Tread With Care: Remembering Scott Hutchison
In “Floating in the Forth”, Scott Hutchison of the Scottish indie rock band Frightened Rabbit, sings,
Fully clothed, I’ll float away
Down the Forth, into the sea
I think I’ll save suicide for another day
We hoped this “day” that Hutchison sang of would be indefinitely deferred. We wished that Hutchison’s life, which was accompanied by depression, would not have such a tragic end. But on May 11th, we learned that this day had come. The song’s meaning has forever been altered. We will never listen to it in the same way as before.
Hutchison’s musical career was characterized by a radical openness about his struggle with depression. In an interview with Noisey that was published just days before his passing, Hutchison described how he was feeling: “Pretty fine. Middling. On a day-to-day basis, I’m a solid six out of ten. I don’t know how often I can hope for much more than that. I’m drawn to negatives in life, and I dwell on them, and they consume me.”
Hutchison utilized music to explore the intersection of the beautiful and the tragic. He skillfully navigated the dark corners of life, embedding them in captivating and energizing melodies. In this sense, he exemplified Kierkegaard’s description of the poet:
What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music…. And people flock around the poet and say: “Sing again soon” – that is, “May new sufferings torment your soul but your lips be fashioned as before, for the cry would only frighten us, but the music, that is blissful.”
So many of us have found solace in the blissful music of Hutchison’s cries, and many more will continue to do so in the future. His art not only reminds us of the beauty that can be formed from tragedy, but also the delicacy with which we should approach the realities of life and death. In “Death Dream,” the opening song on Frightened Rabbit’s final album, Hutchison describes a dream in which he discovers the body of a loved one who’s taken their own life. The song ends with the refrain:
Death dreams I don’t forget,
It’s been a while since I dreamed this
Even now when I sleep I tread with care
Hutchison reminded us that when we encounter life, death, love, or loss, we are walking on sacred ground. And as we remember him, as we appreciate his life-giving art, as we mourn his passing, may we do so with the same solemnity.
Rest in Peace, Scott. When we encounter you, in your words, your lyrics, or even in our dreams, we’ll tread with care.
(If you or someone you know is in need of support, please contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit its website here.)