Music Saved My Life: LCD Soundsystem 'Sound of Silver'
Music is obviously a big part of us here at Distinction Music Management. In this poignant series, Music Saved My Life we dive into songs and albums that have lifted us up when we needed it the most. Exploring what it means to have music literally save you from the depths of hardships. Learn a little bit more about our fellow human and maybe reminiscence on some old favorite tunes.
LCD Soundsystem’s 2007 sophomore record, Sound of Silver, at least for me, was not an album that stuck right away. The first time I heard it, I was already intimately familiar with their 2010 record, This is Happening, and in contrast to the catchy hooks and tight songwriting of that record Sound of Silver sounded repetitive, messy, and honestly just a bit strange to my ears. I couldn’t wrap my head around the odd percussion and plucky synths of “Get innocuous!”, the seven minute album opener which takes over two minutes to build to lyrics, or the mercilessly repetitive piano riff that begins and sits underneath the entirety of “All My Friends.” The chant-like vocals of the titular track “Sound of Silver” struck me as nothing but goofy, and perhaps even a bit weird for the sake of being weird. Friends of mine who got me into LCD would constantly tell me that Sound of Silver was their best record, pleading with me to give it another chance, but I was stubborn. Repeat listens only served to further cement my opinions of the record in my mind. It had its fun moments, sure. “North American Scum” was catchy enough, and “New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down” was a nice and earnest closer, but I couldn’t understand anyone thinking it held a candle to This is Happening, an album that at the time seemed almost perfect to me.
Then I graduated from high school, and all of my friends left for college, spreading to the far corners of the country, some even going abroad to study, and I was left alone, adrift in my hometown that now felt completely empty and alien to me. I had decided to take some time off before going to college, whether out of laziness or some misguided planning I can’t remember, but for months I did nothing. I didn’t work, I didn’t go to school, I didn’t create. I simply languished. By this point I’d been listening to This is Happening for years. While I still loved it, it had begun to grow a bit stale for me, so I decided that I would try one last time to understand what the big deal about Sound of Silver was. I got through the first four tracks, feeling more or less the same degree of ambivalence I’d always felt towards the record, and then “All My Friends” came on. The frantic, frenzied piano riff, slowly building on itself, simultaneously mesmerizing and the musical representation of a panic attack, only the slightest hint of a melody. And then the drums begin to come in, a mix of live drums and snappy drum machine, struggling to find the right groove, giving way to a chirpy bass line sitting low in the mix which gives the track it’s first real taste of structure and musical direction. I was transfixed, the music encapsulated perfectly all of the things that I was feeling: directionless, scared, anxious. And then the lyrics began.
“All my Friends” is a song about getting older. More specifically it’s a song about feeling like you’re aging faster than you can get a grip on, feeling wildly and overwhelmingly out of control of the time ceaselessly slipping through your fingers, losing touch with friends and loved ones, coming to terms with the loss that comes from growing up and having to change. Even typing this out now it’s difficult for me to fully put into words all of the feelings that this song evokes for me, but no piece of art, musical or otherwise, has ever met me exactly where I was in such a specific, profound, and devastating way. I was heartbroken. It was the first time I’d really been able to bring into focus the way I’d been feeling, and it was almost more than I could handle.
At the end of the track, James Murphy, the vocalist and primary creative force behind LCD Soundsystem, sings again and again, “where are your friends tonight?” and, “if I could see all my friends tonight,” and I remember I had to turn it off, it was too much, and I sobbed like I hadn’t ever before, alone in my room, feeling like if I could just get back to the way things were, if I could just see all my friends again, everything would be alright. Murphy had allowed me to finally admit to myself how I was feeling, and after letting myself cry for as long as I needed to I listened to the song again, and then I listened to the album again, and then again and again and again. The whole album made sense to me now. It was all I listened to for months. I was enthralled. I was in love. For over a year, not a single night passed where I didn’t listen to “All My Friends” before falling asleep. It was my lullaby. And eventually it gave me the strength I needed to move on, to go to college and make new friends, to come to grips and make peace with growing up. I don’t know where I’d be now without Sound of Silver but to this day it’s my favorite record, and I’m not sure how I would’ve gotten through that time and many times since without it.
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