Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Trilogy: The Wonder, Hyperstation, Eliminator Jr.

The final track on Sonic Youth's 5th LP Daydream Nation is a three song jam called "Trilogy." The three segments are titled The Wonder, Hyperstation, and Eliminator Jr.

How do you end one of the most influential albums in music history? What was going through the bands head when deciding on the track listing for what could have potentially been the bands last and final record? How do you bring everything you have spent building for the last 6 years to a grinding halt? Easy, take three songs that were not going to be on the album, and make it one song. 14 minutes......

By the end of the recording process, the band had many untitled jams that were not going to be used for the record. Sonic Youth managed to peice together three of Thurstons contributions because they all sounded veyr similar to each other and flowed neatly. If the band had not distinguished the three sections, the listener would never know. Ending on a long, yet high note is something the band is known to do. So far, "Expressway To Yr Skull" had been the only record ending opus, but this way of ending an album will repeat several times in the next 20 years.

The album gets is name from "Hyperstation." The line "day dreamy day in a day dream nation." Thurston enjoys rhyming random words together, even if he is not making any real clear sense. Kim explained that the title was going to come from a line in a song, so they jsut wrote out a list of potential titles derived from all the songs. "Daydream Nation" won the vote.

The "Trilogy" manages to take everything the band had worked towards and lump it into a 14 minute opus. Daydream Nation is the top of a mountain. After 5 records, the music had evolved the place they wanted to take it. Art punk became the Sonic Youth sound. ANy band that can take noise and turn it into pop music deserves recognition. And that is why Daydream Nation was added to the United States Library of Congress Popular Music Preserve List in 2006. It's just that good people!

"Trilogy" was played nightly during the 1988'89 tour. It was retired, never to be heard again until 2007 when band decided to do a tour playing the album from start to finish. All 14 minutes of it.

Daydream Nation is the end of an era and the start of a new one. By the end of 1989, the band went around world and began going in a brand new yet obvious direction. Music was about a to change in a way Sonic Youth would have never imagined in 1982. In just under a year, their cult-like status will change to god-like, with help of a guy named Kurt.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


The second to last track on Daydream Nation is called "Kissability."

Sonic fans got one of the greatest suprises in 2002, Kissability had risen from the grave! During the Murrary Street tour, the band re-worked and worked in some older tunes for Kim to sing freely with Jim O'rourke rocking the bass. Kool Thing and Making The Nature Scene were among the songs brought back into the set.

"Kissability" is another song that re-invents an older Sonic style. The song has a bass riff that drones the main riff with verse and chorus both sharing the riff. Lee provides more of his now signature harmonics and picking. Plus, there is a breakdown of noise that leads back into the main riff. Very reminiscent of the EVOL era.

"Kissability" was the first of many Daydream Nation songs to come back during the 2002-03. Before this time, Teenage Riot and Eric's Trip were only songs that survived and were played regularly. Kissability, Total Trash, Candle, and Silver Rocket all saw set time from 2002-06.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Rain King

The next song on Daydream Nation is called "Rain King."

This is a milestone for one very simple reason....its Lee's 3rd vocal on a record. By far, the most of any Sonic Youth album. What does this tell us? Lee should sing more.....

Dirge and grind. This song reminds me of older Sonic. It was never really one of my favorites, but brings a smile to myself. It has a twinge to it that hints at things to come...lead guitar!! Not sure why but the working title was called "Mellancamp." John perhaps?

Rarely played live. Lee often changed the lyrics during the '88 tour. He shows this in years to come with many of his contributions. Lee has always felt that just because a song is recorded and released, its never the final realization of the song. Rain King falls into that category, must be why the rarely played the song.

Resurrected for the 2007-08 Daydream Nation re-issue shows. Has not survived since.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


The 9th song on Daydream Nation is called "Candle."

Slow burn. Isn't that what a candle does? It can only burn and light so long. The cover of Daydream Nation features a rather simple photograph of a candle. This song represents the center piece of the album. aren't candles also used as centerpieces?? Ironic isn't it?
"Candle" starts off slow and quiet, then moves into main section of the song. Alot like Cross The Breeze, its multi-sectional, but features very straight verse/chorus parts.

The song uses alot of imagery alternating the word "candle." The line "tonight's the day" is a play on the Neil Young song "Today is The day." "Tonight's The Day" was one of few titles kicked around for Daydream Nation. The song actually influenced the use of the candle on the cover. The front cover was painted by artist Gerhard Ritcher in 1983. It's titled "Kerze." The album was sold on the bootleg market in Russia. They even attempted to re-create the front cover...

Candle was one of easiest to pull off live Thurston and Lee both use a EEAAEE tuning. Lee of course plays the more intricate parts while Thurston leads the riff along with bass.

Candle disappeared after the '89 tour and came back in 2002! That was a surprise because the band was opening many shows with Candle. It enjoyed some nice stage time for most of the 2002-03 tour, then went back into hiding until 2006 when it was obvious the band was gearing up for their 2007 Daydream Nation tour. Candle remains a fan favorite from this record.

Video to come soon.....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


The 8th song on Daydream Nation is called "Providence."

