ANTHEM, Book 3 of the Sixties Trilogy, publishes on October 1. Each of the book’s 47 chapters begins with a song from the Sixties to set the tone, mood, and scene. Every day between now and October 1, come have a listen and read a snippet from each chapter. On October 1, these posts will be archived with a link at ANTHEM’s webpage for #teachingAnthem1969
This is Chapter 46 (day 2):
Written by Robert Lamm
Performed by Chicago Transit Authority
Recorded at Columbia Recording Studios, NY, NY 1969
Drummer: Danny Seraphine
Cars rolled past them on the quiet street. The morning was bright and cool. The fog was burning off. It would be a good day for a journey.
“Music is the rhythm of our humanity,” said Eddie. “It’s the soundtrack of struggle and peace, birth and death, love and war, joy and pain. Music is the heart you open and the family you choose.”
When I hear “Beginnings” now, I think of the many 2am mornings I sat here trying to finish ANTHEM, trying to get this chapter right, trying to sum up the themes, characters, plot lines, symbolism, you name it… trying to get it right. Trying to touch what I’d wanted to say about 1969, and about the Sixties Trilogy as a whole… about the Sixties, about my own young life in those years, and about the nation as it struggled through those days.
“Beginnings” is what came to me. “Only the beginning/ only just the start.” Exactly. That was where to end, at the beginning, as storytellers know, as life shows us, too. Each ending is a new beginning.
As Molly and Norman come to the end of their journey — the beginning of the next trip — they gain a new rider for the miles home, along with a new understanding of who they are, what they mean to each other, and how they want to think about the world they are inheriting.
I wanted to include Chicago in ANTHEM, with their brassy, jazzy, upbeat sound… they were just getting started on their own journey in 1969, and bands everywhere would soon want to include horns in their line-up, including my husband’s… he was the self-proclaimed band geek who played the sousaphone in the St. Andrew’s Parish High School marching band in Charleston, South Carolina, and the trombone in concert band, and he was my inspiration for Norman. No wonder I love Norman so. I used to go to Friday night football games just so I could watch Jim in the band.
We have one ANTHEM chapter left, a very short one, and I’ll blog about it tomorrow… then it’s pub date for ANTHEM, and I’ll catalog all these song/chapter posts at the ANTHEM webpage.
If you are local to Atlanta, you might come on Tuesday night, October 1, to ANTHEM’s book launch, hosted by the Georgia Center for the Book and DeKalb County libraries, 7pm, at the Decatur Library at 215 Sycamore St., Decatur. I’ll be there and would love to see you.
All three Sixties titles will be available to purchase, thanks to bookseller Little Shop of Stories, and of course they will be at your local library as well.
The Sixties Trilogy turned into an 11-year project with Scholastic Press… what a risk they took, to being these documentary novels to readers young and old, everywhere. I’m grateful to them for their support, and for three gorgeously beautiful books. Phil Falco’s design wizardry and David Levithan’s editing skills created something special out of the stories I wanted so much to tell.
The end of the Sixties Trilogy gives us a new beginning as well… Kent State will be published in April, 2020… more about that book soon. Meanwhile: