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Friday, November 18, 2005

(Always) Rediscovering Daydream Nation

Ever since I first read about Sonic Youth's album Sister back in 1987, I've loved this band despite never having heard them. Granted, I never could find Sister at any of the record stores (either of them) in Newport, RI, but I knew they were my favorite band.

I finally heard them a year later when their follow-up, Daydream Nation, arrived. I had moved to Austin by then and was able to locate what would become my favorite album ever. Period.

I've tried to explain to many people for many years why I love this noisy, spacey album so much, why it's my desert island disc. But then love of a particular work of art is a lot like loving a person: you just can't always explain it.

I suppose when I heard it, it was so at odds with everything else that was floating around out there, so unexpected, and so stimulating that I couldn't stop listening to it. Literally. I think I listened to "Teenage Riot" five times before letting the tape (yes, a tape) advance to "Silver Rocket," which was the track that sealed the deal. I still love the way the song descends into that insane pit of boiling feedback and white noise to finally be rescued by a drum roll that rises out of nowhere, growing louder and louder, organizing the chaos back into music and then, suddenly, the band is back, tight as ever, from wherever they had gone. Amazing.

I never tire of listening to the intro and outro to "'Cross the Breeze" and Kim Gordon's lyric:
I took a look into the hate,
It made me feel very up to date
Or Lee in "Hey Joni":
She's a beautiful metal jukebox,
A sailboat explosion,
The snap of electric whipcrack
So cool. So hip. So unlike anything I'd ever heard before. This is one of the few, if not the only, bands from my high school years that I still follow, and Daydream Nation is why. In 1989, it seemed like everything that was worth knowing about popular music had been distilled, destroyed, and rebuilt in this album that still sounds like a punk rock Dark Side of the Moon.

Sparking this post, I ran across two exciting treats in store (or should I say in stores soon):
  • Continuum will be publishing a 33 1/3 Series book about Daydream Nation

  • Billboard has this (discovered by way of Kofi's hat) which mentions that the band is looking into doing an expanded release of Daydream Nation as they did with Goo and Dirty. It also mentions several other releases to look forward to in the meantime.
I finally found Sister in 1994 when it was re-released on CD by Geffen. It was as good as I knew it would be and inspired an interest (obsession and grad school project) in Philip K. Dick's writing, but alas, that is a post for another day.

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