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The Scott Hutchison Song I Won’t Forget

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On Thursday evening, the Scottish police confirmed the identity of a body found near the Forth Road Bridge, in Port Edgar, Queensferry. Scott Hutchison, the vocalist and guitarist in the Scottish indie-rock band Frightened Rabbit, was declared dead at thirty-six. Two days earlier, Hutchison had posted a vague and melancholy farewell to his Twitter account: “I’m away now. Thanks.” His distraught bandmates had implored their fans to mobilize, asking anyone with information about his whereabouts to immediately contact the authorities. On Friday morning, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, expressed condolences, for both her electorate and the world. She described Hutchison as “a remarkable and much-loved talent.”

Hutchison had struggled with mental-health issues for years. His family released a statement: “Depression is a horrendous illness that does not give you any alert or indication as to when it will take hold of you.” Hutchison wrote often about the tedium and senselessness of his disease, its strange edges: “I woke up hurting, but I can’t quite say why,” he sings in “Woke Up Hurting,” from the band’s most recent album, “Painting of a Panic Attack.” Plenty of artists have worked to articulate, personify, unpack, vanquish, lament, or merely loosen the grip of their own suffering, but sadness is such a difficult thing to express with precision—it has no contours, no purchase. Still, Hutchison was a deft and nuanced lyricist. He gave shape to his struggles. “Woke Up Hurting” opens with a sharp portrait of depression’s relentlessness, the way it can suddenly reanimate itself:

Daybreak comes with the devil’s hum
A carcass starts to breathe
Wakes one more time to try and find
A place to count its teeth

Frightened Rabbit formed in Selkirk, a historic town in the Scottish Borders, in 2003—first as a solo vehicle for Hutchison’s songwriting, then as a duo with his brother Grant, and, eventually, as a full five-man band. Musically, the group felt of a piece with other Scottish indie-pop acts: Belle and Sebastian, Franz Ferdinand, Camera Obscura. But Frightened Rabbit was virtuosic when it came to expressing the odd anxieties of an early, hungover morning, when a person wakes up and has to reckon with herself, again—the relentless ennui of being, and being, and being, and being. The band released five full-length LPs between 2006 and 2016. While each had a particular sonic character, they were united chiefly by Hutchison’s presence. Nearly everything he wrote


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