How to Listen to Micah Ling’s “Kingdom Come”
Micah Ling is a folk-song singer, songwriter, and cellist based in Lansing, Michigan. Her new album Kingdom Come is for listening to while going on a tour of West Michigan’s covered bridges at sunrise.
Begin by waking up at 6 a.m. on a fall morning, in spite of the fact that it is a Saturday and weekends are for sleeping in. Sleep for five extra minutes, because they will make all the difference.
Wake up ten minutes later to your partner’s gentle elbow nudge and realize that if those extra minutes made any difference at all, it was for the worse.
Dress in warm clothes, feed the cat, and get out the door. Put Micah Ling’s Kingdom Come into the CD player and start driving. Sunrises don’t wait for you.
The warm lilting cello at the opening of “Slane” is an ideal soundtrack the horizon as it just begins to glow. Its melody gently energizes you. It is the perfect song to start this adventure, and the perfect song to start the record.
You will start to feel more awake by the time “Little Pink” starts playing. The aggressive cello and its foot percussion accompaniment shove you into a time machine and send you straight back to a nineteenth century tavern.
Come here, Little Pink
Tell me what do you think, Lord, Lord
Yeah. That’s just the kind of matter-of-fact give-me-what-I-want determination you need. You are ready to make the most of this covered bridge tour for which you sacrificed hours of precious sleep.
After driving down a number of winding two-lane roads, arrive at the Fallasburg Covered Bridge, your destination.
Approach the front of the bridge to the instrumental “A Lover of Mild Behavior.” It will make you feel like a pioneer exploring new country. Right now, you are a pioneer.
After taking in the bridge’s exterior, as well as the slightly vibe-killing sign just above the entrance that says “$5 dollar fine for driving or riding faster than a walk,” cross the bridge. You will be surprised by how sturdy it feels. The way the walls mute the outside noise will make you feel separated from the world around you.
Spend time admiring the view from the other side of the bridge. Then, be seduced by the halo of red-orange maples and browning oaks that frames the entrance to the Fallasburg Historical Village.
Walk in the middle of the narrow two-lane road past the tiny historical homes, which have signs in their front yards indicating who they housed around the time of the village’s foundation. They appear to be occupied now, but by people who know that weekends are for sleeping in.
Enter the yard of Miller and Village Founder John Fallass’s historical home. The white two-story is large, but simple. After hesitantly ascertaining that this historical home is not occupied, walk into the side yard and try to peek inside the windows. Imagine Fallass and his wife Phoebe living there modestly with their children. Now would be a good time to play Ling’s rendition of “Peg & Awl,” which yearns for a time when hard work was done by hand and laments the growth of industry. Right now, this sentiment will feel close to you. You will be inclined to agree with it.
They’ve invented a new machine, I peg one shoe, it pegs fifteen
I’m going to lay me down my awl my peg and awl
Notice the peculiar stillness of the early morning here. Feel as though crossing the bridge really is, as the village’s website proclaims in a corny script typeface, like crossing over a century into the past.
Ling’s music abides by its tradition in most ways. It is acoustic and raw. The percussion is often just the light brushing and clicking of shoes. Both her arrangements and her original songs stay true to the essence of traditional folk—there’s nothing here that couldn’t have been arranged 150 or more years ago. Except that Ling didn’t exist 150 or more years ago, and her stamp is part of what helps reveal the timelessness of notions described in many of these songs.
When you return to the bridge, notice that you’ve been joined by a man wearing a windbreaker straight out of the nineties. He will say he is fishing in the river to “kill time before doing some volunteer work on the trail.” Exchange pleasantries about the beautiful morning. His attitude and his contribution to the idyllic scene will remind you of the poetry of Wordsworth, Whitman, and Thoreau, whose earthly fixations are not restricted to their epoch either.
Get back in the car to the triumphant “Kingdom Come.” On your way to the next covered bridge, purposely take the long way. Drive down winding roads past acres of farmland, stopping only to take pictures of grazing horses and cows and foggy hills. Revel in your momentary detachment from modernity.