Sunday, August 3, 2008


The first song on Sonic Youth's 4th LP "Sister" is called "Schizophrenia."

By the end of 1986, Sonic Youth saw themselves extremely busy with a nearly 6 month tour schedule. November saw the end of EVOL and the beginning of a new era for Sonic Youth. Little time was taken in between albums as the band along with Mike Watt put together an experimental piece titled "Ciccone Youth." Sonic Youth's evolving appreciation for pop music began to not only grow in their record collection but also in their own music. Instead of rejecting pop music, they embraced it in their own way. Prince, Micheal Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and especially Madonna were all in heavy rotation. It was only a matter of time Sonic Youth was capable of channelling those elements into their music.

The word "cyber-punk" had been thrown around by Thurston at the start of 1987. Sonic Youth had branched out of their avant garde days to arrive to a newer medium of punk rock. It wasn't just punk rock, it was something else, music not for today but for the future. "Cyber-Punk" was used to describe the sounds of "Sister."

"Schizphrenia" starts with a really upbeat drum intro. Almost 80's. But then again, its the 80's right? SO why not? Who cares if Sonic Youth wants to actually keep a beat now? The song also contains the bands first ever "hook." A riff that not only carries the song but the vocal melody when Thurstons sings (and yes sings) "I went away to see a an old friend of mine, her sister came over, she was out of her mind!" The song then switches to a Kim part with her singing "the future is static, its that we have." The theme for the record is set in the first song. In a matter of 4 minutes the band manages to give you a glimpse of a newer kind of Sonic Youth, alot like EVOL, songs YOU CAN AND WILL REMEMBER!

Lyrically, the song is based on the life of Phillip K. Dick, a science fiction writer that Thurston has been obsessing over for a few years. Dick is most well known for the avant garde science fiction novels "The Scanner Darkly," "Radio Free Albemuth," "Man in the High Castle," and "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" Thurston learned a bit about his life from Wharton Tiers and tied his life into the song referring to fraternal twin "Jane" who died shortly after her birth. Thurston manages to remove himself and place his own thoughts into the mind of Dick and speak in a first person point of view. This is when Sonic Youth begins to leave their abstract lyrical thinking behind.

The working title was called "Sister," and was often announced that way for years. Alternate title maybe?

"Schizophrenia" was debut in April 1987 and became the bands opener for the entire '87 tour. The song became a staple in the live set especially during the breakdown. The song was not played during the '88-'89 Daydream Nation tour but came back into regular play in 1990. The song disappeared from '96-'99 but has been played quite frequently since 2000, mostly as an opener or an encore song. I have seen the band play this song twice. Quite possibly my favorite Sonic Youth track.  On May 2nd 2001, During Kim's part, she pointed at me during she sang "i could tuck you in and we could talk about it." I was flabbergasted!

This video is from 1987. Not sure on the date.

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