Music Friday: Robert Frost Poem Provides Inspiration for First Aid Kit's 'Stay Gold'

February 4, 2022

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring your great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, we present the hypnotic harmonies of First Aid Kit's Klara and Johanna Söderberg performing “Stay Gold,” a song that uses the precious metal as a metaphor for the vitality of youth — when the world is your oyster and anything is possible.

Klara Söderberg, who co-wrote the song with her sister, Johanna, told The Oregonian that “Stay Gold” was inspired by Robert Frost’s eight-line poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”

In that poem, which was originally published in 1923, Frost begins with these two lines, “Nature’s first green is gold / Her hardest hue to hold” and ends with these, “So dawn goes down to day / Nothing gold can stay.”

In “Stay Gold,” the Swedish sisters’ take on the Frost poem goes like this, “The sun shone high those few summer days / Left us in a soft, wide-eyed haze / It shone like gold / It shone like gold / But just as the moon it shines straight / So dawn goes down today / No gold can stay / No gold can stay.”

Essentially, the sisters are saying that a young person’s idyllic view of life — and likely their own — is often short-lived.

In the The Oregonian interview, Klara described how she encountered Frost's famous work.

“I had this collection of poetry, and I thought, ‘I’ll open this and see if there’s anything in here that inspires me,’ and I came upon the line ‘Nothing gold can stay.’ That was literally the first thing I saw, and it was perfect,” she said.

“Stay Gold” is the title song from First Aid Kit’s third studio album, which was released in June 2014 and peaked at #23 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. It won the Swedish Grammis award in 2014 for "Album of the Year," and was listed sixth in Paste magazine's list of the 40 best folk albums of the 2010s.

Despite the sisters’ humble beginnings as a MySpace/YouTube indie folk phenomenon in 2007-2008, First Aid Kit has amassed a body of work that includes four albums, four EPs and several singles. In 2015, and again in 2019, they were nominated for a Brit Award as one of the five best international groups.

Trivia: Klara wrote her first song, "Femton mil i min Barbiebil" (Fifteen miles in my Barbie car], when she was six.

Please check out the video of First Aid Kit’s performance of “Stay Gold.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Stay Gold”
Written by Klara and Johanna Söderberg. Performed by First Aid Kit.

The sun shone high those few summer days
Left us in a soft, wide-eyed haze
It shone like gold
It shone like gold

But just as the moon it shines straight
So dawn goes down today
No gold can stay
No gold can stay

What if our hard work ends in despair?
What if the road won’t take me there?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold

What if to love and be loved’s not enough?
What if I fall and can’t bear to get up?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold
We could stay gold

We’re on our way through rugged land
Top of that mountain we wanted to stand
With hearts of gold
With hearts of gold

But there is only forward, no other way
Tomorrow was your hope at the end of the day
And gold turns gray
And gold turns gray

What if our hard work ends in despair?
What if the road won’t take me there?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold

What if to love and be loved’s not enough?
What if I fall and can’t bear to get up?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold
We could stay gold

All of my dreams, they fall and form a bridge
Of memories where I can get back
All of my dreams, they fall and form a bridge
Of memories where I can’t get back to you

What if our hard work ends in despair?
What if the road won’t take me there?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold

What if to love and be loved’s not enough?
What if I fall and can’t bear to get up?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold
We could stay gold

Could stay gold
Stay gold

Credit: Photo by Christian Düringer, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.