Friday, October 23, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #44: All My Friends by LCD Soundsystem

Nobody listens to dance songs for the lyrics.  That constant is well understood by all parties involved at this point.  You're not to find anyone quoting The Rapture for high school yearbook quotes and no couples ever look back on a Daft Punk track as being "their song."  In 1998 Madonna recruited William Orbit to produce an album that would add an emotional component to electronic music, under the misguided notion that people for some reason wanted to hear electronica fused with more feeling.  This of course is a ridiculous concept, and even if it were true, it seems dubious to think that anyone would expect Madonna of all people to bring some type of emotional authenticity.

James Murphy's lyrical output as LCD Soundsystem mostly involves partying.  Tales of clubgoers out on the town or at house parties.  They take drugs.  They listen to music.  They make bad decisions.  Rinse.  Repeat.  It doesn't matter that most of the stories are the same because the lyrics don't matter.  Except when he throws a curve ball.

That's how it starts
We go back to your house
We check the charts
And start to figure it out

The piano is a bit off and continually looped with standard-issue drum and bass.  It's a by-the-numbers offering until Murphy takes the persona of the aging party-goer, wondering what any of it means.  Are these people that he's hanging out with just people at the party, or are they actual friends?  And if they are friends, why is it they're only able to hang at parties?

You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan
And the next five years trying to be with your friends again

This is not an an earth-shattering realization.  It's a pretty universal concept for anyone to wonder as they age, "Am I still actually friends with these people, even when this no longer becomes my scene?  And if this is no longer my scene, am I now living a lie, or was I at the time?"  Still it's disarming to hear these questions laid bare within the framework of a song meant to be played those same events that conjure the question in the first place.

Though when we're running out of the drugs
And the conversation's winding away
I wouldn't trade one stupid decision
For another five years of lies

Murphy doesn't really come up with an answer, but it's interesting that the mood of the song ebbs and flows despite the music itself never changing.  In the one-shot video.  Murphy starts off looking tired and ridiculous.  His painted face was probably a funny story at the time of the action, but seeing him unkempt and in a suit lets you know that things haven't turned out as he planned.  Yet despite the mistake of the past and uncertainty of the future, he stares unflinchingly ahead, prepared for whatever hazards await.

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