April 6, 2016

Dipped In Burning Tar

It must have been sometime in 1991. I was a junior in high school and it felt like music was changing everyday and new bands were popping up right and left. It would be another year before Pearl Jam and Soundgarden really hit my scene, but the Nirvana single was in everyone’s hands, and we were still riding the Appetite for Destruction train to the last stop; it would be another few months before Check Your Head would change our lives.

But I remember one Saturday night when I was up late in my room watching 120 Minutes, and I saw the video for the first time. There was this guy with long dirty almost dreaded hair in some kind of pig-pen. The guitar was heavy and dark and felt like it had been dipped in burning tar. The guy on the screen with the mane of matted hair and a tiny goatee was screaming about denying his maker and sewing his eyes shut. It didn’t take long- a few bars in and I was hooked.

The next day I was at The Warehouse slapping down my $15 for a copy of Facelift by Alice in Chains. A few months later the small batch of songs on Sap showed the vulnerability of the band and Lanye Staley in particular and a few months after came the release of Dirt and then Jar of Flies.

I’m sharing this little Alice In Chains history lesson, because it was on another April 5th several years ago that Staley was found dead. And to this day his voice and sadness and rage take me to all the right places. There were so many nights wading through the smokey darkness when the world had gone to sleep that I sat in stern solitude, alone with songs like Down In A Hole and Don’t Follow.

The Man in the Box opened the door for me to the cathedral that was Alice in Chains. I spent many nights in its splendor and on nights like this it feels comforting to reacquaint myself with those old, now classic songs. I am so grateful for being alive and young and broken and obsessed with the music that was being created in the 1990s.

I am sure every generation thinks that it was their music that shaped the world, but for those of us who were eighteen and free in 1992, everyone else agrees with us- musically it was a great time to be alive.

Two barbecues with friends in two days. Veggie food, swimming pools, wine, nice salads, pleasant conversation- a nice way to enjoy the early evening breezes and watch the days fade to black.

Spent today running some errands and at the trampoline park, where I learned a few new things and was doing flips. Felt good to take some risks and not break a hip.

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