A GUEST POSTING by DAVID GLICKMANN
JC writes……this was planned to appear on 10 May, to mark the anniversary of the tragic death of Scott Hutchison. I’m very grateful to David for his understanding in my wish to hold it back while the blog was in mourning for Tim.
I suppose my response was not all that much different from many others. I put on Scott Hutchison’s masterpiece, The Midnight Organ Fight, and sat back, eyes fixed in a haze of shock and sadness. The music filled the room, without the usual enjoyment, until everything came crashing down. Scott began singing the words to Floating in the Forth and even though I was aware at the time of only the barest details of the circumstances of his death, I knew this cut far too close to the bone. Tears streaming, I turned off the music and acknowledged that it would have to be quite a while before I would feel strong enough to listen to this particular set of songs again.
As my desire to celebrate his life and art in the wake of tragedy remained, over the next few days I assembled a playlist of Frightened Rabbit “rarities” – b-sides, extra tracks, one-off singles. While still capturing Scott’s magic, the songs didn’t, for the most part, touch quite as raw a nerve for me. I went through a couple of iterations before landing on these ten tracks.
While it was definitely not my original motivation or intention, sure enough, I had created an ICA. I titled the list FR NA ICA, for Frightened Rabbit Non-Album Imaginary Compilation Album, and thought that in the future I might feel enough distance from the emotions of the time to write it up. Perhaps this one-year anniversary is still too soon; I hope not.
A proper title for the album? Let’s go with Please Don’t Leave Me.
1. Fields of Wheat (single, 2017)
One of the last things released by Frightened Rabbit during Scott’s lifetime, the song is apparently an attack on Teresa May and the Tories. From this side of the pond, I’m a bit reticent to comment on UK politics, but given all the news of the past couple years, I think it is fair to say that he was on to something.
For my purposes, this track is the perfect mood setter with exactly the right mix of beauty and sadness.
2. Architect (w/ Manchester Orchestra) (Record Store Day release and Late March, Death March EP, 2013)
Every time I hear this song, I’m reminded that I have still yet to check out Manchester Orchestra. For this I am sad, as I strongly suspect that I may be missing out on something. What I love about this track is that while neither Scott nor Andy Hull have anything resembling classic or traditional singing voices, they combine in such a seamless way that it elevates both.
3. Set You Free (N-Trance cover) (Heads Roll Off single, 2008)
Every time I hear this song, I’m reminded that I have still yet to check out the original N-Trance track. For this I am happy, as I strongly suspect it would destroy my future enjoyment of Frightened Rabbit’s version.
4. Fuck This Place (A Frightened Rabbit EP, 2011)
This is Scott’s rather melancholy take on the same thematic material as Stephen Stills’ Love The One You’re With. The contribution of Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell alone ought to be sufficient to make this a favorite.
As a lark, I often include this track in the otherwise forgettable playlists I put together for our middle-aged dinner parties (you, too, will grow old, my friends). Like clockwork, as Scott and Tracyanne sing “Would you be good enough to take me home,” someone around the table inevitably asks what this song is and I get to watch the blood drain out of everyone’s face as I answer, “It’s Fuck This Place by Frightened Rabbit. Do you like it?”
5. It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop (single, 2007)
The first, and in my opinion, the best, of several Christmas singles released under the Frightened Rabbit name. Has the Pope ever made a more compelling statement on tolerance and universal love than this?
We can be best friends with the people we hate
‘Cause we’ve all got blood
And it’s warmer than you’d think
6. Don’t (bonus track on the Australian release of The Midnight Organ Fight, 2008)
Unless you are from down under, this is perhaps the most obscure, officially released track in the entire Frightened Rabbit discography. Yet, once I set aside Floating in the Forth, it quickly became my go to song for shedding many a tear in memory.
Admittedly, I am ripping the lyrics out of context, but, as the song begins, I imagine that we are sitting in a room with Scott on that fateful night. He stands to get up as I (you, we) plead…
Please don’t leave me, don’t forget me
Don’t leave me here
Please don’t leave me, don’t desert me
Don’t leave me here
7. If You Were Me (bonus track on the deluxe edition of Pedestrian Verse, 2013)
…and yet he heads towards the door anyway, turning only briefly to reply…
How could it go so wrong so quickly?
Oh, what would you do if you were me?
Don’t assume that I have found this easy
Oh, how would you feel if you were me?
If you are not in a puddle by now, then I don’t know what to say.
8. Boxing Night (State Hospital EP, 2012)
Scott adds just a touch of anger to the usual themes of heartbreak, loneliness and loss.
It’s quite surprising reading reviews of this EP from when it was released. It seems that, generally, people hated it. With the benefit of time, I find it hard to agree. After all, it includes State Hospital and this. Even if the other three tracks were just the band scrapping fingernails on chalk boards, it would still be essential listening.
9. Scottish Winds (A Frightened Rabbit EP, 2011)
I dare not attempt anything thoughtful or profound about this song at the risk of great embarrassment. You wouldn’t happen to know anyone with actual experience of Scottish wind, rain and blood who could chime in?
10. Snake… (extra track on the remixed/remastered version of Sing The Greys, 2007)
Really? I wanted to close on a bright note and, if nothing else, Snake… never fails to make me smile. Of course, by now, we all know that the song is not about what we think it’s about. On the other hand, if Scott’s explanation is to be believed, then … no, sorry, still too soon,
Scott’s family have now launched the charity that has been set up in his memory. It’s called Tiny Changes.
It’s aim is to:-
Raise awareness about children and young people’s mental health issues.
Advance understanding of the root causes of mental ill health and support innovation in the design and delivery of mental health services to children and young people.
Support and promote initiatives that provide help to children and young people impacted by mental health problems, their families and carers.
Provide a voice to children and young people who have been affected by mental health issues to influence mental health policy and practice.
The website can be found here.
I’m incredibly proud of the fact that the last Simply Thrilled evening, with the support of The Twilight Sad and Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai, was able to raise £1800 for this very worthy cause.