Following on from my recent post on John Peel Day, I thought I’d answer the question I posed.
Q: What record would always make your playlist and why?
For me the answer would always have to be “Freak Scene” by Dinosaur Jr.
I associate it with the summer I graduated from Uni and was looking for my first job. I had reluctantly cut my hair and shaved my goatee. I feared losing the person I had become during my student days in order to pretend to be someone I didn’t want to be. I dreaded the notion of a conveyor belt of pristine ”yes men” desperate for their first chance to impress in the corporate world. That wasn’t me and isn’t me. I wanted to stand out rather than fit in. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and didn’t have a clue where life was headed. Few firms in the field I had studied in seemed to be recruiting as the market was in a slump. I was living at home and there was real tension in the house. I don’t think my parents could believe that a University education didn’t lead to a guaranteed job.
Up until that point life had always had a routine…get up, go to school or uni, hang with friends, work, rest and play. All of a sudden the comfort of that was gone and the great unknown loomed big on the immediate horizon. My girlfriend at the time (who would later become my wife) had finished up her course and was leaving town to enroll on an art degree at Duncan of Jordonston and I didn’t know what city I’d be living in or what I’d be doing. Unlike previous years I didn’t have a summer job, wasn’t earning and felt guilty about how I was spending my days. It was a very confusing, stressful and difficult period.
Mudd Club was the choice of venue for a Monday night after a get together at Ma’Camerons. It was an alternative music night that had run for years. In the midst of all of that conflict, I remember dancing away with one of my longest standing friends who I consider to be a brother that I never had. The sloppy guitar of Dinosaur Jr’s “Freak Scene” came on and it sounded like the sort of music that anyone could make in their bedrooms – loose, messy and fuelled with emotion. As we shook our hair around on the dance floor the closing lines blared out of the PA and, as I looked my buddy right in the eye, I experienced a defining moment in life. In that instant I just knew that a lifelong vow of friendship, commitment and accountability had been made during the song’s last few seconds…The words may not have been the way we would have articulated it, but the sentiment was and still is there. The smiling and shrugging at the mess all around and my, seemingly, powerlessness to change any of it combined with my recognition that I couldn’t do it on my own. The words and the sound actually seemed a truer refelection of what I felt than any of the ways I might have phrased or penned or said it aloud:-
“Sometimes I don’t thrill you
Sometimes I think I’ll kill you
So don’t let me f–k up, will you?
Cause when I need a friend it’s still you.
What a mess….”
All these years later, that commitment to friendship and support remains as the two of us have journeyed on. Keith bro’, you know that this one’s for you.
So, here is a brilliant live version of the song which captures all the shambollic sloppiness and chaos that makes it so important to me. The clip is introduced by indie music demi-godess, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth no less…raaawwwwwkkkk!