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October 24, 2013 2:06 PM   Subscribe

The double album Daydream Nation, by Sonic Youth, turns 25 this month. The first single from the album, Teen Age Riot, "was about appointing J Mascis as our de facto alternative dream president". Other songs were about author William Gibson's "cyberpunk" literary concepts ("The Sprawl", or (maybe) about Joni Mitchell ("Hey Joni"). The album has been reissued previously in 2007, and today on facebook, the band announced " the original 2xlp and cd will be back in print in early 2014 along with more early sonic youth lps + cds".
posted by Cookiebastard (42 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
saved my life in its way, November-December 1988, which suddenly reminds me of where I was almost twenty-five years ago. Indeed there was one two or three week period where I'm pretty sure all I did was lie on the floor and listen to Daydream Nation, beginning to end, all one epic sweep of music + noise indivisible.
posted by philip-random at 2:11 PM on October 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


God, Teen Age Riot is a beautiful fucking thing. Seeing them play it live at the Minnesota State Fair was one of the great this-is-really-weird-and-really-awesome moments of my musical life.
posted by COBRA! at 2:25 PM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Daydream Nation was the gateway drug for me to a lot of things that deviate much more wildly from what people typically consider to be music, but I'll never feel like I've outgrown it. It's one of those works that comes as close to being perfectly assembled as any piece of art needs to be.
posted by invitapriore at 2:26 PM on October 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's 1990, give or take I don't remember, and Sonic Youth is opening for Neil Young and Crazy Horse at the late and unlamented Omni in Atlanta.

Our seats are waaaaaaay up in the nosebleed section. Any higher and we'd need supplemental oxygen. We arrived late and missed the first band, Social Distortion. I still regret that. Anyway, Sonic Youth comes on and starts ripping into songs from Daydream Nation.

It was like a bomb went off. People literally fled their seats. I suspect that a substantial portion of the crowd were Harvest/After The Gold Rush Neil Young fans and hadn't reckoned on what the three words "and Crazy Horse" implied about the volume of the evening ahead.

Sonic Youth begins grinding through "Eric's Trip" and Thurston Moore is doing things to a detuned guitar that're probably illegal in less enlightened countries. The song ebbs and flows, crescendos and lulls, and it goes on for fucking ever. During quiet moments, people start trickling back into their seats, and the band responds by blasting them with walls of feedback.

I have never seen an audience hate a band so hard, and a band take such perverse pleasure in torturing them for it. Sonic Youth must've performed four fake encores. By the time they ceded the stage (to an even louder Crazy Horse), I swear there were people on the concourses weeping in despair, wondering if they'd ever be able to return to their seats.

It was brilliant, a concert memory I'll take to the grave.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:28 PM on October 24, 2013 [34 favorites]


although I have to admit that of the times I've had the album on while awake I've probably only ever let "Providence" play all the way through maybe 3x
posted by invitapriore at 2:28 PM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Thurston! Watt! Thurston! I think it's ten thirty, we're calling from Providence, Rhode Island. Did you find your shit? You gotta watch the mota Thurston, your fuckin' memory just goes out the window. We couldn't find it in the van at all, we wonderin' if you looked in that trash can. When we threw out that trash, man, was the bag in your hand, did you dump it? Call later. Bye."
posted by porn in the woods at 2:30 PM on October 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah despite my previous comment I have the intonation of those words burned so deeply into my mind that the man's voice is basically playing back perfectly in my head right now while I read your comment, porn in the woods.
posted by invitapriore at 2:31 PM on October 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


BitterOldPunk --

I caught that tour in Vancouver and it was pretty much exactly the same situation. God I loved the hate that night. Epic cultural warfare ... and the good guys won.
posted by philip-random at 2:31 PM on October 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


I didn't get into SY until fairly late (around Thousand Leaves), but had gotten most of their back catalog prior to seeing them my first time on the Murray Street tour. So, I went to quite a few shows where 2/3 of the set list would be their current album, with the rest being a few oldies mixed in. Understandable, but I was always hoping to hear stuff off Daydream live, other than Eric's Trip. Luckily, I got to go to one of the Daydream anniversary shows where they played the whole album - there were some songs that they didn't play much even when they were touring for it, so being able to see that was a real treat.
posted by LionIndex at 2:32 PM on October 24, 2013


Crazy Horse + ole Neil weren't bad either.
posted by philip-random at 2:32 PM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Realistically it would never fit on Daydream Nation, but in my perfect universe "In the Kingdom #19" is on that album and it works somehow and it's just the best ever.
posted by invitapriore at 2:35 PM on October 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Played it on my show on WRBC, Lewiston, Maine every week for like two years. Especially "Candle." And "Silver Rocket."

And pretty much everything.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:36 PM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Although I was a Sonic Youth fan from the early 90s (Thanks, Kurt!), I didn't get a chance to see them live until 2001. Holy crap, talk about total mastery of their instruments. It was completely breathtaking.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:52 PM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hard to believe it's been 25 years. On days when the nostalgia demons fly a little too close, I think "Hey Joni" is the greatest song ever, maybe even greater now that I'm on the edge of middle age.

Hey Joni put it all behind you
Hey Joni now I've put it all behind me too
These times can't add up
Yr life is such a mess
Forget the past, and just say yes
...
In this broken town can you still jack in
And know what to do?


Very different at 40 than it was at 20.
posted by honestcoyote at 2:53 PM on October 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, and if any of you kids want to know what being a high schooler in the early 90s was like, watch this. That's everything you need to know.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:53 PM on October 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


all one epic sweep of music + noise indivisible.

Found it ...

If you're only going to have one album, it may as well be four sides of music and noise inseparable, reminding you that the biggest truths have no boundaries, the most important stories never quite add up, the best songs never quite hold together, always yearning for, grasping for, gunning for MORE ... and are thus defined as much by the chaos at their edges as the order at their centres (or is the other way around?) The trilogy from Side Four gets the nod here (The Wonder, Hyperstation and Eliminator Jr.) because it's the highpoint of the album (not that there's any real low points). Guy wanders the sprawl, gets high by the sounds of things, likely something lysergic because he's truly seeing the wonder in things ... but then comes the long slow comedown. He runs into some jocks, gets his shit kicked. But he makes it home, barely. And there's his girl waiting, his angel, his saviour. She fucks his brains, his soul, his bones to heaven and beyond, like a god damned top alcohol dragster tearing up the quarter mile, fumes so intense they cause a rare local breed of starling to go extinct. The Lord works in strange ways and all that. The daydream that never ends.
posted by philip-random at 2:53 PM on October 24, 2013


I didn't even hear it until 1990 or so. I'd been playing Sister (still my favorite) over an over for so long I didn't care that they had a newer album out.
posted by Cookiebastard at 3:27 PM on October 24, 2013


> I have the intonation of those words burned so deeply into my mind that the man's voice is basically playing back perfectly in my head right now

It's Mike Watt, I think.

This album is such a gateway drug, in a way... if the underground music scene was intriguing but forbidding to you, Daydream Nation was the crypto key that helps you make sense of the no-shit good stuff that was going on in Seattle and Tacoma and Chicago and Detroit and New York and Osaka...

Fun fact: Kim Gordon is older than the President of the United States. Rock on.
posted by ardgedee at 3:30 PM on October 24, 2013


FYI. They typically don't play Eric's Trip live anymore because the extremely customized guitar called the Conn Drifter that Thurston used was stolen in July 1999 along with 95% of the gear they had collected.

I have been following Sonic's guitar mystery since it happened in July 1999.

They have recovered a few of the guitars but some were irreplaceable. One of their guitar techs tried to recreate the Drifter, allowing them to play Eric's Trip, but Thurston has stated it's just not the same.

Anyway, this album pretty much shaped my high school years. I listened to it 1000 times, and know every note. It is hauntingly beautiful and chaotic.
posted by Benway at 3:40 PM on October 24, 2013


FYI. They typically don't play Eric's Trip live anymore because the extremely customized guitar called the Conn Drifter that Thurston used was stolen in July 1999 along with 95% of the gear they had collected.

One of their guitar techs tried to recreate the Drifter, allowing them to play Eric's Trip, but Thurston has stated it's just not the same.


You're right about the gear being stolen and all that, but I didn't first see them until after that point, and they played Eric's Trip regularly in the early 2000s. I think not counting the Daydream Nation show, I've seen them 5 times or so, and Eric's Trip was on the set list for at least 4 of those shows.
posted by LionIndex at 4:05 PM on October 24, 2013


This is an album that makes me love CDs. I just can't imagine having it stop, and having to go flip the record over half-way through.
posted by Jimbob at 4:11 PM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyway, stolen guitar list and photos here. Things to know how to do once you're jacked in here.
posted by LionIndex at 4:13 PM on October 24, 2013


I must be doing something wrong. I have tried with the best of intentions to enjoy Sonic Youth in general, and Daydream Nation in particular, and they just leave me cold.
posted by hwestiii at 5:20 PM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thurston! Watt! Thurston!

