call the police

One of the most beloved songs on my Car Tunes playlist is the American rock band LCD Soundsystem’s dance-punk anthem, “call the police.”

Whenever this song comes on the car stereo system, I crank the volume and get lost in band member and co-founder of DFA Records James Murphy’s fantastic drum fills, as well as the slide guitar that appears in the intro and returns heartily at 2:52 into the song. (Murphy also sings, and plays guitar, bass guitar, piano, synthesizers on the piece.) The slide guitar reminds me a lot of the guitar effects and treatments on British musician, producer, author, theorist, and visual artist Brian Eno’s early 1970s works, before he dove headlong into the ambient genre he pioneered. And the aggressive bass guitar playing keeps time with the drumming to hold the whole thing together really nicely.

Aside from my thoughts on similarities, Murphy’s vocals have been compared to the music of David Bowie (1947-2016), and the guitar in his “Heroes” (from his 1977 album of the same name, part of the 1977-1979 “Berlin Trilogy,” accompanied by Low and Lodger). The song has also been compared to U2’s music. “call the police” is just so well played, it’s impossible not to want to play air guitar or drums to it with the stereo playing super loud, or even when driving (at stoplights only, of course…).

I think the song is a rather cynical commentary on our times and the extremist, exclusionary and hate-stoking politics that have developed in recent years, moving “like a virus and entering our skin.” Often police are called in to manage violent crowds whipped up by political figures consumed by lust for power at any cost (a cost usually borne by the ill-informed and socioeconomically disadvantaged whom these so-called leaders pander to and seek idolization from).

“We all, we all, we all, we all know this is nothing
We all, we all, we all, we all know this is nothing
We all, we all, we all, we all know this is nothing
This is nowhere
We all, we all, we all, we all know this is nowhere
There is no one
Here

It moves like a virus and enters our skin
The first sign divides us, the second is moving to Berlin
But that’s not the state I’m in
The air is thin but that’s not the state

The old guys are frightened and frightening to behold
Their heads come out fighting and still doing what they’re told
But you’re waking a monster that will drive you from your orioles of gold
And your body will get cold

And we don’t waste time with love
It’s just death from above

Your head is on fire, your hands are getting weak
We all, we all get stupid in the heat
You’ve basted your brains with the shatter and defeat up on the street
And this is nowhere

The early years were boring
The quiet, unhappy punk
See mother was a cripple and my father was a drunk but gentle man
So we do the best we can

This is the plan
Wear your makeup like a man

’Cause we don’t waste time with love
Yeah, we don’t waste time with love
It’s just a push and a shove

Well, there’s a full-blown rebellion but you’re easy to confuse
By triggered kids and fakers and some questionable views
Oh, call the cops, call the preachers!
Before they let us and they lose

When oh, we all start arguing the history of the Jews
You got nothing left to lose
Gives me the blues

And we don’t waste time with love
And we don’t waste time with love

So call the police
Yeah, call the police
Yeah, call the police
Yeah, call the police
Yeah, call the police
Yeah, call the police
Just chase the cops
Yeah, call the police
You’re crazy, man
Yeah, call ’em up
Just call the police
The first in line
They’re gonna eat the rich”

(“call the police,” by Al Doyle, James Murphy.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

“call the police” was released as a single and as part of LCD Soundsystem’s fourth studio album, american dream, in 2017.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from the band’s official YouTube channel:

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