Music

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."

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