Will you meet me in the middle, will you meet me in the air?
Well, I figured I would start my first song post with one of my absolute favorites, “Sister Golden Hair” by America. As much as I hate to admit it, I first heard this song playing in a movie that I was watching on Netflix, which I can’t remember the name of for the life of me; probably because the only part of the movie that fully captured my attention was when they played this song. I was captivated the second I heard that beautiful, electric guitar riff.
Let me start with some basic background before I delve into things. “Sister Golden Hair” was released on March 19th, 1975 and hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week. It was written and sung by Gerry Beckley, a founding member of America. If you are unfamiliar with this song or band, you might recognize another one of their #1 singles, “A Horse With No Name.” Yep, that’s them, too. Dewey Bunnell, Dan Peek and Gerry Beckley formed America in 1970 after attending High School together, and ironically enough, they were actually British, but dubbed the name “America” to try to hide the fact that they were British dudes with an “American” sound. The LP “Hearts” which “Sister Golden Hair” is on was produced by the iconic George Martin, whom you may be familiar with if you’ve ever heard of The Beatles (lol). That being said, Martin led America to develop a heavier “rock” sound, adding brass, bass and electric guitar to their sound, which in their earlier years was primarily acoustic.
Beckley, Peek and Bunnell (1972)
After I listened to this song a few times, I began to think it sounded familiar. Sure, I could have and probably did hear it when I was a kid, but I didn’t think that’s why it sounded familiar. Then suddenly, “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison (which I have to write about at some point because amazing song!!) shuffled up on my Spotify and I had one of those super cool, movie-like “aha!!!” moments. Like, I literally said it out loud to myself. “Sister Golden Hair” sounded familiar because it sounded like “My Sweet Lord.” The opening chords and guitar riff share similar structure and sound, and when I looked it up I found that America indeed did draw inspiration from Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” when figuring out the guitar composition. I think it’s super awesome and respectable when artists can draw inspiration from one another without completely copying or ripping them off (unlike Vanilla Ice who LITERALLY STOLE the bass line from “Under Pressure!!” I don’t care what he says about adding one extra beat he straight up COPIED Queen/Bowie SMH but this is starting to get off topic lol sorry). My main point, if any song sounds similar to a George Harrison song, it’s gonna be a good one.
I’m into the whole folk/rock vibe, and “Sister Golden Hair” does not disappoint. It’s like a mystical blend of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young meets upbeat Eagles. In my humble opinion, it is one of the literal BEST songs to drive to (especially down a highway under blue skies if we’re getting specific here). I highly recommend you try it out, though. Not only is the melody so sweet, but the lyrics make you wonder. There have been many theories and interpretations about the meaning of this song. This is because the lyrics do not script out an objective meaning. Beckley commented, “All of our songs…are open for interpretation. “Sister” is a relationship song and there are a variety of elements. We always combine them as songwriters so that they’re not verbatim, word for word, for a particular circumstance. Poetic license we call it.” Poetic license. That’s genius!! So there you have it folks, this song can mean whatever it wants to mean to you. For me, I see it as the narrator being in love with someone they intend to marry, but struggles with emotional detachment. Even though they are in love, they find it hard to be close to someone, emote their true feelings, and outwardly show their affection. I think this one line sums up the entire story and inner feelings of the narrator:
“Well I tried to fake it, I don’t mind sayin’, I just can’t make it”
LISTEN TO THE SONG HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIycEe59Auc
I’m glad you’re writing about America, they were a great band and perhaps overlooked by this generation. A lot of bands over the years get held up to the Beatles; Squeeze, Oasis, etc. but America came as close as any band could!