England - Full Moon 83 - 07/13/03
Life, Music, Death
17 June 1971 - 25 June 2003
The first song I heard after the death of my beloved friend Dom was "Hunted by a freak" by
Mogwai, from their new Happy Songs for Happy People album.
There was something that compelled me as I left the health clinic on Friday evening. I had an
acupuncture appointment but received no needles - it being only two days after receiving the
tragic news of Dom's death, Andrew my acupuncturist felt treatment was too 'brutal' considering
what had happened.
Instead I went into Trading Post, one of the two independent record shops in Stroud, and asked
Simon whether there was anything new out that he could recommend. And before he could even name
an album I was asking for the new Mogwai CD. I took the disc, went to fetch the silver case from
the racks, and then put the large comfortable headphones on my head.
I remembered hearing Rock Action in that same shop, same CD player, same set of
high-quality headphones, two years before. I was stoned then, lost, but always eager, as ever, to
absorb myself with new music. This time I was sober as a judge, feeling decidedly confused and
"Hunted by a freak", despite the terrible title, is an example of exactly what is still so
great about Mogwai, and touched me more than I can explain. In the same way as my friend Dom made
my life feel more exciting, fun and full of love, this piece of music made me understand the
mysteries of life that little bit more.
I bought the CD straight away, telling Simon, 'This is exactly what I'm looking for.' For the
first few days of owning it I could listen to nothing but this first excellent track, anxious that
the rest of the disc may not compare. Now I've listened to the whole CD I can confirm that the
rest of the album is good, but "Hunted by a freak" remains my favourite, perhaps simply because
it was the first piece of music I heard after Dom's death.
It was on Wednesday 25 June, 8am that I heard the news. I heard Dom's wife Kat in the flat
upstairs sobbing, but my first instinct was that they were fighting - my fiancé Sam and I
had experienced Kat and Dom's fights before, and we knew that they could become pretty tempestuous.
When a police officer in a fluorescent yellow jacket knocked on our back door all I could think
was that someone had complained about the volume of their argument.
But they had not been arguing. The policeman told me the news: Dom had been killed in a car
accident on the way to work. Sam came into the room and we both cried together, shuddering in
disbelief as tears rolled down our cheeks, the policeman only able to stand by and make awkward
smalltalk. We accompanied him upstairs to see Kat, and two of the saddest, strangest days of my
It's now nearly a week later, and the Luna Kafe reviews I was going to write - a guide to
Califone, a review of some homemade CDs from Cloud Recordings, a couple of reviews of some
independent discs - have been the last thing on my mind. I'm here alluding to the new Mogwai album,
but can I advise you to buy it? I don't know. If you like Mogwai, perhaps. I can't untangle the
circumstances of this past week from the music.
And that's part of what I love about Dom. He taught me that there's not just life, and music
as a soundtrack. Music is life. It's listening. It's relating. It's communicating. My oldest,
closest friend Mark, who also played in a band with Dom and I, wrote a poem about Dom and listening,
and how the way he listened was magical. And how he gave us his songs while also giving our own
songs back to us in the way he heard them, recorded them, and played along with them.
I remember vividly how he nodded along to Circulatory System, eyes closed, just soaking up the
sound. How he tapped his foot when he played guitar. And how he sang.
At his funeral we will be playing "Joy" and "The Lovely Universe" by Circulatory System, and
we will remember a beautiful man who will be missed by so many people.
Dom, we will always love you.
Copyright © 2003 Tim Clarke