Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation Turns 30
To even write out that subhead is surreal. How on earth can an album that, three decades later, still sounds so damn ancillary to a true teenage riot?
When Daydream Nation was released on October 19, 1988, they were up against–well for one Big Thing by Duran Duran, which is a lot better than you might remember–but also The Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1 at the local Tower Records that Tuesday. And looking back on it 30 years later, could there have been any two better albums that defined the generational divide in 1988? Both are amazing, let me say that first and foremost, and I listen to each of them with the same set of loving ears as I did in my own sonic youth. But one album personified the spoils of rock idol excess in its own cheeky and endearing way, while the other was hellbent on throwing bricks at the rock legends’ picturesque view of the superstar life. That urgency in songs like “Silver Rocket” and “Hey Joni,” tempered by the atmospheric cool of “Cross the Breeze” and “Providence,” especially when its coupled by an epic song like “Candle.” Then you get to the “Trilogy,” which is 14 minutes and two seconds of overlooking the destruction they left in their path like motherloving champions.
No time for a big, long analysis or remembrance as to why Daydream Nation remains such a clarion call to that inner adolescent fury existing in all of us at varying degrees of self-control. If you know it, you know it. But we had to wave hello to Sonic Youth and salute this most magnificent fucking album on its 30th anniversary. Just listen to it today if you can. You’ll be glad you did.
Additionally, there will be a special “30 Years of Daydream Nation” event coming up on October 20th at Portland, OR’s Hollywood Theatre, comprised of an anthology of films and video footage from the group’s archives, including a new concert film shot by longtime SY pal Lance Bangs formatted around a complete performance of Daydream Nation by the band in 2007. The other films include Charles Atlas‘ 1989 documentary on New York’s downtown music scene in the 80s called Put Blood in the Music, and Rust, which compiles Sonic Youth’s performances on Dutch television. Get yer tickets here.