- 19 Jul 19
A wortthy tribute to Scott Hutchison.
The treacherous tendency to romanticise rock ’n roll suicides endures. It shouldn’t take a fresh tragedy to remind us that there is nothing glamorous about a young person cut down before their time, but that’s the way it has spun. Sadly, we received an updated memo on the subject last year with the death of Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison. 4
The angst of early adulthood and the often fruitless search for a higher purpose were a constant theme in his work. Frightened Rabbit could be uplifting and spirit-affirming, but a background hiss of despair was ever present. It was deeply shocking still, when, last summer, Hutchison (36) tweeted this goodbye message: “Be so good to everyone you love. It’s not a given. I’m so annoyed that it’s not. I didn’t live by that standard and it kills me. Please, hug your loved ones… I’m away now. Thanks.”
His body was discovered several days later. Now 12 months on, the remaining members of the band, including his younger brother, Grant Hutchison, have come together to honour their singer’s memory. It’s a tribute record with a difference: all the songs are from Frightened Rabbit’s The Midnight Organ Fight – the LP that established them, in 2008, as a singular voice in independent rock. As collections like this tend to be, it’s a little all over the place: Julien Baker strips down ‘The Modern Leper’ to its essence, while Biffy Clyro’s reading of the same song builds it up to a heart-on-sleeve rocker. Other heavyweights include the National’s Aaron Dessner and Chvrches Lauren Mayberry, who hold a candle together on the respectful ‘Who’d You Kill Now’.
Frightened Rabbit weren’t perfect and they made missteps. Their folkier songs could sound middle of the road – a tender point with Hutchison as I discovered when I asked him about it in 2009. This side of the group is acknowledged on ‘Old Old Fashioned’. Josh Ritter does his best, but there is an element of jaunty knees-up to it nonetheless.
Mistakes, you might reflect, are what make us human – and it was Hutchison’s humanity that burned brightly in the music of Frightened Rabbit. You can catch a powerful reflection of it here too, on an album that is both a fitting homage, and a reminder of what we lost.