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6. LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends

18/12/2009

In the final scene of It’s A Wonderful Life, George Bailey is saved from bankruptcy by his friends and neighbours and receives a book from his guardian angel carrying the inscription “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends”. It’s the movie’s epitaph, and remains a tearjerker because the desire for trustworthy, loving friends is so universal. Fast-forward 60 years, and relocate from post-war New England to post-millennial New York, and the sentiment endures: just as in Frank Capra’s classic, James Murphy reminds his audience of the beauty of friendship through reminiscences and reunions with his closest buddies, and the result is one of the noughties’ most moving sets of lyrics – quite some achievement for an 8-minute electronica record.
But the wonder of friendship is only the half of it – if Murphy is evoking It’s A Wonderful Life with one hand, he’s got The Graduate in the other, and the almost paralysing amount of opportunity offered by the cusp of adulthood. Sure, he has a “face like a dad”, and acknowledges the safety and warmth of grown-up life (“If I made a fool on the road… I can still come home to this”), but the sigh in his voice when he sings “I wouldn’t trade one stupid decision for another five years of life” contains a bullish attitude to his youthful follies that is a near-perfect combination of regret and fondness.
But perhaps what’s most affecting about All My Friends is that it feels so personal, despite its universality. This is a James Murphy soliloquy, delivered from a hipster dancefloor by an ageing man who, with every passing year, holds his friends that much more dear and rues and revels in his misspent youth. For all its poignancy though, All My Friends is ultimately uplifting – even if life is slowing, it once burnt brilliantly bright. And anyway, no man is a failure who has friends.

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