I think if James Murphy and I hung out we’d get along great. Or at the very least I’d feel great about the conversation while James might walk away from it feeling uncomfortable and weird. Either way, I’m drawn to this bear of a guy that makes electronic disco punk music that is, essentially, about feeling irrelevant in a sea of younger, cooler people. His songs aren’t all “Losing My Edge”, but they possess that spirit of “do people really care anymore?” The earlier stuff had this line of razor-sharp sarcasm that made LCDs work extremely self-aware. Murphy was practically saying “Yeah, I know I’m older than all of you and more tired than all of you…but I’ve got years of living under my belt little buckaroos.”
Sound of Silver is essentially the middle-aged album. It both laments and rejoices growing up and becoming an adult. “All My Friends” will forever be an anthem for those still trying to hold onto our youthful selves and those that made that youth so important to us. That was the record that brought me to LCD Soundsystem, actually. I hadn’t heard anything prior to that album. December 2007. James Murphy had completely avoided my radar. I’d heard rumblings about DFA Records, some guy named Murphy, and Daft Punk. But not until my birthday 2007 and spending a gift certificate at Sam Goody did I really start to know LCD Soundsystem. From Sound of Silver I worked my way back to the self-titled. The library had a copy of it that was a deluxe 2-disc version that had the album plus another disc with “Losing My Edge”, “Disco Infiltrator”, and a few other extended dance tracks. Once I’d heard “Losing My Edge” I knew Murphy was a brother from another mother. The conversation in the song about selling guitars for turntables and CD mixes of all the greatest songs of the 60s landed in just the right spot in my brain. The older DJ battling it out with the younger generation of DJs and musicians, trying to one up each other I just thought it was amazing. Plus it really opened my head to checking out some of the artists he mentions in the song. Gil Scot Heron, Can, and Yaz were all artists I’d heard of but never really delved into. Thanks to James Murphy and “Losing My Edge” I became a fan of all three.
Another thing about “Losing My Edge” is that build up in the song. Murphy’s sound ability really shows itself early in this song. He wanted to make electronic dance music, but with a real band. Sure he had stacks of synths everywhere, but he also had this top notch band with him helping him build these musical worlds tipping their hats to Bowie, Can, Yaz, Suicide, Velvet Underground, and countless other artists that had a stake in James Murphy’s brain. Watching them do this live is unbelievable. I mean, I haven’t seen them live except in Shut Up And Play The Hits, but I was impressed regardless.
James Murphy was 32 years old when he released “Losing My Edge”. He’d been the toast of the DJ world in New York and had seen some serious success. He’d also witnessed a major shift in the musical tide, which I think is where “Losing My Edge” culminated from. Feelings of being left behind by a younger generation and watching as his deep cuts became the norm in the clubs. Without those feelings of his relevancy slipping away and getting the impression that he was becoming the “old guy in the room” we may never have gotten LCD Soundsystem, and most certainly not “Losing My Edge”.
What a sad world that would be. Without LCD Soundsystem and James Murphy, middle-aged guys like me wouldn’t have that glimmer of hope that success in creativity doesn’t have an expiration date. Or that creativity itself doesn’t end when you prefer a cup of coffee to a glass of scotch. I feel that Murphy has gotten better with each successive record. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver, This Is Happening, and now American Dream, he’s proven time and time again that with age does come wisdom. Or at least a well-trained ear that knows how to turn knobs and write a melody really well.
But still, fucking “Losing My Edge” man. It never gets old.