From The Desk Of Frightened Rabbit: Oliver Sacks

Frightened Rabbit bandleader Scott Hutchison knew that he was sinking into an abyss—mentally, emotionally, even spiritually—after the 2013 release of Pedestrian Verse, the Scottish group’s breakthrough album. But he couldn’t gauge the true depth of his situation until he began seeing his followers in a dreary new light. But the singer finally got help, from some rather unusual sources. All of which led to the fifth Frightened Rabbit epistle—the aptly dubbed Painting Of A Panic Attack, produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner. Hutchison and his bandmates—Grant Hutchison, Billy Kennedy, Andy Monaghan and Simon Liddell—will be guest editing all week. Read our new feature.


Liddell: One month shy of the first anniversary of renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks’ death, I’ve been re-reading his book Musicophilia, which explores how music relates to the human brain. There are various case studies covered in the book, including a surgeon, who soon after being struck by lightning develops an insatiable desire to spend almost every minute of the day listening to, and learning to play, classical piano music. He quickly became a highly proficient musician, but this was at the expense of his marriage.

Sacks also looked at music as a treatment for neurological conditions. New Yorker Matt Giordano had suffered from severe Tourette’s syndrome from an early age but discovered as a child that through drumming, he could find relief from his ticks. I found this fascinating short documentary about Matt where he describes his condition and the release that drumming and rhythm bring him. The film also features some beautiful shots of the amazing Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado.

“It feels like my body is designed like a 75-watt lightbulb, and I’m plugged into a 1,000 watts.”

Matt runs a foundation called Drum Echoes that run events/workshops relating drumming as a form of therapy. Some info here.

If you’re unfamiliar with Sacks, Musicophilia is a reasonable place to start, but perhaps first read The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. After that, you can get stuck into the numerous lectures and interviews online and the rest of his printed back catalogue.