>New York band LCD Soundsystem played their final shows this past week; the final show from one of the more notable, critically acclaimed bands of the early 21st century is tonight at Madison Square Garden. Their song “All My Friends,” off their 2007 album Sound of Silver, is one of my favorite songs of all time, one of those rare songs that’s both intimate and familiar but always makes you feel like you’re hearing it for the first time. What follows is an edited version of a piece I wrote about that song, and what it means to me, from a few years ago. Thanks, LCD Soundsystem — y’all were awesome.
I wouldn’t trade one stupid decision
For another five years of life
You’re young and stupid and/or unpopular, and your parents pay for everything and you never think it’s going to end. You sit in a college dorm closet while the RAs pull a drunk girl out of the bathroom even though you’re not underage so you really have no need to be in this closet at all. The people you met on the balcony five minutes ago; the girl you smoked cigarettes and talked about Labyrinth is, and she’s in the closet so you, too, are in the closet.
And you talk to your friends about the scripts they’re writing and the projects they’ve got going and books you want to adapt and dream casting for comic adaptations and you dream that you’ll work with the people in it, right now, for the rest of your lives. That’s how it starts.
Later, you stagger home through Chinatown and the Village and you sit quietly on the trolley, because at that point it’s got to be two, three in the morning and you’re the only one on the bus anyway as the sun comes up. You review what you said and you feel like a fake because you blew your shot, and you won’t be making those projects because you’ve already written yourself off. You think that the people at the party feel that way — it doesn’t matter if they do (they don’t), but you do. And that’s how you’ll spend the next five years and the next five years after that.
But it’s better when we pretend.
And so it comes apart, the way it does in bad films. And the moral kicks in years later — that talent and a singular focus almost always go hand in hand, especially when you’re starting out. You’ve got to be driven, got to be focused, got to give (most) of it all up. You think this translates into nobody caring about you, nobody taking you seriously. That’s missing the point, but then, you’ve always missed the point.
Years later, you’re back in New York, and you hear this song, a song that takes a while to get where it’s going. It plays again and again, the piano melody acting as the time machine noise from Wayne’s World, and it takes you back to a place when you’re young and stupid and nobody cares. And you wonder how it’ll be in five years, and in five years after that.
That’s when you’re offered a job, a chance to write again, to come back to the joy of it. The memory of your betters — the more talented people — are what are keeping you on your feet. And it works. You grab onto their focus, take it as inspiration, and use it. Make it your own.
LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends”, which is probably one of my all-time favorite songs even though I heard it for the first time this year, makes me think about all of that, of that time from a year that I rarely talk about, rarely write about, a year that I’ve both lost and will always remember, if not regret, but it also fills me with a hope. It reminds me of what I lost, and the mistakes I made, but it also makes me grateful. I have friends, colleagues, people willing to support me. People who care about what I do. So while I rarely talk to the dozens of people I met five, seven, ten years ago, I’m friends with some of them. The people who were there. Who are still there.
And the people I know now I will know five years from now. I’m sure of this.
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.