Nathan Kalish's "Pam & Tim" Looks at the Harsh Toll Health Crises Take on the Working Class (premiere)

Photo: Amy Thorne / Courtesy of Baby Robot Media

Although it was written two years ago, Americana artist Nathan Kalish's "Pam & Tim" is strikingly relevant today in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nathan Kalish wrote "Pam & Tim" a while back, but it's hauntingly applicable to today's circumstances. A highlight from his recently released self-produced tenth album, Songs For Nobody, the rollicking Americana tune's driving theme is a lament on the capitalistic nature of the United States in light of a health crisis. These searing reflections are delivered vigorously by Kalish, its spry instrumentation a force prepared to fill any honky-tonk with its rootsy charisma. Recorded by Greg Mullen with art by Kate Krebs, its music video is simple, old-school Americana; a subtle reflection of the truths being marked by Kalish in his song.

Kalish tells PopMatters, "'Pam & Tim' is about how working folks take work that is harmful to their well-being because they need the money. You see it all the time, and now more obviously with the COVID-19 pandemic. People can't afford to not work, so they end up getting sick or getting others sick. This is the general premise of this song, but I wrote it two years ago and used cancer and chemicals as the issue at hand, not COVID-19. In a capitalist society, we sacrifice our bodies and freedom for money, which is no good if you have no time to spend it or end up being sick all the time."

He continues, "This one was fun to do, Laur Joamets is the guitarist on this, and he tuned his guitar up to F standard to play in an E formation whereas I used a capo on the first fret with the acoustic. I played the harmonica as a cross harp on this because the actual 'Tim' always makes fun of my straight harp playing, which is what I do mostly live when I use a rack, but I did the cross harp in his honor."





'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.


​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.


Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.


Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.


Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.


Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.


Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.


Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.


Alastair Sim: A Very English Character Actor Genius

Alastair Sim belongs to those character actors sometimes accused of "hamming it up" because they work at such a high level of internal and external technique that they can't help standing out.


Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers Head "Underwater" in New Video (premiere)

Celebrating the first anniversary of Paper Castle, folksy poppers Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers release an uplifting new video for opening track, "Underwater".


Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's New LP Is Lacking in Songcraft but Rich in Texture

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's The Mosaic of Transformation is a slightly uneven listen. It generally transcends the tropes of its genre, but occasionally substitutes substance for style.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.