“Head Rolls Off” – Frightened Rabbit. It was a year ago tomorrow that, just after getting home from dropping my girls at school, the official news broke that Scott Hutchison’s body had been found floating in the Forth, as he had warned us about ten years earlier.
It’s been a tough year for me as a massive fan of Scott’s music, as I’ve documented a few times. There were the weeks after his death when I listened to his music non-stop in a state of emotional tumult. It was hard, but it was a way to try to come to terms with the death of someone I greatly admired.
Eventually, though, the songs became too painful to listen to. I took a break of nearly six months from listening to anything Scott did. It didn’t matter that Frightened Rabbit was my favorite band and there were so many warm feelings wrapped up in their music. Listening to them made me think of how much pain he must have been in before his death and the guilt those close to him must have felt for not knowing how to save him. That, in turn, made me think about my one close experience with suicide – which also came in early May, although 21 years ago – and how those of close to the victim still struggle to understand why he did it and how we failed him by not being able to see the signs or direct him down a different path.
Something else weird happened during this time. Back when I used to have to lay down with L to get her to go to sleep at night, I started listening to podcasts at night. It was an effort to stay awake while I waited for her to drift off. In practice I generally fell asleep, too. Once she could fall asleep without me, I kept listening to podcasts when I went to bed as I found it helped me conquer the bouts of insomnia I had battled my entire life.
During the late summer and early fall, twice I woke up in the middle of the night to hear hosts of podcasts talking about Scott and his death. Neither was strictly a music podcast, although one of the hosts is a musician. Those moments haunted me. It was like someone was telling me, “It’s not time to go back to his music yet.”
One night in January I finally decided to sit down and watch an entire Frightened Rabbit concert. It is a terrific show from July 2016 in front of an adoring Scottish crowd. It came right before Scott had one of several public meltdowns, so I assume he was in some state of mental fatigue. You wouldn’t know it by this performance, though, which is fantastic.
Watching that show changed something for me. I could finally listen to their music again. And while it took awhile to listen to it often, and then I still had a welling up of emotion, I was able to begin focusing on the positives. On how great the songs were. On how over a decade they gave me so much joy. I still get sad when I hear his songs, but that sadness is at least balanced.
I feel a little silly and ashamed admitting how much the death of a singer with substance abuse and mental health issues has affected me. As I’ve said many times, most of what Scott was singing about was totally foreign to my life. Yet I connected with his music and it became a huge part of my life.
I’m still very upset that he is gone, and sad that there will be no new Frightened Rabbit songs to get me through another decade of my life. But I am also thankful for the joy he gave so many of us who loved his music and that I’ve learned how to get beyond the pain to connect with his songs again.
You can mark my words
I’ll make changes to earth
While I’m alive, I’ll make tiny changes to earth