The 1900s

Feb 11, 2008 Daytrotter Studio, Rock Island, IL

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  1. Welcome to Daytrotter 00:04
  2. City Water 04:05
  3. When I Say Go 03:15
  4. Two Ways 03:14
  5. Georgia 02:25
The 1900s

Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley

There's this girl, goes by the name of Georgia, and she's got a song written about her or in favor of her, by the Chicago group The 1900s. A wholesome name is Georgia, with connotations of being someone who should be courted by a man like Rhett Butler or Clark Gable himself. The dresses, flowing things of light breezes and youthful blizzards, cover a body that's never been felt and some of the most unimaginably beautiful legs, are cooperative but concealing. The name in and of itself generates softness and effortless sweet winds, demonstrative flourishes of bygone pillars and moon crescents. It's of powder rooms and horse drawn carriages, chivalry and four layers of undergarments. It harkens back to an era that showed a nation still in its infancy, learning how to walk, then run, then tie its shoes, then make them - an impression that now seems to have all happened in the same day.

But there's something different about the girl named Georgia that Edward Anderson and the 1900s sing about on Cold & Kind. She sounds to have been tampered with, to have been exploited some, fallen in with the rough and tumble - an alcoholic Ty Cobb, not Butler or Gable. She sounds to have been the beautiful girl with mountainous dreams, a good family, ambition and visual appeal, only to have been sucked under the bus and rolled over a few times. By the time she's realized that that dress she's wearing is filthy, that her hands are dirty and her reputation is sullied, she's living a vastly different life than the one that was supposed to have been a shoo-in, the will. It wasn't transitional, it just happened. With the scope of a long enough period of time, it's never really that way - nothing ever plays out under the cover of a momentary lapse or a magical cloud of smoke - but flipping the periscope or magnifying glass around and it's a different viewpoint altogether. Georgia had never planned to take it from behind from boys, as the 1900s offer, and yet it happens, frequently is the general consensus. The life that she's living in is muddied and strange. She might still be the same person, somewhere there on the inside, but the intrusion of reality - such a sour and unappealing one - has blurred those boundaries and smudged the borders, the rivers all flow together and there's no shifting the two back into their honest beds.

It's a shared bed for Georgia and it's a shared bed for the 1900s, who seem to be four-legged (that's 21 different legs in all), dangling those feet in the glorious past, the present, the ideal and the fictional. They find the one that's in the present unavoidable but problematic. They find the one that's hanging in the past to be confused and ruby-colored. It could have been this leg whose great mind came up with the band's moniker, believing that back then things were so much better - when we were just settling this huge land, when there was one treacherous passage through the Rockies, when we milked our own milk, when we raised our own bread and more. There's some concrete in that, the willful misunderstanding that time deteriorates everything. In the 108 years since the second-to-last turn of the century, all has gone through a perversion and the 1900s shed some light on moral depravity, but do it in a contagiously poppy way, almost gleefully mentioning it between licks on their Saf-T-Pops, doing a curtsey and moving on.

Many songs, though mainly sung by Anderson, carry a female perspective or are stories about women and they show more of the interesting spirits that we could liken to Diablo Cody models - women who potentially used to strip in Minnesota, but didn't let the bill-paying power of the occupation crush any spirits and went on to write a screenplay about teenage pregnancy and the unlikely search for true love that would get an Oscar nomination of all things. The 1900s believe in the hamburger phone that Juno uses to phone the abortion clinic, a dichotomous image and one that suits a band that recognizes that there are a lot of mutations, a lot of melding between mutations - between the former flowers and the scary hands that go around touching in places that they don't belong - and understand that stopping them from continuing on their way would take some real doing. The perversion continues so they may as well make it sound as pretty as possible. Big swatches of graded dirt - ready for progress, commerce and sub-divisions - will always look sad and people will probably believe that it should have been stopped - thinking that those were the days, whenever they were.

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