The music video for Steve Gunn’s “Vagabond” opens with the sound of a guitar case being opened, a very apt visual and audio cue for the song, a transformative folk psych narrative on wandering, wondering, and wanderers. Gunn took inspiration for“Vagabond” from the great Agnes Varda’s film by the same title. The Unseen In Between, (the record that “Vagabond is taken from) was released in January of last year, a week before my birthday, a month or so after getting married and a few weeks into moving back to Southern California after years of living in Brooklyn. It was an interesting and difficult time. I was just getting my footing, I remember having to send in a piece of paper to the county department that said, “I, Alexandra Martinez, declare under penalty of perjury that I am unemployed and have no source of income,” — a small humiliation to endure to get enough money to feed my husband and I.
During this time, and the months after, “Vagabond” was a constant both in my mind and headphones. Gunn’s songs are so good at coming across as a simple song you’ve probably heard a million times before, but if you pay attention to the in betweens you hear the poeticness of it all. Even now, a little over a year later, and in a much better place than when I first heard “Vagabond” I still find refuge in how it layers simple guitar picking with a more psychedelic guitar while Gunn and Meg Baird’s vocals share space to tell the story of a woman vagabond. I moved back to California mostly out of homesickness but also out of necessity. My mother is ill and needs me. I’m able to live my life, but knowing there is someone depending on me on a daily basis has definitely forced me to change, and to make a lot of future decisions based on this. “Vagabond” is a reminder to make time for myself, and the creative pursuits I was able to do with more ease when I was still more of a vagabond — to “keep a hold on to [my] strangeness” and “move along.”
(Song recommendation by Alexandra Martinez)