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Daydream Nation is the sixth studio album by the American alternative rock band Sonic Youth. It was released in October 1988 by Enigma Records in the United States, and by Blast First in the United Kingdom.


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". Although Sansano was wary about how the rock band would react, the group embraced the sound of the records. Sonic Youth booked three weeks of recording time at Greene Street's Studio A that would start in mid-July 1988. At $1000 a day, it was the most the band had paid to record an album up to that point, but among its advantages was its proximity to where members Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, and Lee Ranaldo lived.

Due to the amount of preparation the band put into composing its music, the recording process was largely efficient. The session became rushed near the end, as Paul Smith, head of the band's British label Blast First, had set a mastering date of August 18. As a result of the time pressure, Gordon was not happy with some of her resulting vocal takes. The band spent a whole night creating a final mix for the three-song "Trilogy" so it could be mastered the following morning. The record ultimately cost $30,000, which led Moore to refer to the album as "our first non-econo record".


Sonic Youth's standard songwriting method involved 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.

"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 Bostonmarker to Atlantamarker. The lyrics for the first verse were lifted from the novel The Stars at Noon by Denis Johnson. "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”. "Eric's Trip" has lyrics pertaining to Eric Emerson's LSD-fueled monologue in the Andy Warhol movie Chelsea Girls.

"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?” 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".

The album's title comes from a lyric in "Hyperstation", and 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.

The album 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.

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 Islandmarker payphone, dubbed over one another. Oddly, it was released as a single, and a single-shot music video was even filmed for it.


The album cover features the 1983 Gerhard Richter photorealist painting Kerze ("Candle"). The back cover art is a similar Richter painting from 1982.

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.


Daydream Nation was released October 1988 on compact disc, cassette double vinyl. Daydream Nation did not chart in the United Statesmarker but reached number 99 on the UK Album Charts. The single "Teen Age Riot" charted on Billboard Magazine's newly created Modern Rock Tracks chart at number 20.

The deluxe edition of Daydream Nation was released in 2007. It contains live versions of every track on the album, plus studio recordings of some cover songs. A 4-LP vinyl version was released on July 17, 2007.

Critical reception

In the years following its release, Daydream Nation 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. It was ranked #1 on Pitchfork's "Top 100 Albums of the 1980s", #14 on Spin's "100 Greatest Albums, 1985–2005", and #45 on Rolling Stone magazine's "100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s". In 2003, the album was ranked number 329 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2006, it was one of 50 recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congressmarker to be added to the National Recording Registry.


Since its release, Daydream Nation has featured heavily in various "must have" lists compiled by the music media. Some of the more prominent of these lists to feature Daydream Nation are shown below; this information is adapted from

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Guitarist UK 101 Essential Guitar Albums 2000 #11
Alternative Press U.S. Top 99 Albums of 1985 to 1995 1995 #51
Blender U.S. 500 CDs You Must Own Before You Die 2003 *
Q UK The 80 Best Records of the 80s 2006 #30
Spin U.S. 100 Alternative Albums 1995 #9
Pitchfork Media U.S. Top 100 Albums of the 1980s 2002 #1
Rolling Stone U.S. The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 2003 #329

( * ) designates lists which are unordered.

Track listing

All songs written by Sonic Youth.

  1. "Teen Age Riot" (lyrics/vocals Moore, Gordon intro vocals) – 6:57
  2. "Silver Rocket" (lyrics/vocals Moore) – 3:47
  3. "The Sprawl" (lyrics/vocals Gordon) – 7:42
  4. "'Cross the Breeze" (lyrics/vocals Gordon) – 7:00
  5. "Eric's Trip" (lyrics/vocals Ranaldo) – 3:48
  6. "Total Trash" (lyrics/vocals Moore) – 7:33
  7. "Hey Joni" (lyrics/vocals Ranaldo) – 4:23
  8. "Providence" (vocals Mike Watt) – 2:41
  9. "Candle" (lyrics/vocals Moore) – 4:58
  10. "Rain King" (lyrics/vocals Ranaldo) – 4:39
  11. "Kissability" (lyrics/vocals Gordon) – 3:08
  12. Trilogy: – 14:02†
    • a) "The Wonder" (lyrics/vocals Moore) – 4:15
    • b) "Hyperstation" (lyrics/vocals Moore) – 7:13
    • z) "Eliminator Jr." (lyrics/vocals Gordon) – 2:37
†Some releases separate the parts of "Trilogy".

Deluxe edition

Disc One

  1. "Teen Age Riot" – 6:57
  2. "Silver Rocket" – 3:47
  3. "The Sprawl" – 7:42
  4. "'Cross the Breeze" – 7:00
  5. "Eric's Trip" – 3:48
  6. "Total Trash" – 7:33
  7. "Hey Joni" – 4:23
  8. "Providence" – 2:41
  9. "Candle" – 4:58
  10. "Rain King" – 4:39
  11. "Kissability" – 3:08
  12. "Trilogy: The Wonder" – 4:15
  13. "Trilogy: Hyperstation" – 7:13
  14. "Trilogy: Eliminator Jr." – 2:37
  15. "Eric's Trip" (Home Demo) - 2:27

Disc Two

Live Daydream
  1. "The Sprawl" - 8:27
  2. "'Cross the Breeze" - 5:54
  3. "Hey Joni" - 3:38
  4. "Silver Rocket" - 4:19
  5. "Kissability" - 2:19
  6. "Eric's Trip" - 3:05
  7. "Candle" - 5:04
  8. "The Wonder" - 4:02
  9. "Hyperstation" - 6:14
  10. "Eliminator Jr." - 2:38
  11. "Providence" - 1:47
  12. "Teen Age Riot" - 4:37
  13. "Rain King" - 4:06
  14. "Totally Trashed" - 1:57
  15. "Total Trash" - 5:18
Bonus cover songs
  1. "Within You Without You" (Harrison) - 4:58
  2. "Touch Me I'm Sick" (Mudhoney) - 2:33
  3. "Computer Age" (Young) - 5:12
  4. "Electricity" (Van Vliet/Bermann) - 2:46


All information is taken from the CD.

Album charts

Year Album Chart Position
1988 Daydream Nation Official UK Albums Chart 99

Charting singles

Year Song Chart Position
1988 Teen Age Riot Modern Rock Tracks (US) 20


  • Browne, David. Goodbye 20th Century: A Biography of Sonic Youth. Da Capo, 2008. ISBN 978-0-306-81515-7
  • Stearns, Matthew. Daydream Nation. Continuum, 2007. (33⅓) ISBN 082641740X


  1. Browne, p. 173-74
  2. Browne, p. 175
  3. Browne, p. 177
  4. Browne, p. 178
  5. Browne, p. 175-76
  6. Daydream Nation booklet and liner notes
  7. Strong, 1998. p.768
  8. Daydream Nation booklet and liner notes
  9. Warwick, 2004. p.1021
  1. Browne, p. 173-74
  2. Browne, p. 175
  3. Browne, p. 177
  4. Browne, p. 178
  5. Browne, p. 175-76
  6. Daydream Nation booklet and liner notes
  7. Strong, 1998. p.768
  8. Daydream Nation booklet and liner notes
  9. Warwick, 2004. p.1021

External links

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