12/03/2013

Daydream Nation

My recent purchase from eBay showed up today. A four-LP deluxe edition of Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation. I originally bought this album on CD in 1990 having only heard Silver Rocket and Teenage Riot. The sound took me to new places in my imagination, and now these records will sit amongst all of the vinyl I've accumulated through my childhood and my Freecycle binges.

This one's special, though, because now I own a formative album on the first medium I was ever aware. There is something about vinyl that connects me to me childhood and my core self, and I'm so glad I finally have a record player again to experience this on a daily basis.

What I am listening to right now is not digitial. The sonic waves hitting my ear drums right now are the result of a physical connection between plastic and metal. To  me, this gives what I'm hearing more authenticity than an mp3 file or a YouTube video. I'm currently listening to Sonic Youth's cover of Neil Young's Computer Age, a track off of his Trans album. Sonic Youth's version that pays homage to a great song and steps it up a notch.

Before this was a cover of the Beatles "Within You Without You" as well as a cover of Mudhoney's "Touch Me I'm Sick" which Kim Gordon sold completely. They made these songs at the same time they made their own masterpiece. Daydream Nation will always be my favorite Sonic Youth album, because it feels like an aesthetic coming alive. Sonic Youth doesn't sound like anyone else, but they were influenced by everything that came before. This side of the fourth album is reminding me that they were well aware of who their influences were.

Fifteen feet behind me, a turntable is moving at a pace of 33 and a third revolutions per minute while a needle soaks up grooves and turns it into music that blasts out speakers I got through Freecyle.

Then, a demo version of Eric's Trip comes on, and I've never heard it before. It's so raw. Just him, an electric guitar, and the crackle of vinyl. A song I thought was effortless is stripped bare. The record skips, and it's real. This got pressed on vinyl as a document of what this song was to become. It sounds amateurish, but it's not because of course he intended it as a first pass. 

And now an alternative version of Kissability comes on, possibly a live one. I've not read the liner notes yet. But then a live version of Eric's Trip comes on, and you can hear all the pieces come together in a most perfect way, creating one of the best songs of my adolescence. The album version trumps it, of course, but it's fascinating to have a study playing through a system that I usually associate with cheesy albums and the classic rock albums I inherited through my body.

Listening to live tracks from Daydream Nation through a record player connected to my stereo, over 20 years later, is fueling me with something. I'm hearing Candle in a whole new light. Lyrics jump out at me different. The musical structure fills me with happiness.

When I was younger, I never thought I would get caught  up in nostalgia. I seem to have been wrong about many things. 

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