Sarah Summer – “Play It Again, Sam! You Don’t Have Any Feathers” (Video)

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    Sarah Summer – “Play It Again, Sam! You Don’t Have Any Feathers” (Video)
    Published: May 7, 2023

    Arizona-based folk singer-songwriter (and former Charleston resident) Sarah Summer released a new single, “Play It Again, Sam! You Don’t Have Any Feathers” earlier this week, pairing the track with a music video slideshow of family photographs.

    The song is Summer’s take on the 2005 Manchester Orchestra track of the same name and possesses the biting acoustic melancholy of the original, but Summer’s soft vocals take it to a new level of tenderness.

    The photos in the music video are intimate, showing images of her parents as young adults and of her own childhood in moments of both joy and chaos.

    Summer explained what drew her toward covering this particular song:

    “When I was 17, I listened to this song on repeat. The cops came to our house a lot… In those sorts of instances, the first question asked is ‘Who called the cops?’  Whoever goes to jail holds that dialer guilty and it becomes their fault that shit got hard,” she said.

    “After a midnight visit from the law, the very next day, which happened to be my birthday, I was taking orders at the restaurant where I worked. In walks those same two first responders, on duty and in uniform.”

    “The shorter one, a woman, placed her order with me. My heart raced. I was in uniform too, disguised with my hair pulled back and my shirt tucked in. I swiped her credit card and we locked eyes. My polite disposition had yet to waver. She cocked her head and squinted with suspicion as I handed her a receipt.”

    ‘Aren’t you…’ 

    ‘Yes.’ I cut her off, burning with embarrassment. I was scared to death the conversation would open and someone behind the counter would overhear.

    ‘I thought that was you.’  She shifted from judgment to concern. 

    ‘You okay?’ She didn’t know how my evening had ended. 

    ‘Yeah.’ I spoke defeatedly. I could hardly wait for her to go away.”

    This memory makes Summer’s ascending vocals all the more affecting as she sings “You’ve been forgiven / Come back to me,” a line that feels eerily resonant against the backdrop of the photos. 

    Other lines, like “From a father / To his daughter” and “From a sinner / To his maker” further a sense of emotional reckoning.

    Summer avoids outright sentimentality in the project through the starkness with which she displays all of the images, from the most tumultuous events to the little moments of tedium. It’s an empathetic exploration of a family life marked simultaneously by turmoil and an abundance of love.

    Summer recently visited Charleston to record at The Space with Wolfgang Zimmerman and is working on building up her first full-length album.

    While this and other tracks are available on Spotify, you can find the full catalog of Summer’s work on Bandcamp.

    Watch the video for “Play It Again, Sam! You Don’t Have Any Feathers” below.

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