We learned in class that pastoral literature is not restricted to only a rural landscape, but can also be seen in literature describing the urban lifestyle and how it helped shape the character. Specific themes in conventional pastoral literature many times include a feeling of nostalgia. The author portrays the simplified beauty of the environment, giving it a life-like quality. This can be applied to an urban setting in a similar way. Urban pastoralists can in turn construct a setting that shows off a few of the beautiful, unique aspects of the city. The artist's persona appreciates the rich culture of the city. A perfect example of an urban pastoral is " An Open Letter to NYC" by the Beastie Boys, in which they admire and are proud of the diversity that exists within the city. The city becomes a character that the Beastie Boys describe as resilient and welcoming. They reminisce their upbringing in the city as well as describe significant events that have occurred to them, adding to the intimate nature of the song. Despite its chaotic nature, the song helps establish the city under a unifying theme of diversity and acceptance, that adds to its classification as an "urban pastoral".
The major theme of this song is unity (how the city is chaotic at times, yet cohesive enough to be labelled "diverse"). The chorus itself helps to establish this diversity:
"Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten,
From the Battery to the top of Manhattan,
Asian, Middle-Eastern and Latin,
Black, White, New York you make it happen"
The Beastie Boys acknowledge the fact that a variety of cultures and ethnicities help form the New York "culture". The diversity described in the song also helps explain its pastoral nature. After gaining notoriety across the globe, they still value and appreciate the melting pot of cultures that is New York City. Another thing I picked up on in the song is that they describe all of these problems within the city, yet at the end of each verse, they thank the city for being strong and withstanding all of these internal issues. The city is personified in the song: the Beastie Boys make it known that the same melting pot that makes the city diverse also causes the city many problems, yet the city continues to be accepting and does not discriminate. It is almost like the city is a very generous character that is plagued by its own creation (the problems stemming from the diversity within) yet resists being any other way. The third verse portrays this beautifully:
"I see that you're still strong after all that's gone on,
life long we dedicate this song,
Just a little something to show more respect,
to the city that blends and mends and tests"
The city continues to allow for culture assimilation and tests the general public to see if we can "handle" it, and although our history has not proven that we can, the Beastie Boys are proud to live in a city that contains such diversity, regardless of the problems that stem from it. This all fits in with the songs pastoral classification because the Beastie Boys ultimately are thankful for the acceptance that their city has instilled in them. They have simplified the true nature of the city, glorified and personified it, and have described it as prestigious and resilient. The city is something the characters in the song truly respect.