He's got his own brand of coffee. He's singing for Gorillaz. He deejays in the Boiler Room. He lectures at Red Bull Music Academy (I was there). He co-edited his own documentary that's just hit Sundance Film Festival. There are rumours of a novel. LCD Soundsystem might have called it a day but James Murphy is ruddy everywhere. You can't escape him and why on earth would you want to? This polymath rock star/deejay/super producer was never going to go gentle in to that good night. He's got so much to say. His lyrics always told us that.

I've tried very hard to work out what exactly it is that conjures Murphy's magic. Here's my best guess: He's your guy next door with a PhD in Cultural Theory. He's the cynical romantic. He's the most sober voice of hedonism I've ever heard. The best voice of this generation, his philosophies and stories explain the dichotomy of modern living better than anyone.

I've selected three LCD Soundsystem tracks, one from each album, each highlighting the many sides of Murph – the geek, the romantic, the party monster. I think we can all relate.


Losing My Edge

Building walls of culture around yourself as a protective force-field is no new thing. Simon and Garfunkel knew about it with their "I have my books and poetry to protect me" lyric in 'I Am A Rock'. Taking it to the music nerds in the 21st century is where Murphy stepped in. With the simplest of beats imaginable (made by a boom-box with a beat-box in it, given to him by Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys) Murphy laces his knowledge and fear around you with honesty and his ever present humour. "But I'm losing my edge to better-looking people with better ideas and more talent and they're actually really, really nice" cracks me up every time. Whilst being funny it's wildly vulnerable, Murphy calling it "the most direct song I have." He's showing off but out of desperation and fear of being replaced. He said at his recent Red Bull Music Academy interview "that when you've given up and all you have left is all you know - that protects you from judgement. I wanted the 'me' in the song, by knowing a lot about records to say "you can't fuck with me." So he's one of us then. Jolly good.

  • I'm losing my edge
  • I'm losing my edge
  • I can hear the footsteps every night on the decks
  • But I was there

  • I was there in 1974 at the first Suicide practices in a loft in New York City
  • I was working on the organ sounds with much patience
  • I was there when Captain Beefheart started up his first band
  • I told him, "Don't do it that way. You'll never make a dime."
  • I was there

  • I was the first guy playing Daft Punk to the rock kids
  • I played it at CBGB's
  • Everybody thought I was crazy
  • We all know
  • I was there

  • I was there
  • I've never been wrong
  • I used to work in the record store
  • I had everything before anyone
  • I was there in the Paradise Garage DJ booth with Larry Levan
  • I was there in Jamaica during the great sound clashes
  • I woke up naked on the beach in Ibiza in 1988

  • But I'm losing my edge to better-looking people
  • with better ideas and more talent
  • And they're actually really, really nice
  • I'm losing my edge

  • I heard you have a compilation
  • Of every good song ever done by anybody
  • Every great song by the Beach Boys
  • All the underground hits
  • All the Modern Lovers tracks

  • I heard you have a vinyl of every Niagra record on German import
  • I heard that you have a white label
  • Of every seminal Detroit techno hit - 1985, '86, '87.
  • I heard that you have a CD compilation of every good '60s cut
  • And another box set from the '70s




All My Friends

I love this song. I'm a huge fan. "I wouldn't change one stupid decision for another five years of life" pretty much sums up why. I know I'm not alone here. It's a BIG tune. And Murph knows it too. He said of the track lately "The song that connected with people the most I had the hardest time being released. And I felt it was really poppy. There's a chord change and we were like 'What's next? Boyband?" He jokes, but I do not. The music is dactylic and so are the words. Everyone can relate to being out on the weekend and those corners of your mind that you wander to. I'm not going to pick it apart too much. You all know it. If you don't – get to know it. But again it is Murphy's juxtapositions that hit me hard; the realistic monotony of being "worried about the weather" is smacked down with the soaring image of you and your friends as you "set controls for the heart of the sun" – the ultimate nihilism. The insignificance of your booze-addled state of "staggering home" completely overwhelmed by the greatness of "the memory of our betters that are keeping us on our feet." The balance of life established by opposites. And parties. And the love of your mates.

  • That's how it starts
  • We go back to your house
  • We check the charts
  • And start to figure it out

  • And if it's crowded, all the better
  • Because we know we're gonna be up late
  • But if you're worried about the weather
  • Then you picked the wrong place to stay
  • That's how it starts

  • And so it starts
  • You switch the engine on
  • We set controls for the heart of the sun
  • One of the ways we show our age
  • And if the sun comes up,
  • if the sun comes up,
  • if the sun comes up
  • And I still don't wanna stagger home
  • Then it's the memory of our betters
  • That are keeping us on our feet

  • You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan
  • And the next five years trying to be with your friends again
  • You're talking 45 turns just as fast as you can
  • Yeah, I know it gets tired,
  • But it's better when we pretend
  • It comes apart
  • The way it does in bad films
  • Except in parts
  • When the moral kicks in
  • Though when we're running out of the drugs
  • And the conversation's winding away
  • I wouldn't trade one stupid decision
  • For another five years of life




Dance Yourself Clean

The title alone sets you off; our James is out for a party. The classic Murphy humour is present and correct with his line "present company excluded" repeated throughout, telling you that yes he's on a bender and that he doesn't actually care who with, but he'll be polite and make like he's their pal for now. Part of him wishes he hadn't bothered and had stayed in with his Mrs – I really dig this line, it's insanely sweet: "Break me into bigger pieces, so some of me is home with you," but she must understand, the man just can't resist a party. The illustrious "if we wait until the weekend, we can miss the best things to do" tells you that. Lord knows how many of my Sundays have been a complete write off. Trips to galleries, trips to markets, trips to brother's birthdays; all abandoned. It was definitely not as important as the fun of the night before. Don't pretend you haven't done it too.

  • Don't you want me to wake up?
  • Then give me just a bit of your time
  • Arguments are made from make outs
  • So give it just a little more time

  • We've got to bring our results
  • I wanna play it 'til the time comes
  • But there's a string of divorces
  • You go and throw your little hands up

  • I miss the way the night comes
  • With friends who always make it feel good
  • This basement has a cold glow
  • Though it's better than a bunch of others

  • So go and dance yourself clean
  • Go and dance yourself clean yeah
  • You're throwing marks into pieces
  • Baby, they're arguments, the pieces

  • Every night's a different story
  • It's a thirty car pile-up with you
  • Everybody's getting younger
  • It's the end of an era, it's true

  • Break me into bigger pieces
  • So some of me is home with you
  • Wait until the weekend
  • And we can make our bad dreams come true

  • And it's ago yeah, it's ago
  • And if we wait until the weekend
  • We can miss the best things to do


----------



I could do this for every single one of James Murphy's songs. I won't. You just listen closely. Take some time out to remember that band who still laugh, cry, dance and nurse hangovers with you on a Sunday morning.