I got to interview Mike Watt a couple of years ago for a documentary I directed. It was a completely outstanding experience. The man is a saint. Anyway, the last thing I asked him was, "Did Thurston ever find his shit?"

He just laughed.
posted by vibrotronica at 5:32 PM on October 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Teenage Riot is just an amazing song. Every time I hear it I come out feeling there is nothing that I cannot do, that the world is there to explore and it's going to be good. 25 years and nothing comes close to it for me.
posted by N-stoff at 5:55 PM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


My "Daydream Nation" CD (Enigma/Blast First 7 75403-2) ...

1) Is one CD, not two. Is it abridged?

2) Had an incense / patchouli smell for years. Has anyone else experienced this?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:56 PM on October 24, 2013


This is an album that makes me love CDs. I just can't imagine having it stop, and having to go flip the record over half-way through.

But flipping the record means you're really listening!

Also, this was a double LP. So you had to flip the record, then change the record, then flip it again. Hardcore. (Of course what you did back in the day was you recorded the thing to a C-90 and then listened to it in the car until the tape got wobbly and you knew it by rote.)
posted by Mothlight at 6:46 PM on October 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I came to Sonic Youth through Goo when I was in high school in the late 80s. I remember listening to it and thinking "what's the big deal?" It was an ok album but didn't hold a candle to the Pixies or Dinosaur. On a lark I picked up Daydream Nation because I read something somewhere that led me to believe that owning a copy would increase my punk rock cred. I would go on these album buying jags where I'd pick up 3 or 4 cassettes at a time and I think Daydream Nation sat for a week or so without me even taking it out of the plastic.

The first time I listened to the album I didn't get beyond Teenage Riot. I was absolutely blown away and listened to the song over and over again. The song gave me chills. I had never heard anything like it before and it truly moved me. I had to force myself to listen to the rest of the album which is pretty amazing but that one song is just perfect. And now it's 20+ years later and I'm listening to it right now as I type this and it's still perfect.
posted by photoslob at 7:01 PM on October 24, 2013


One of my great regrets in life is missing that Neil Young tour, and I fully support Sonic Youth getting in the face of a bunch of old CSNY fans, but it's interesting to think about that kind of enforced listening hour in the context of some comments Thurston Moore made in Spin magazine in 1990. (Interview by Jim Greer.)
Do you really think the 14-year-old kid who worships Bon Jovi or Guns N' Roses is going to appreciate your music?

THURSTON: You know, nothing's impossible. But to them we might be a little too weird. There're certain aspects of our sound that for the most part will sound really bad to them. When we went to Russia last year, a lot of people thought we were just doing it wrong, because their only guidelines were the Beatles and Iron Maiden. So these suburban kids who listen to Jovi and G N' R for the most part—they don't know any better, they're not musically inclined. It's more a social thing for them.

To me, our music is elitist, in a way. We're tied in with this elitist aesthetic. The only way to overcome it is not to think about it, but you're instantly tied into it because you come out of it. Just the fact that each of us was one of those kids who would say, "Fuck Led Zep, let's drive into the city and see a Ramones gig." And the next day in high school you'd tell somebody that and they'd think you were a total alien. I was one of maybe three people in my high school who knew about Patti Smith and the Ramones.

I don't want to subject anybody against their will to something that's outside their sensibility. Why should Geffen force-feed anything down anybody's throat? Guns N' Roses are easy because it's a path that's already been paved by all the lame rock classics. But us, who are they going to feed it to?

Won't they feed it into the usual channels and see what happens?

That's the most interesting thing to us. The housewife who's thirty-something in Middle America and buys one cassette a month—probably even bought the G N' R one because it was played a lot and she liked that one song—she's definitely not going to buy our record. And if she does, she's going to be subjected to something that's most likely going to disturb her. And I don't really want to disturb anybody. I don't want to be forced on anybody.
I only have this article because I tore it out of the magazine and slid it into my vinyl copy of Daydream Nation many years ago. And I had forgotten Daydream Nation comes with a poster! Not a great poster, but a poster nonetheless. Don't try that with a CD.
posted by Mothlight at 7:12 PM on October 24, 2013


Thurston Moore bummed a smoke off of me at a Dinosaur Jr show (feat. Tar Babies) in the basement of Barnard Hall.

Back then you could smoke indoors. At rock shows. Like, just light up and enjoy your tobacco stick, without anyone getting all up in your face.

They'd just silently acquiesce as you slowly killed them. It was pretty cool.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:43 PM on October 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Weirdly, when I saw them play Daydream Nation a few years back for that nostalgia tour they did, they played in the theater of my alma mater, Berkeley High, which I was attending at roughly the time that the album was released.
posted by whir at 8:37 PM on October 24, 2013


i remember this small, slow, english reworking of teenage riot that made me cry, but my desktop has been dead for a year, and i haven`t quite figured out who did it. i want to hear it again.

oh, yes, teenage riot, the oringial killed me. it literally forced me to get out of bed.
posted by PinkMoose at 8:42 PM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thurston Moore bummed a smoke off of me at a Dinosaur Jr show (feat. Tar Babies) in the basement of Barnard Hall.

I was walking through Reykjavík this June, on the way to the bus to ATP Iceland; when I passed a second-hand record shop, this middle-aged American guy with long hair and a battered-looking army coat with words written on it in felt-tip marker approached me and asked me if I was going to ATP and if he and his female companion could come with me. He mentioned that he was in a band who were playing, named Chelsea Light Moving.

And that was how I ended up walking to the bus stop with Thurston Moore.
posted by acb at 4:23 AM on October 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


An album that is never out of my top 5… Teenage Riot, Cross The Breeze, Hey Joni… just incredible.

I got to see them perform the entirety of Daydream Nation at The Roundhouse in London back in 2007. It was one of the greatest gig experiences of my life so far.

Some photos of that night.
posted by garrett at 5:10 AM on October 25, 2013


Apparently some of them are really keeping busy.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:01 AM on October 25, 2013


I got to see them perform the entirety of Daydream Nation at The Roundhouse in London back in 2007.

They did the same thing at the City Hall space in Nashville that same year. It blew my mind.

That venue was turned into a bunch of boutique shops and restaurants. My concert T-shirt, however, is still going strong after who knows how many washes.
posted by pianoblack at 8:54 AM on October 25, 2013


FYI. They typically don't play Eric's Trip live anymore

They aren't even together any longer, I thought. Or did I miss some big reconciliation between Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore ?
posted by Dr-Baa at 9:10 AM on October 25, 2013


I got to see them perform the entirety of Daydream Nation at

I saw them any number of times between 1987 and whenever they played Lollapalooza (1994?), but for whatever reason, missed them at Daydream Nation. Maybe they just never came to town (Vancouver) on that tour. Except I'm pretty damned sure they played a bunch of it as work-in-progress in that 1987 show -- October 4 according to the interwebs. It was a Sunday night which is never a good thing for a rock show, everybody too spent from the weekend's indulgences, worried about the coming week etc. And I didn't even really know Sonic Youth yet. What I'd heard on record had seemed interesting and all but I was way more interested in stuff like Husker Du, Einsturzende Neubauten, the Swans.

So when they hit the stage, I wasn't expecting much. But holy shit, the first song ripped my head off. Was it Teenage Riot? Maybe. And then one blast of white light after another, guitars doing what I'd never dreamed guitars could do. Definitely more pieces of Daydream Nation ... I think. And then suddenly it was over, the evening had started late and Sunday shows had strict curfews in those days.

But I was hooked.
posted by philip-random at 9:10 AM on October 25, 2013


Mothlight: "I was one of maybe three people in my high school who knew about Patti Smith and the Ramones."

Man, the notion of the Ramones especially as being an obscure in-group shibboleth still kind of blows my mind. There's a great portrait of exactly that dynamic in Jonathan Lethem's Fortress of Solitude, and now I kind of want to re-read those sections with Thurston Moore in mind.
posted by invitapriore at 10:07 AM on October 25, 2013


Man, the notion of the Ramones especially as being an obscure in-group shibboleth still kind of blows my mind.

I wonder what proportion of Ramones T-shirt wearers know who the Ramones were, and what percentage have heard any of their music.
posted by acb at 10:30 AM on October 25, 2013


everybody's heard Blitzkrieg Bop ... but then it quickly thins out, I suspect.
posted by philip-random at 12:48 AM on October 26, 2013


Somehow I missed that they did a tour of this album, and was pretty okay not knowing I missed the tour. Reading metafilter can be devastating sometimes. Love this album to pieces. I often use it as long car ride music, but companions can get sick of it before the end, which is entirely their fault.
posted by lownote at 4:05 PM on October 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


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