Tuesday, October 18, 1988

Sonic Youth Daydream Nation released

Daydream Nation

Sonic Youth

Released: October 18, 1988

Peak: -- US, 99 UK, -- CN, -- AU

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: alternative rock


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to charts.

  1. Teen Age Riot (12/24/88, 20 MR)
  2. Silver Rocket (9/88, --)
  3. The Sprawl
  4. ‘Cross the Breeze
  5. Eric’s Trip
  6. Total Trash
  7. Hey Joni
  8. Providence (1989, --)
  9. Candle (10/89, --)
  10. Rain King
  11. Kissability
  12. Trilogy: a) The Wonder
  13. Trilogy: b) The Hyperstation
  14. Trilogy: c) Eliminator Jr.

Total Running Time: 70:47

The Players:

  • Thurston Moore (vocals, guitar, piano)
  • Kim Gordon, bass, guitar, vocals)
  • Lee Ranaldo (guitar, vocals)
  • Steve Shelley (drums)


3.961 out of 5.00 (average of 18 ratings)


“A masterpiece of post-punk art rock.” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


(Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Daydream Nation is the fifth studio album by the American alternative rock band Sonic Youth,” WK “the essential New York rock band of the post-punk era.” DW “Widely considered to be the band's magnum opus and a seminal influence to the alternative rock genre,” WK it “has risen in stature to become one of the most highly-regarded albums of the 1980s, receiving much critical acclaim and appearing on many ‘Best-of’ lists.” WK “It is one of the few rock albums chosen by the Library of Congress to be preserved in the National Recording Registry.” WK

“Sonic Youth care as much about the quasi-symphonic, microtonal art-guitar music of composers like Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca as they do about the rock-song form, and with Daydream Nation, they struck their greatest balance between the two.” DW

“Sonic Youth’s standard songwriting method involved [singer Thurston] Moore bringing in melody ideas and chord changes, which the band would spend several months fashioning into full-length songs. However, instead of paring the songs down as the group usually did, the months-long writing process for Daydream Nation resulted in long jams, some a half hour long. Several friends of the band, including Henry Rollins, had long praised the band’s long live improvisations and told the group that its records never captured that aspect. With Moore on a writing spree, the album ultimately had to be expanded to a double album.” WK

“Though the self-conscious sprawl of the album might appear self-indulgent on the surface, Daydream Nation is powered by a sustained vision, one that encapsulates all of the group’s quirks and strengths. Alternating between tense, hypnotic instrumental passages and furious noise explosions, the music demonstrates a range of emotions and textures, and in many ways, it's hard not to listen to the record as one long piece of shifting dynamics.” STEDaydream Nation demonstrates the extent to which noise and self-conscious avant art can be incorporated into rock, and the results are nothing short of stunning.” STE This is “a masterpiece of post-punk art rock.” STE

“The songs hover gorgeously for extended lengths, letting guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo intertwine fragile tonalities as carefully as it’s possible to do at wall-shaking volume, while Moore and bassist Kim Gordon’s untutored voices disaffectedly intone words that flirt with pop stupidity, high-art eloquence, and urban cool. When they bear down and rock, they do it with a blurry intensity that finds gorgeousness at the heart of discord.” DW

Amongst the album’s gems are “the anti-anthem of Teen Age Riot and the punky Silver Rocket to the hazy drug dreams of ‘Providence’ and the rolling waves of Eric’s Trip.” STE The latter “has lyrics pertaining to Eric Emerson’s LSD-fueled monologue in the Andy Warhol movie Chelsea Girls.” WK

“Some of the band’s more experimental tendencies are on display in the musique concrete piece Providence. The song consists of a piano solo by Thurston Moore recorded at his mother’s house using a Walkman, the sound of an amp overheating and a pair of telephone messages left by Mike Watt, calling for Moore from a Providence, Rhode Island payphone, dubbed over one another. Oddly, it was released as a single, and a single-shot music video was even filmed for it.” WK

The Sprawl was inspired by the works of science fiction writer William Gibson, who used the term to refer to a future mega-city stretching from Boston to Atlanta. The lyrics for the first verse were lifted from the novel The Stars at Noon by Denis Johnson.” WK

Cross the Breeze features some of Kim Gordon’s most intense singing, with such lyrics as, ‘Let’s go walking on the water/ Now you think I’m Satan’s daughter/ I wanna know, should I stay or go?/ I took a look into your hate/ It made me feel very up to date’.” WK WK

Hey Joni is titled as a tribute to rock standard ‘Hey Joe’ and to Canadian singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell. It is sung by Lee Ranaldo, and has surrealist lyrics such as, ‘Shots ring out from the center of an empty field/ Joni’s in the tall grass/ She’s a beautiful mental jukebox, a sailboat explosion/ A snap of electric whipcrack’. This song also alludes to the works of William Gibson with the line ‘In this broken town, can you still jack in/ And know what to do?’” WK

“These feature similarly on Lee’s two other songs on the album, the rarely-played Rain King – an homage to Pere Ubu and perhaps Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King – and the aforementioned ‘Eric’s Trip’.” WK

“The closing track Eliminator Jr. was thus titled because the band felt it sounded like a cross between Dinosaur Jr. and Eliminator-era ZZ Top. It was given part ‘z’ in the Trilogy both as a reference to ZZ Top and because it is the closing piece on the disc.” WK

“Sonic Youth elected to record Daydream Nation at New York’s Greene Street basement studio. The studio’s engineer, Nick Sansano, was accustomed to working with hip hop artists. Sansano did not know much about Sonic Youth, but he was aware the band had an aggressive sound, so when the band checked out the studio, he showed the band members his work on Public Enemy’s ‘Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos’ and Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock’s ‘It Takes Two’.” WK

“The album’s title comes from a lyric in Hyperstation,” WK but “was nearly titled Tonight’s the Day, from a lyric in Candle. This was also meant as a reference to Neil Young’s LP Tonight’s the Night.” WK “The album cover features the 1983 Gerhard Richter photorealist painting Kerze (‘Candle’). The back cover art is a similar Richter painting from 1982.” WK “The LP’s 4 sides and the CD itself featured four symbols on the disc representing the four members of the band, similar to the symbols of Led Zeppelin IV. The symbols featured are infinity, female, upper case omega, and a drawing of a demon/angel holding drumsticks.” WK


A 2007 deluxed edition “contains live versions of every track on the album, plus studio recordings of some cover songs.” WK

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First posted 7/25/2010; last updated 10/5/2023.

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