An Ode To Mac DeMarco’s ‘Salad Days’ (10 Years Anniversary)

Mac DeMarco’s ‘Salad Days’ turns 10 years old this year. While it feels like only yesterday, this masterpiece has maintained its place in many people’s hearts and record collections.

Before the Rock & Roll (Night Club)

Whether you know Mac from TikTok during lockdown or Finn Wolfhard’s band Calpurnia covering ‘My Kind of Woman’, he undeniably became a staple in any 2014 Tumblr user’s Spotify playlist and has stayed there ever since.

The Canadian star found himself in a myriad of bands while growing up. Now putting the guitar lessons from his grandmother to good use, he found his space in music. However, before he became Mac DeMarco as we know him, he released his first self-produced album while a part of Makeout Videotape. After signing with Captured Tracks, his solo career started. At the same time, his classic red socks and gapped smile became a solid part of every music lover’s life.

Reflection and Recordings

While ‘Salad Days’ was the aftermath of the hustle and bustle of tour life, Mac wanted to show the world that he felt bummed out. The stunning album truly captures the essence of dedication to his art, accompanied by a down-to-earth tone. Additionally, It was a continuation of the brilliance he had showcased in his previous works, ‘Rock and Roll Night Club’ and ‘2’. Ultimately, he didn’t want to stray too far from the sound he had been performing. Otherwise, he was summing up the musical stories that swam around his head. Due to all this, he felt like he had miraculously grown up when he returned from tour. Immediately taking this newfound feeling, he looked inward and wrote about what he knew.

The easily recognisable ‘Chamber Of Reflection’ reflects the process of writing the acclaimed album in the best way. The song samples the Japanese electone player Sekitō Shigeo’s composition ‘Word 2’, and is a clear reference to a Freemasonry concept. The chamber of reflection is a chance to look at your past and how you can move on from it. Although his chamber happened to be in a home studio in Brooklyn, New York, it worked all the same. If there is one thing about the sensational musician’s sound that should intrigue you the most, it’s his creative process. Filled with the chaos of synth sounds on every device you can think of to straight-up ‘garbage’.

Much like this process, the beautiful naked truth of ‘Let My Baby Stay’ shows some of his softer workings. It is depicted in a fearful tale about how his long-term girlfriend Kiera “Kiki” could be deported back to Canada after the two moved to America. This love song is one that will always hold a special place in my heart. With such pure dedication of fear and love, it remains one of my favourites.

An ode to Mac DeMarco

To me, every time I hear ‘Salad Days’, I am transported to the point in my life where I heard it first. I think most, if not all, of us have had the dreaded indie phase. Mine was brimming with Topshop mom jeans, frilly socks, and battered Adidas superstars. In and amongst the time I claimed, I could only listen to The Stone Roses and Catfish and the Bottlemen. I found the real part of myself in Mac DeMarco’s music. Meanwhile, as I figured out how my life would look at 14, this album had become a safe space for me to do so.

One of the first times I had fully felt seen in music was in ‘Blue Boy’. Something about the lulling guitar plucks became an almost meditative sound for me. Whilst I’ve always found myself worrying about things that may or may not happen, somehow a passive and humorous ‘Calm down, sweetheart, grow up,’ became a mantra.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mac in 2019. Luckily my mum has a habit of getting lost in places. I say this is lucky because we ended up around the back of the venue after the gig. As we drove past his tour bus, I practically dove out of the moving car, just like that scene in Ladybird. Then, in a nervous attempt to act cool as we waited in line to speak to him, I made chit-chat with people I’d only ever seen on Instagram.

When I finally got to speak to him, I just introduced him to my mum out of nerves. When people say never meet your heroes, I tell them this story just to prove them wrong. We spoke for so long about Prince, and he signed the jeans I had painted the ‘This Old Dog’ album cover on. However, as he scribbled on my leg, I couldn’t help but realise that all this time I had spent sitting in my bedroom with my window wide open thinking of all the things I could be, along with his music blaring into my neighbour’s gardens, here I was having a completely normal conversation with him.

Myself and Mac

Without Mac’s music and especially without ‘Salad Days’, I truly believe the way I view music would be undeniably different. For that, I am forever grateful that the most important moments of my life were soundtracked by Mac DeMarco.

Listen to ‘Salad Days‘ below. You can read more anniversary pieces like this one here.

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