Saturday, August 15, 2015

LCD Soundsystem - "All My Friends" (the song remains the same)

I've been meaning to write about LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends" (from their 2007 LP "Sound of Silver") for a couple of years now, but this week's unexpected passing of long-time friend Fred Moore has finally moved me to write about this song.

I was late in discovering LCD Soundsystem, only finding out about them from the Colbert Report in 2011, right before James Murphy ended the band.  I got several of their LPs shortly after that, and immediately fell in love with them.  James Murphy is about my age and his aesthetics and influences deeply resonate with mine. But it wasn't until I was listening to their LPs at the beach a couple years later before the impact and meaning of "All My Friends" really hit me.  A quick google searched proved that I was not alone in my assessment, with the first page containing articles such as "The Melancholy Greatness of `All My Friends'" and "Deconstructing: LCD Soundsystem’s 'All My Friends' And Trying To Define The Best Song Of The Millennium".  Both articles are eloquent perspectives which I won't try to expand on, but only to say that you would be hard pressed to come up with a better soundtrack for a bunch middle-age guys getting together for the weekend ("All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)" is a less nuanced and more literal 2nd place entry). 

My friend Drew got married in the summer of 2012, and most of the high-school & college friends had dispersed up and down the east coast.  Richmond VA was central for most of the people, so we gathered there for an impromptu bachelor party for him.  We had such a good time that we decided to make it an annual occurrence, with our fourth event occurring last July.  For one weekend a year we could run around the city, pretend we're still 22, and try to stay out until last call at 2am (not everyone made it).  I had stayed close with both Drew and Terry, but the wedding and then these annual events was a good way to reconnect with other friends that I had mostly lost contact with.

Any story about high-school & college mischief would inevitably feature Fred Moore as a central figure.  I won't even try to recount the numerous stories, other than to say no one was surprised when Fred was the first member of Tone Deaf (the high-school band for which he was lead vocals) to spend the night in jail (IIRC, drunk in public while he was at Va Tech).  Either despite or because of his wild years, Fred eventually became a well-respected and much-loved Major in the Virginia National Guard, husband, and father of two.  He did tours in Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  His passing was a shock to all, but I'm glad I was able to hang out with him again over the last four years.

Back to the song: it is amazing enough by itself, but I have much respect for LCD Soundsystem releasing two versions of the single: one featuring a cover of the song by John Cale and the other featuring a cover of the song by Franz Ferdinand, each one competing with each other and the original as to who can incorporate the most Ian Curtis / Joy Division influences.   I don't often reproduce all the lyrics for a song, but in this case it is necessary (the Pink Floyd reference is perfect):
That's how it starts
We go back to your house
You check the charts
And start to figure it out

And if it's crowded, all the better
Because we know we're gonna be up late
But if you're worried about the weather
Then you picked the wrong place to stay
That's how it starts

And so it starts
You switch the engine on
We set controls for the heart of the sun
One of the ways that we show our age

And if the sun comes up, if the sun comes up, if the sun comes up
And I still don't wanna stagger home
Then it's the memory of our betters
That are keeping us on our feet

You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan
And the next five years trying to be with your friends again
Oh, you're talking 45 turns just as fast as you can
Yeah, I know it gets tired, but it's better when we pretend

It comes apart
The way it does in bad films
Except the part
Where the moral kicks in

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

Oh, you drop the first ten years just as fast as you can
And the next ten people who are trying to be polite
When you're blowing 85 days in the middle of France
Yeah, I know it gets tired, only where are your friends tonight?

And to tell the truth
Oh, this could be the last time
So here we go
Like a sales force into the night

And if I made a fool, if I made a fool, if I made a fool
On the road, there's always this
And if I'm sued into submission
I can still come home to this

And with a face like a dad and a laughable stand
You can sleep on the plane or review what you said
When you're drunk and the kids look impossibly tanned
You think over and over "Hey, I'm finally dead."

Oh, if the trip and the plan come apart in your hand
You can turn it on yourself you ridiculous clown
You forgot what you meant when you read what you said
And you knew you were tired
But then where are your friends tonight?

Where are your friends tonight?
Where are your friends tonight?

If I could see all my friends tonight
If I could see all my friends tonight
If I could see all my friends tonight
If I could see all my friends tonight

LCD Soundsystem: "All My Friends", London Sessions, 2011 MSG live version
John Cale: "All My Friends"
Franz Ferdinand: "All My Friends"

I trust we will get together in 2016, but we'll need a Busch beer set out for our missing man.

2012 Bachelor Party

Tone Deaf Reunites for "Louie Louie" at Drew's Wedding

Tone Deaf.  Or at least 4/5 of Tone Deaf, Mk. III



2015 -- Yes, this really happened.


1 comment: