This is the first entry in a series that captures what songs have shaped me into the person I am today. This could be contributed to my taste musically or just shaped me as personality wise.
Where It All Began
It was the first or second day of junior year in high school. I was sitting in the main gym on the steep, tan, stow away bleachers awaiting my fate of what type of gym class I would be get to take part in. Do I be ballsy and aim for the class that goes on frequent field trips, risking my chances of the second or third choice or do I play it safe and head to the team sports line? Either way I’m not going to get stuck in ‘walking P.E.’ with the rejects of 16 and Pregnant and all the too good for gym class kids.
While I awaited the inevitable hell of racing towards the front half of the gym, I decided to pop in my tangled, nearly frayed and browned Apple earbuds and search for an album to listen to. I was scrolling through my recommended page on Apple Music (I was a fool at the time, forgive me Spotify) and came across LCD Soundsystem. I had never heard of them before, but the name was intriguing enough to catch my interest. I decided to choose This is Happening as the album of choice. What I didn’t realize is that the wi-fi at my school was such shit it wouldn’t let me play the album without downloading it first. By the time the first track was done downloading class was over. Didn’t even matter.
I walk past the stench of cannabis and fresh Axe body spray to get to the narrow, mustard yellow school bus, which had a weird black fade to it making it resemble a very old banana peel. The bus and banana peels are also alike because I don’t care much for what is inside of them.
I plop myself down on the patched up seat next to some kid who probably wanted no part of me and decided to give this song, Dance Yrself Clean, a try for the way home. I understand why it took so long to download the song, it was nearly nine minutes!! For me at the time I was unaccustomed to songs longer than five minutes. Reluctantly, yet curious I pressed play.
The first few minutes I thought my volume was broken because, well, Apple earbuds suck. Turns out they weren’t broken. I thought the song was pretty minimalist, but enjoyable. It wasn’t until the 3:06 part of the song that my world was flipped forever. The beat drop that opened my eyes to a whole new world of music. I got instant chills. Singer James Murphy screams:
“Don’t you want for me to wake up?
Then give me just a bit of your time
Arguments are made from make outs
So give it just a little more time”
That’s so stupid, but awesome!!
It took the whole ride home to finish the song, but it was the most memorable bus ride I ever had.
Why It’s So Great
LCD Soundsystem is no stranger to making deep cutting, relatable tracks that speak to people of all ages. Topics like aging and losing passion in what you’re doing now that you’re forced to do it. Dance Yrself Clean is all about relieving yourself of all the bullshit that’s around you, even if it is stuff that once made you who you are. It’s an emotional tune with one of the most passionate vocal performances that Murphy has ever produced. In an interview with NME, at the first breakdown of the song where he belts at a higher pitch he says that it wrecked his vocal chords. He even had to take steroids to prevent further pain recording the rest of the album.
Dance Yrself Clean of course speaks a lot of what my dad an I always call simple truths (moments where you’re like ‘huh yeah that’s sad, but kinda true’), but also with the instrumentation. In the buildup to the first breakdown another layer of sounds pile onto each following verse. Every time I listen to it I get the same level of excitement that most people have leading up to the guitar breakdown in the latter half of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s so emotionally prevalent and hard-hitting in all the right ways.
The Lasting Effect
Dance Yrslef Clean and This is Happening in general opened up this whole world of mid-2000’s indie music to my attention. I would discover groups like Arcade Fire, TV on the Radio, and Animal Collective to name a few. It also introduced me to the genre of dance-punk. One of my favorite groups in my high school years, Death From Above, fit this category perfectly and was in frequent rotation.
This also marked the point in my life where people were very judgmental of my music taste. My junior year history teacher was very fond of me and let me pick a Pandora station for the class to listen to while doing group work. I chose another song from LCD’s album, I Can Change. I received so much shit so fast. Collective ‘what is this?’, ‘can you pick something else?’, ‘Miss? Can I pick something else?’ spread like wildfire throughout the classroom. I probably just put on ‘Mr Brightside radio’ and that appeased the haters.
The summer following I was lucky enough to see LCD’s reunion tour at Lollapalooza and Dance Yrself Clean was the greatest moment in concert history in my eyes. It also was the day before I started the best job of my life. I have so many fond memories of LCD and that song. It is easily in my top ten all time favorites and wouldn’t put it anywhere else.
Remember, just because a whole classroom of 60 kids had a negative reaction to your song choice, doesn’t mean your song isn’t special. You don’t want those stupid teens to like it anyways. They’ll be jealous of your taste in a few years when they catch up to your maturity.