The Collapsar publishes new poetry, fiction, and nonfiction every other month, and new culture writing weekly.

Fully Expressed: Nathan Knapp Remembers Scott Hutchison

Scott Hutchison is dead. He was found, apparently, by the River Forth. If you loved his music, you know the song.

He sang better about pain than almost anyone, and his voice, that breaking wonderful trembling Scottish tenor full of hope and hurt, is still with us, will remain with us. It’s a gift.

I just wish he wasn’t gone. Have been crying off and on for much of the afternoon. This one hits hard.

A lot of people say, repeatedly, that we need to talk more about mental illness. This is undeniably true. But Hutchison talked about it. God, he talked about it a lot, his own struggle is detailed in precise, utterly disarming detail on the albums he made with his band, Frightened Rabbit. He didn’t glamorize it.

I first found Scott’s music when I was twenty, in college and struggling with my own thoughts of wanting to kill myself. The songs of Midnight Organ Fight got me through a lot of dark nights. I’m thankful now. He put his pain in the music, which unvaryingly was about the struggle to go on, to get through, to honor the pain, to let it live, and to try to live anyway, to get through it, to celebrate life, to fucking “get old-fashioned” and dance. To leave “the rest at arm’s length.”

That album ended with the statement that he would “leave suicide for another year.” It was said as a gesture of hope. Hope that he would make it out. And maybe he did, for a time. I don’t know. Can’t know, as I didn’t know him personally.

But I do know that he was with me in my dark time. He was an artist who fully inhabited his art. There aren’t many better examples of being what Richard Ford calls “fully expressed” than The Midnight Organ Fight.

His voice and words filled my heart when I needed my heart filled. He didn’t try to tell me or anyone that the dark wasn’t there, but his music was, and remains, full of life. And now he’s left us. We’re so much the worse off for it.

He sang that while he was alive, “he’d make tiny changes to earth.” He changed me.

One of the best singers of our song—the human song—is gone. Will make no more music. No more songs. And yet what he did make will remain.

I feel so grateful to him for what he’s left behind. He made me less alone, and I know I’m not alone in that.

May he rest in peace.

 

 

If you or a loved one needs someone to talk to, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 24/7 toll free: 1-800-273-8255

 

 

...

Nathan Knapp is the co-founder of The Collapsar. 

Prescient Isn't Quite the Right Word: Michael T. Fournier Reviews The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer