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Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation (1988)

April 29, 2015

[Album 395/1001]

“I played Love Tara by Eric’s Trip* on the day that you were born.”
– The Tragically Hip, Put it Off

I quite enjoy putting this in my cassette player, it sounds like the future!



Along with the tape-opening sound effect, the rest of Daydream Nation** really did sound like the future; few would argue it did anything less than lay the groundwork for a lot of, well, the 90s.220px-SonicYouthDaydreamNationalbumcover

And I love the 90s, so I should really love this, n’est-ce pas?

But I don’t.

And as a result, much like the hip lyric, I put this review off, desperately trying to figure out what I’m not getting before locking into a formal review.

Thanks to an equation proposed last week by The Album Cover Quizmaster/Bruce @ Vinyl Connection, I’m OK admitting I’m not a Daydream believer.

The equation Bruce proposed is this:

Appreciation = Understanding + Enjoyment

Normally when I don’t warm up to something, I’ll declare ignorance, I simply don’t get it.

The problem is, that’s not the case here, as I recognize/understand/unabashedly support the significance of this record.  And so, it appears, I still liked it, I just don’t enjoy it as much as others do.

Which of course does not mean I don’t APPRECIATE the album as mathematically, my high score for understanding on the right side would still lead to a very respectable appreciation sum on the left.

A 2×2 Matrix to simplify, comparing Daydream Nation to other albums also selected for preservation by the National Recording Registry (listening enjoyment & significance understanding scores are mine & mine alone of course):


* Eric’s Trip is also the name of a Daydream Nation song.  To complete the circle, Eric’s Trip (the band) was fronted by Julie Doiron who later appeared on a few hip/Gord Downie records, whose noisier collaborative moments (notably from Battle of the Nudes) could likely be traced back to Daydream Nation.

**There is also a film named Daydream Nation featuring a lead character named Thurston.  Would you believe there’s a Sonic Youth band member that shares said name?

From → 1980s

  1. I like it but it took a while and I can agree with you enough to say that it’s a bit over-rated. I really enjoy the closing epic.

    • And I’m glad they wrote the closing epic trilogy – on weezer’s latest (which I was surprised how much I enjoyed), they ended with a noisy trilogy, I’d imagine Sonic Youth is partly to thank!

  2. Also, further connections … Sonic Youth would follow up this album with GOO which featured KOOL THING which featured members of Public Enemy and mentioned “fear of a female planet” –> which leads us to your choice of High Understanding / High Enjoyment album.

  3. Really enjoyed your review. Never really liked this one either – I love Goo though. I can understand why this gets the kudos it does, but last time I played it I lasted one side.

    • And my Sonic Youth knowledge is limited to those two so far – it felt like this one was more about the ‘sound’ and Goo put more emphasis on the ‘songs.’ Songs win for me every time.
      Thanks 1537!

  4. I don’t care about Sonic Youth and I never got the hype. But I love this post. Your posts are becoming increasingly more complex!

    I thought you had raised the bar, so I actually have a post coming up where I’m getting a guy to draw me a diagram in AutoCad. But now I see you have continued to raise the bar! My AutoCad post is already lagging behind your leaps and bounds!

    Well done!

    • Haha, many thanks Mike!
      I think we’re all getting better at what we do & it has a lot to do with the community.
      We’re all reading each others posts, I know I’m getting a tonne of ideas from you folks on different directions to take a review.
      It’s sort of like playing a sport, if you’re playing with better players, you end up raising your game. So by surrounding myself with excellent bloggers, I’m hoping to keep improving as a result!

      I like the sounds of this autocad post!

      • Thanks! And I liked this, a lot. It is cool how each of us takes inspiration from one another…it’s great. I know I’m twice the writer and probably 5 times the blogger I was only 3 years ago!

  5. Daydream Nation has been on my ‘to investigate’ list for quite a while. Reading your (and other) comments, I might review its place on that list.

    PS Thanks for the mention; I loved that you ran with the idea. Now if we can only work out how to incorporate the vital frame of ‘context’, there’ll be something to patent!

    Thought 3: the Velvet Underground is the only album on your square that is High-High for me. And tho’ I have FoaBP, I find it totally meaningless. Might be a combo of being white, middle-aged, non-North American, privileged, and part of the dominant culture. But I’m guessing there.

    Final: really enjoyed this post Geoff.

    • We’ll be discussing patents in my accounting class this week – the good news is, if we successfully patent the music math equation, it can be amortized over the shorter of its estimated useful life or legal life!

      Thank you for the idea, it has helped me come to terms with the important distinction between ‘like’ and ‘appreciate’

      Admittedly, I can’t say FoaBP describes my daily experience, it’s likely because it was my first non-Vanilla Ice/MC Hammer rap album that it was such an important one on my musical journey.

      Thanks for reading Bruce!

  6. I haven’t listened to this one in a very, very (very) long time. Don’t imagine that will change anytime soon, either – like you I get it, but just don’t enjoy it. When I want to listen to Sonic Youth I reach for Goo. Cause that’s still ace. Hurrah!

  7. ianbalentine permalink

    As unhip as it may be I have never seen the appeal in a Sonic Youth record. Ditto Pavement, and I know it puts me in the minority, but I’m with you on the whole “understand the significance” thing.

    • This is a safe place to be unhip, not to worry! I remember your Pavement post from a while back – I think with them, it’s the lyrics that really appeal to me. Malkmus as the singer, I can see that being an acquired taste!

  8. Hackskeptic permalink

    Like you, I get Sonic Youth’s significance but I don’t get them, if you know what I mean?

  9. I’ve never listened to this one…I was gifted a used copy of Sonic Youth’s Dirt back in the 90s, and tried and tried to enjoy it, but never got there. My friend Ken swears by these guys – I just never reached that SY likeable phase.

    • I prefer Goo, haven’t heard Dirt yet.
      I think it was Rich who once said if he doesn’t reach that likeable phase, he’s ok to let others like them, I enjoy borrowing that line!

  10. I always liked this album, EVOL, Sister, Goo and Dirty too. That was the period I was most into them. I heard later stuff but I always went back.

    For those of your Readers who need a bit more of an overview to get their appetite whetted, I fully recommend their Screaming Fields Of Sonic Love compilation (it cover everything up to and including Daydream Nation). It can usually be found cheap, and is a great CD, top to bottom.

  11. Not wild about Sonic Youth, but I am an old White American who really digs Public Enemy!

    • On FoaBP there’s the Ice Cube line, “Ice Cube is down with the PE” – and we might not use those words exactly Steve but so are we!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Sonic Youth – Trilogy | A Song A Day
  2. 1988 | 1001albumsin10years

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