Sylvia Borgo: Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit Celebrated Two Years After Death

Scott Hutchison - image by Sylvia Borgo
Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit - image by Sylvia Borgo

Photos and Words by SYLVIA BORGO

It’s May. And I find myself thinking a lot about Scott Hutchison.

Well, in all honesty, I think about Scott a lot. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t listen to Frightened Rabbit. Hutchison, the lead singer of Scottish band Frightened Rabbit, took his own life on May 9, 2018. He’s been gone two years.

I woke up on May 10th and reached for my phone to check email, Instagram, and Twitter. It was on Twitter that I saw Scott’s last two tweets, “Be so good to everyone you love. It’s not a given. I’m so annoyed that it’s not. I didn’t live by that standard and it kills me. Please, hug your loved ones. // I’m away now. Thanks.” I knew. I just knew.

Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit - Photo by Sylvia Borgo
Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit – Photo by Sylvia Borgo

“I’ll stow away my greys
In a padlocked case in a padlocked room”

Just months earlier I had been in Chicago’s Thalia Hall for the first and the second night of Frightened Rabbit’s 10th-anniversary tour of their groundbreaking album, The Midnight Organ Fight. It had been an incredible performance. If you were ever in attendance at one of FR’s shows, you know they were one of the very best bands on stage. And off stage, too. After the show, I met the band and had a short conversation with Scott, about how glamorous it was to do laundry on tour. We joked about how I’d be their tour photographer on the next tour. But The Midnight Organ Fight Anniversary Tour would be the last tour that the band would make. Scott was gone three months later.

Scott Hutchison at Thalia Hall - Photo by Sylvia Borgo
Scott Hutchison at Thalia Hall – Photo by Sylvia Borgo

The Midnight Organ Fight is one of my favorite albums of all time. It’s right up there with other seminal albums that have been revered by many; Radiohead’s OK Computer, Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and In The Aeroplane Over The Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel. What is it about a band that makes you glom on to them within the first 30 seconds of their first song? What is it about an album that makes you listen to it from beginning to end without stopping, without moving, just letting the world swirl around you as you finish the story of the songs? The Midnight Organ Fight has been the shoulder that many turned to cry on. I’m not exaggerating when I say that TMOF has saved many, many lives.

“And while I’m alive, I’ll make tiny changes to earth”

“Am I ready to leap
Is there peace beneath”

TMOF has been characterized as a breakup album. It documents the end of a relationship. Scott doesn’t write about the breakup romantically. He is just frank. Raw. Blatant. Scott was a poet. I rank his lyrics as profound as other great songwriters, Bob Dylan, Jason Isbell, Joni Mitchell. TMOF explores the pain, the depression, the confusion, the suffering that follows the end of a relationship. The songs walk a fine line – they explore the tension between doing what you know is right and not quite keeping it together enough to actually follow through, not being able to put one foot in front of the other. Haven’t we all been there?

Scott Hutchison remembered two years after death - Photo by Sylvia Borgo
Scott Hutchison remembered two years after death – Photo by Sylvia Borgo

I think about Scott Hutchison a lot. I think about the tragic loss. I know I’m not alone. And sometimes when I think about how much I miss him, even though I didn’t know him for more than 78 minutes of my entire life, I feel selfish. I feel selfish that I feel so much sadness and pain.

He had a family after all. He had brothers, a mother, a father, nieces, a nephew. He had friends. He was beloved. So, I feel selfish about missing him so much and about missing all the future opportunities to see him and the band again and again on stage. I will forever miss his energy, his wit, his profanity, his genuine warmth for his fans. With no hope of ever seeing the band perform live again, or bumping into Scott after a concert, the only thing I can say is that I will continue to sing TMOF’s praises to anyone who will listen. It is a beautiful album, honest in pain, foul-mouthed, and funny. Just like Scott.