This is hardly a song, more like a transition. 1988, Thurston went to see his friend Mike Watt's new band fIREhOSE in NYC. Thurston had come to the show with a box of cables of cassettes. He later discovered that he accidently threw the box away along with some trash at the show. Watt cakked Thurston at 10:30 the enxt night in Providence, Rhode Island asking if he had found the box. The track features the message Watt left on the answering machine. Apparently Thurston was "high" and becomes forgetful....

This song also has a piano playing in the background. This was taken  from a cassette recording at Thurston's mother's house. Sounds of an over heating peavey tube amp can be heard in the background aswell. 

Providence is a nice transition from half of the record to the other. This sound collage seems to be influenced by Lou Barlow's tape collage on the Dinosaur Jr album "You're Living All Over Me." Lou's cassette collages were becoming more frequent at shows, and around this time Thurston began blasting random cassettes of Madonna filled with guitars noises and answering machine messages.

This song was "played" inbetween the main set and encore on the '88-'89 tour. Usually before Total Trash during the end of the set. "Providence" was also placed in its proper place during the 2007-08 Daydream Nation shows.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Here are some Youtube videos from the past few posts...

Hey Joni

The seventh song on Daydream Nation is called "Hey Joni."

Lee actually sings more than one song on a record! This does not happen very often, in fact, Lee sings one other, which we will get to soon!

Inspired by the movie "Neuromancer," the titles takes a play on the song "Hey Joe."

This song comes at you with force. After the noises and drones from Total Trash, Hey Joni starts immediately, no time for an intro or extended parts. Lee and Thurston play very similar parts on this song and even share tunings. This is rare, which leads me to believe this song came together quickly, leaving no time for thought. 'Hey Joni" also features more of Lee's intricate signature harmonics.

This is also one of the few Sonic Youth songs that feature a very stable verse/chorus/verse/chorus. Thurston and Kim have stated that around this time they digging on Dinosaur Jr, and J's songs influenced much of the writing. I would be more inclined to believe this on Goo or Dirty, but in 1988, Dinosaur was hot sheet on the indie scene.

This is my freind Jason Manley's favorite song.

This song got retired in 1990. It makes sense because Eric's Trip was the staple Lee song until 1995. Hey Joni was revived for a few shows in 2006 but brought back into the set nightly during the 2007 Daydream Nation re-release tour. Hey Joni also managed to get regular play after that tour during all the sporatic dates in 2008. It was play in Nashville back in April...and it was awesome!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Total Trash

The sixth song on Daydream Nation is called "Total Trash."

"Total Trash" follows Eric's Trip very seamlessly. It has a very simple three chord riff and drives almost the entire song. The riff is very "rock and roll" 12 bar blues, something we don't see too much in the Sonic Youth cannon, but of course its not tuned to E!

Total Trash uses the same riff throughout the song as both a verse and chorus with Lee providing some really basic lead guitar. Thurston sings a melody that rings and has some catchy words.


We ge to the end of 2nd chorus and typical Sonic fashion, it all comes crumbling down like building getting demolished. Leave it up to Sonic Youth to completely deconstruct one of the most basic songs of their current status! Its still all punk and no play.

The breakdown leads into a nice noise jam that uses the riff as a backbone. It has been said that Totla Trash is the second longest song on this record. A rough mix from the daydream sessions emerge in bootleg form to reveal the song having a much longer jam making the song well over 9 minutes! What is great about this tune is that the breakdown is more of a "jam" than a noise jam because the main riff is contained and each member gets to sort of "go off" for a moment or two. Mastrubation at its best. Where's J Mascis when you need him?

"Total Trash" was often played last in the set during the Daydream '88-'89 tour. It was absent until '93 where it was played nightly but then took another back seat until being dusted off June 18th 2003 in Louisville, Ky (i was there!) First performance in 10 years. It was played twice after that (same tour) and did not appear again until the 2007 Daydream Nation anniversary shows.

Video to come!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Eric's Trip

The fifth song on Daydream Nation is the Lee Renaldo classic "Eric's Trip."

Bugged eyed excitement came over me in June 2006 when I saw Sonic Youth in Atlanta on the Rather Ripped tour. Thurston broke out the drifter guitar and I knew what was coming....I could feel it...Lee says "ok my turn, this is eric's trip!"

Eric's Trip is one of the masterpeices that gives Daydream Nation its fortune and glory. This song is one of fur Lee songs to appear on the album, but for years, remained Lee's main staple in the set.

The melodic almost spoken words "I can't see anything at all, all I see is me, that clear enough thats whats important, to see me." So simple, yet so eloquent. Eric's Trip is anthem in itself. The songs takes lyrical inspiration from the Andy Warhol film "Chelsea Girls" following the acid trip of one of the characters Eric Emmerson.

One of the most inventive Sonic tracks. The entire song was written using Thurston's Drifter guitar. It was also during this time the band began to rely more heavily on their equipment. Eric's Trip seemed nearly impossible to pull off without the drifter!

Eric's Trip was the Lee staple from '88-'99, only to be replaced with Hoarfrost and Skip Tracer. The song seemed to be lost forever when the band had their equipment stolen in the summer of '99. After a nearly four year silence, the song returned a few times when Thurston managed to find adn hot rod another drifter guitar. The 2006 tour featured the song in heavy rotation, especially for the Daydream Nation album shows.

Video to come soon!