I realize how cool it is that Jerry Cantrell signed my red fender stratocaster. I bought the guitar used and I think I might have used my high school graduation party money to pay for it? I think most people think of sports memorabilia whenever autographs are involved, but “rock stars” or musicians that sign stuff is often less talked about. I mean fans generally get pictures with their favorites. In a small imaginative way it feels that by virtue of him signing my guitar, he was confirming to me that I should always pursue music in some form? Like if someone of his stature would spend time signing it, or if I would put myself in this position to get it signed, then playing music should be viewed as a strong priority in my life. And I believe it is. Although I don’t want to get too heavy into the fate of this that or the other thing.
This whole post came about while listening to a new song by Alice in Chains called “black gives way to blue”. It’s a song written about Layne Staley and his bleak ending. It makes me think about how we often elevate people that had or have horrible drug addictions, but created very powerful art, by way of having a drug problem. Not that anyone would set out to have a drug problem in order to write redemptive songs about their abuse; But I think Staley was so honest about his addiction, as you can hear on the album “Dirt”. It’s this honesty that originally got me into the band.
It’s likes an on-going documentary with a band when you’re aware of certain members struggling with addiction. This was true with Elliott Smith, although I got into him after he died. I believe the rawness of the message, in contrast with the beauty of the music is what hooks so many people. Then I consider how much effort each of us spends on a day to day basis, confirming that we’re alright to others, all in an attempt not to be viewed as vulnerable or weak willed. It’s as if the fandom or appreciation of these suffering or honest musicians, allows us to thank those that say what we are too afraid or timid to say to others.
It’s funny how people can quote on quote relate to a band or singer, but be a very square member of society. (college, job, or family) I don’t necessarily think it’s relating, as it is embracing another human being that would be so frank and willing to bare themselves nude to the world…or to do this as a career. We take so much from their art, yet in the back of our heads, we know that the pace their living is unsustainable, but we cheer them on to keep performing and making us feel triumphant in a way.
In the end addiction comes in varying forms. In a way too many people are addicted to keeping a facade that bares nothing of who they are privately and only what they imagine themselves to be in the eyes of others. I don’t believe myself to be some struggling, soul searching musician. I’m more so interested in why someone like Kurt Cobain or Michael Jackson becomes so adored and appreciated before and after their death. Why don’t people adore and appreciate the ones that constantly improve their own lives and those around them? The community orgaziners, the mothers against drunk drivers, teachers, etc. Why do we just accept these people and move on from them so soon?
I suppose that as humans we are constantly trying to raise people up, it’s our soul’s purpose for the most part. For any situation you are in, if there is another hurting or in stress, you feel a pull to ease their pain. And I think that maybe these tortured or troubled musicians need all of this world’s energy sometimes, because their psychic pain is so unreal to them, or their too sensitive to it.
Or we’re just all here from different planets and thus are always at war with each other because of vast misunderstandings?
Or I have the flu and I’m doped up on Nyquil, so I’m feeling sentimental and too speculative?
“black gives way to blue.” by A.I.C. You should check it out. Sir Elton John even makes an appearance on piano.
A video compilation to remember the late great E.Smith