The first time I heard Kevin Morby’s This is a Photograph on the radio, I immediately thought of this photograph. Dad sitting by a kiddie pool, smiling into the camera while my brother and I splash around in few inches of water on a hot August day. My mother behind the camera.
This is a photograph, a window to the past
Of your father on the front lawn, with no shirt on
Ready to take the world on, beneath the West Texas sun
The year that you were born, the year that you are now
His wife behind the camera, his daughter and his baby boy
Got a glimmer in his eye, seems to say, “This is what I’ll miss after I die
And this is what i’ll miss about being alive
My body, my girls, my boy, the sun”
Unlike the father in Morby’s song, my dad has a shirt on, beneath a West Pennsylvania sun, with his sons. Despite the differences, the sentiment is the same.
In the second verse, Morby sings;
And this is a photograph, a window to the past
Of your mother in a skirt, in the cool Kentucky dirt
Laughing in the garden, back where it all started
With a smile on her face, everything in its place
Got a glimmer in her eye, seems to say, “This is what I’ll miss about being alive
And this is what I’ll miss after I die”
My version is of my mother holding a black cat, in the cool Missouri dirt, in front of the house she grew up in.
I’m fortunate to have these photos of my parents from so long ago. Although they are only two dimensional pieces of coated paper, they truly are windows to the past.
I wonder if this generation, who’s family photos only exist on hard drives and ever changing storage media, will still exist in the decades to come. As in the first line of the chorus, Time’s the undefeated, the heavyweight champ. We should make more prints.
If you live near Philadelphia you can catch Kevin Morby at The Ardmore Music Hall on October 25th 2022