Losing My Edge

The other day, whilst looking for validation on the internet, I shared LCD Soundsystem’s ‘Losing My Edge’ in my Instagram stories with the caption: “I firmly believe that you have to be in your 30s to truly appreciate LCD Soundsystem”. Two people with great taste in their 30s responded with clapping hands (one even came through with a HARD AGREE), and my girlfriend with great taste who is in her 20s respond with, “Lol, I love LCD Soundsystem.”

Now, in my 20s, movie and TV soundtracks informed me that LCD Soundsystem was cool as fuck. They were on the soundtrack to pretty much any decent TV show aimed at moody young white adults. Like, Gossip Girl played LCD Soundsystem multiple times and Gossip Girl genuinely has one of the most iconic soundtracks to any TV show. Not to mention The O.C, Gilmore Girls, Friday Night Lights, and if I remember correctly (I do) they even featured on the Misfits soundtrack- meaning even young people in Britain were put on to LCD Soundsystem. So I’m not saying that you can’t be a teenager or in your 20s and enjoy LCD Soundsystem. Fucking Tyler The Creator put LCD Soundsystem on a mix back in the day. Like, if you’re young and you dig LCD Soundsystem, congrats on your great taste and I hope you keep coming back to them over and over again for many years to come. Especially in your 30s. Because trust me, it’s going to hit different. 

James Murphy was 32 when he released ‘Losing My Edge’, his first single as LCD Soundsystem. I was 15. When James was 15, he was playing in bands with friends and showed promise as a musician. I, too, was in bands when I was 15. I, however, showed no promise as a musician. James later went to college to study English but dropped out because he wanted to pursue a career in music. Apparently, he was also offered a writing job on Seinfeld before it blew up and he said “no” because he wanted to pursue music. He turned down opportunity after opportunity to follow his dream. The only problem was, he never actually made any music. He spent most of his 20s drifting about because, by his own admission, he was so scared of failing he didn’t even try.

Now, I didn’t go to varsity or get offered life-changing writing jobs, but I did fuck around for… I’m gonna say “a while”. And I would regularly call myself a writer, but I was a bartender who didn’t write. I’ve got nothing but love for bartenders, they provide an incredibly valuable service, but it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. The thing was, I was too fucking scared to do the thing I wanted to do because “what if nobody liked it”. Which is missing the entire point of doing the thing in the first place. You do it because it’s what you want to do. Not even want, need. Because you feel fucking empty and deeply unsatisfied with your life until you actually just do that unresolved thing that’s gnawing away at your happiness. At least that’s been my experience. 

Murphy started to get it together after he realised he’d wasted so much time already and sought help from a psychiatrist. Dr George Kamen helped him so much he went on to dedicate his second album to him and wrote ‘Someone Great‘ about their relationship. But I’m getting ahead of things. He spent his late 20s throwing cool as fuck parties in New York and making a name for himself as a DJ before going on to found Death From Above Records with Tim Goldsworthy and Jonathan Galkin in 2001. A bit closer to the original goal of being a musician, but still not really doing the thing. Still, he was cool now. People liked him. He was a tastemaker. And he was making records, even if they weren’t his own. Then he went to someone else’s jol and some snot-nosed punk (my words, not his) was playing “his music”. Not the music he had made, of course, but his track selections. And he KNEW that kid had been to one of his parties. His style was bitten. Jacked. No longer uniquely his. And it fucked with him. He knew he didn’t really have a right to be upset, but yet he was.

So, he wrote a song about it. A song that blurs the lines between sardonic and sincere. That describes what it’s like to no longer feel special, cool, and unique, whilst still trying to cling to some semblance of relevance. The kind of song you can only really write in your early 30s. Murphy takes the piss out of his own self-importance and the pretentiousness of claiming you were there for all the cool shit, whilst also sharing genuine fears that the kids are now breathing down his neck, about to overtake him. It’s fucking brilliant. And his friends didn’t like it. His label mates thought it was a mistake. They had even convinced James to release it as the B-Side to ‘Beat Connection‘ but Murphy made a last-minute call to put out ‘Losing My Edge’ as the single under the monicker LCD Soundsystem.

LCD Soundystem's album cover for their self-titled album, featuring a photocopied picture of a disco ball.

At 32, he’d finally done the thing he’d been avoiding for so long. And while his friends might have thought it sucked, a lot of other people did not. The song garnered critical acclaim and spread way further than the couple thousand copies that were printed, thanks to internet piracy. Since then, LCD Soundsystem has released some of the most significantly influential music of this century so far and James Murphy has worked with David Fucking Bowie among many other names. By creating Losing My Edge, James Murphy found his.

Now, I’m 33, and I can’t stop listening to this song that was made 18 years ago. Because I get it now, man. (You better have imagined that in Marc Maron’s voice or we can’t be friends). I get what it’s like to feel relevant and cool after floundering about for years as a nobody. And I get what it’s like to feel like a nobody after a couple of years of being relevant and cool. That all the stupid shit you took pride in is actually pretty irrelevant and that you will be replaced by someone younger, better looking, and more talented. I now get what it’s like to feel like you’re losing your edge. But how could I be losing my edge when I haven’t even found it yet?

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