The other night I was bored and did a search on “grunge” on YouTube. I found this ~45m Grunge documentary that VH1 did and watched it.
Now I was born in 1980 so my pre teen and teenage years were heavily influenced musically by grunge. While my first tapes purchased (apart from the oldies tapes my parents gave me for a radio + tape player mini jukebox for my birthday) were Appetite For Destruction, Alice Cooper and Weird Al, one of my first CDs were Nirvana’s Nevermind. I remember sitting on my living room floor one day looking at the insert and reading the bandmember’s names and the instruments they played.. “Bass” by Krist Novoselic..what’s bass? lol.. I remember hearing Perl Jam at my friend Travis’s house, where one of the songs Eddie Vedder belted out an F bomb. It was love at first listen. Rebellious, electric, raw, grungy rock …everything I wanted to be.
With SoCoRock, Cool Mic, being a musician and general music and technology addict, I was really drawn in by the documentary. I grew up and loved the music and bands they focused on – Perl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Nirvana.. but it really brought it all together into a story that made the whole grunge movement make complete sense. Seattle, an economically struggling area, cold, wet, far from any other major areas.. harvested a completely unique music scene with its roots in the music itself. Kids that were music fans hung out and figured out how their drums, electric guitars, etc. worked in musty wet garages. All day. Every day.
The scene grew seemingly with groups of friends that were into music simply hanging out together. When Mother Love Bone shot for the stars and really pushed to glorify what was going on there (along with Andrew Wood’s unfortunate Heroine overdose and subsequent death), with Sub Pop Records coming in to promote Seattle and Grunge to far away lands and the feedback loop starting between Britain and the U.S., the media had a feeding frenzy on the organic, raw nature of a completely new scene that was trying to fill a vacuum left by the charismatic Wood. Soundgarden jumped from Sub Pop to a major label first, followed by Nirvana..
The legendary one-time super project was formed and comprised of Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell (who was a good friend and former roomate of Wood), Matt Cameron (drummer from Soundgarden), Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard from Mother Love Bone, called Temple of the Dog. Temple of the Dog was a direct lyric of Wood’s “Man of Golden Words” which I never knew – and both songs, “Say Hello To Heaven” and “Reach Down” were dedicated to him. TotD gives me many memories musically – one takes me back to my dad’s house when I remember using his high-speed dual-cassette recorder to make a dubbed copy of the cassette I must had borrowed from a friend.
I never knew Perl Jam as a band that took a lot of shit for ‘riding Nirvana’s wave’ so to speak. When the remaining Mother Love Bone members met up with San Diego’s Eddie Vedder, they were accused of becoming popular on the wave that was already being generated. What hypocrisy, I thought, as if it weren’t for the members, a lot would have been different.
Of course those memories are my own and personal to myself and watching this documentary really brings a lot of perspective to the music that created them and influenced me growing up. A whole genre that centered around bringing yourselves up on something real and that means something to you, and then immediately when it’s about to pop, tragedy.. it makes sense. Nothing can possibly create more genuine music than that. And when the media came in and started creating an atmosphere of illusion by getting signed, being a celeb and the whole “rock star” status, most of them scoffed and told them to fuck off. Unfortunately being able to handle stardom itself was difficult for such pure musical souls so addiction was common and unfortunately Heroin’s abundance in Seattle caused many of the best to drop off the face of the Earth.
To me, grunge was the latest in real musical movements. I feel a lot of nostalgia toward it today and I see a lot of style going back to it even here in Hidden Valley – plaid over t-shirts, ripped up jeans/shorts, the whole look is all around with teenagers. Just a while ago driving by Santa Rosa High school I saw a kid walking with a Nirvana shirt on. It made me smile and have hope for the next rock revolution, which I don’t think is far off. I’m going to do my best to make sure I’m a part of how it happens.
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