What Fugazi’s “Turnover” Has To Do With the Clifton Student Union, and Why You Should Care

What Fugazi's

Rene Cisneros, staff writer, born in the wrong generation

This is simply my interpretation of the album, I’m likely completely wrong about the message trying to be conveyed here.


Turnover is the opening track to Fugazi’s sophomore full length album, Repeater, released after the band having already been established in the DC scene in the years following the fall of the Hardcore Punk Genre. If this all sounds like gibberish, it’s because it is. The overarching topic of this album was the effect of commercialism on the individual. Think of the album as an argumentative essay and this song as the thesis: Consumerism has had a very negative effect on the lives of working class individuals in the United States.


I do not completely support said statement, I am in no position to talk about the causes of the way we act or feel because I am no social scientist. Turnover, however, illustrates the problem without specifically highlighting the cause, which is done in the subsequent tracks. You do not need to be an anti-capitalist to relate to the emotions of lethargy felt by the main character of the song.


Through the use of this fast paced beat and a rhythm that goes from light autumn breeze to winter whirlwind in the matter of seconds, a hypnotic riff and concise chorus, Fugazi were able to capture the angst and disgust of the late 80s  political landscape as well as the seemingly absent reaction from the working class.


While their motives were likely purely political, the lyrics retain a sense of relevance today, a time of relative political inaction and uncertainty in the future, particularly for us the youth of a nation built on the decisions of those we have no control over, no accountability.


Lounging against your weapons

Until your muscles find lock

In the ease of that position


In simpler words, Ian MacKaye is describing a situation practically everyone who ever lived had to suffer through, the fear of action and indifference to danger. He is describing the feeling of speaking up for what you believe in, the danger of following your passions, or standing up against injustice. Headlines clog up your notifications bar about another school shooting or another family separated at the border or another dad gone without chemotherapy because he had rent to pay. Politicians talk about solutions, but never deliver. It becomes easy to do nothing, grow apathetic to the world and just not think about it. Tune it all out.


A residue of tremor passes

As some cherie amour (protective love) suggests

Maybe it was time to smash things up


Here is the “but”. There still remains some sense of humanity within us, the fight of the “fight or flight” reflex. Moments of clarity in the everlasting haze of uncertainty which is life. I want to relate this to something more grounded (and very cliche): trying out for the football team or some other group you are absolutely passionate about. It becomes easy to dismiss dreams of grandeur as out of reach and unrealistic, out of all the kids in the school why should I be picked? Why bother with the stress of practice if there is a chance of failure? This protective love mentioned by MacKaye is the innate desire to persevere, something that seems almost lost in many of us, myself included. Of course, it is only up to you to decide what path to take, one of indifference and familiar apathy, or one of passion and change…


…and yes this was all a long winded advert for the Clifton Student Union, meetings every Tuesday, S217…


…and also an attempt to introduce you, the reader, to an awesome piece of music history, enjoy.