimes fantasy is compelling too. And “1973” certainly is compelling, charming wordless harmonies preceding a folk-rock stomp and killer psychedelic guitar solo. It might be a fictionalized portrait of the year it attempts to illustrate, but that fiction is a genuine joy—if a slightly depressing one—nonetheless.
“‘1973’ is one of the songs on the record that has absolutely nothing to do with me. It’s complete fiction, a mix between ‘1941’ by Nilsson and ‘That Was Your Mother’ by Paul Simon,” says Robley. “It’s sung from the point of a view of a deadbeat dad returning after too long away to rationalize his absence. I have a great dad. I wasn’t born in 1973. But I had the chord changes, and when I started to write a melody those were the words that came.”