It seems odd to celebrate someone’s “death day.” Given my love of Layne Staley and his music, it would seem more appropriate to celebrate his birthday. But I can’t help thinking of Layne’s personal struggle with drugs not only every April 5, but almost every time I hear his music. And I would likely have my “Grunge” card revoked if I didn’t also mention Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, whose suicide ironically occurred on this same day, eight years before, also after a struggle with heroin, which he claimed to have tried in order to help cope with a painful stomach condition. (It is interesting to note that in both cases, the musicians’s bodies were not discovered immediately after their deaths, so the date of their death was determined by medical professionals.)
“We chase misprinted lies
We face the path of time…
If I can’t be my own, I’d feel better dead”
“Chaos and hate shadow me, pain it fills me up…Only one thing makes me feel, missing better half of me.”
Kurt Donald Cobain~ 2/20/1967-4/5/1994
Layne Thomas Staley~ 8/22/1967- 4/5/2002
I know what you’re thinking, and no, I have not been hitting the NyQuil too hard.
They say that the sense of smell is the sense that is most closely tied to memory, but I’d say hearing, specifically music, comes a close second. For me at least, music often evokes feelings, phantom emotions from the past.
My main musical lifelines are still mainly the alternative and industrial bands of my teenage years and early twenties; Tool, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, A Perfect Circle. Hearing that music recalls the bittersweet feelings of a time that was paradoxically simpler, yet more difficult. It often makes me long for those long gone days. This is the music which still most strongly affects me, the music with which I still most closely identify, and the music through which I still have a voice for my emotions and ideas.
Though the musical identity I began developing around middle school is markedly different from the music I grew up listening to, my tastes are eclectic enough to leave room for many types of music, and there are more than a few songs that I heard growing up which strike a “memory” chord for me. My parents’ music.
Some are technically early eighties and nineties pop songs, I suppose, but some are songs I heard when my parents played their records (yes, you read that right) or listened to classic rock and oldies radio stations.
Many of these songs bring to mind remnants of feelings or thoughts I had at the time, a sort of revival of the ideas I had about the music; I remember what those songs meant to me through the ears of a child.
And a couple of the songs are associated with television shows or films, and evoke the emotions caused by that particular show.
Here are just a few of those songs, in no particular order. I even own one or two albums by some of these artists.
As you read the list, keep in mind I was born in ’81, so the categorization of the songs is relative to that.
Chicago— 25 0r 6 to 4 (oldies radio)
Kansas— Dust in the wind (The Highlander TV series)
Mr. Mister— Broken Wings (pop radio)
Cream— White Room (oldies radio)
Seals and Crofts— Summer Breeze (oldies radio)
Simon & Garfunkel— Scarborough Fair (oldies radio)
U2– With or Without You (pop radio)
Cutting Crew— (I just) Died in your Arms Tonight (pop radio)
Tears for Fears— Head Over Heels (radio/and then later, Donnie Darko)
Genesis— Tonight, Tonight, Tonight (pop radio)
Rolling Stones— Give Me Shelter (radio)
Jim Croce— Time in a Bottle (radio- In college I ended up writing a short story inspired by this song)
Anyway, I can’t recall all of them at present, but you get the idea. What are some songs you remember from your childhood?
Every article I see is dope this, junkie that, whiskey this – that ain’t my title. ~Layne Staley
Remember the music, remember the man. Hope you’ve found peace, Layne.
In researching and preparing for an upcoming article on the anniversary of Layne Staley’s death, I came across this tribute website, and then found THIS little nugget of “wisdom.” Continue reading
In the wake of yet another music icon lost to a suspected drug overdose (Whitney Houston), I’d like to say a few words. There’s no way I can pay tribute to all of the great musicians, actors, comedians, and entertainers that have had a tremendous influence or personal impacts on our lives and have been lost to drug and alcohol abuse. Also, celebrities aside, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that probably almost anyone that reads this has known someone who they lost to either drug overdose or complications from past drug use. I know I have…several.
Another reason I’m not going to mention all of the artists lost over the years is because frankly (and I know this may be an extremely unpopular opinion/statement) I don’t really identify with or care about all of them. This is not to say that I feel that anyone should overdose and die on drugs, but they did not all have the same effect on my life. The two people I will mention here today struck a chord with me in particular and this is why…