LCD Soundsystem with Arcade Fire - "North American Scum" live at Madison Square Garden (4/2/11)





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Published on Apr 4, 2011

So this is when it really started going ape shit. James Murphy (kinda) introduces 4 members of (Grammy Award Winning) Arcade Fire. The crowd is nuts during the chorus... and singing extra lyrics during the verses.

From the excellent Pitchfork song by song write-up:
- - - -
A-side of the DFA single "North American Scum"; 2007
From the album Sound of Silver; 2007
Written by James Murphy
James Murphy: drums, vocals, organ, programming, percussion, handclaps, guitar, bass
Tyler Pope: bass
Eric Broucek: handclaps
Marcus Lambkin: handclaps
Nancy Whang: vocals

American pride took a helluva beating in the mid-2000s, whether you were a red-state hawk supporting what turned out to be a groundless invasion of WMD-free Iraq, or a blue-stater aghast at the poisonous effect that the Bush administration's arrogance had on the USA's international image. As such, Americans touring abroad often found themselves in the position of having to answer for a government they didn't vote for, and a culture of superiority they didn't necessarily ascribe to.

"North American Scum" marks James Murphy's first foray into the realms of observational, on-the-road songwriting and political commentary, as it recounts his own experiences with presumptuous Europeans casting judgment upon his citizenry. However, the song isn't necessarily about Murphy proudly embracing his "scum" status in the same manner gay people have transformed "queer" from a slur into a badge of honor; as he explained to Clash last year, its underlying message is that "Americans are [as] insecure and embarrassed" as anyone else.

Fittingly, the sonic terrain laid out here is distinctly European-- the opening organ drone and tick-tock synthetic beat are obvious nods to Can's Ege Bamyasi track "Spoon", and by the time the song hits its caterwauling chorus, bassist Tyler Pope has locked into the motorik pulse of the Can classic "Mother Sky". (The repeated "North America" refrain, meanwhile, hews closely to that of Buzzcock Pete Shelley's 1981 new-wave nugget "Homosapien".) But, for all its spot-the-reference appropriations, "North American Scum" is a distinctly Murphy creation in its combination of bravado and neuroses. It's a statement of a proud American who refuses to let his country's bad reputation sully his own personal patriotism, but who's also not too conceited to admit that Europe has the U.S. beat hands down when it comes to after-hours party action. Murphy and Eric Broucek's epic, abstract "Scum" overhaul-- aka the cheekily titled "Onanistic Dub"-- jump offs from this thread; aside from a few samples of Nancy Whang's "North America!" holler, the only connection the remix has to its source material is that it's precisely the sort of heady acid-house excursion that you'd hear at one of those parties in Spain or Berlin where they go all night. --Stuart Berman


  • Category

  • License

    • Standard YouTube License
  • Song

  • Artist

  • Album

    • North American Scum
  • Licensed by

    • WMG (on behalf of PLG UK Catalog); UMPI, Kobalt Music Publishing, AMRA, and 12 Music Rights Societies


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