Sunday, 28 January 2018

The Black dog

Its been a pretty rough time for lovers of music recently.

As yet another person from my musical kaleidoscope passes away it is interesting and perhaps more than a bit morbid to reflect on what is going on. We very unfortunately seem to be going through a duel phase of older musicians passing away due to the ravages of time and abuse, and younger ones not being able to handle their depression any longer. 

Whilst the former is in some way to be expected, it is hard to comprehend at the moment. Prince seems a complete waste. I mean really, what the fuck? How is it possible that he overdosed at his age? Not that overdosing is anything to do with age, but it seems ridiculous and more than a little unfathomable to me that someone who is as experienced as he was with drug taking etc, could get it so horribly wrong. If I am honest I do not really know what I am trying to say here, just damn I guess. I think the exact same way about Tom Petty's death. I mean come on man . . really.

As sad as it is that Fats Domino passed away, it wasn't really a surprise. He was 89 and people that age have a much higher rate of dying.

What I wanted to discuss here is the spate of suicides in the gunge/ metal/ 90s alternative scene. Specifically, Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington and Delores O'Riordon. I fully acknowledge that Delores death is still being investigated, but unfortunately a lot of what I have read points to it being self inflicted. Just a point, drug overdoses such as Prince, Tom Petty are deemed to be accidental, but we don't really know that they were.

Black Hole Sun

To try to get back to my actual point, the three singers above were responsible for some great music and specifically for the lyrics that expressed , very articulately, self loathing, darkness and depression. What set the music apart at the time was that darkness in the lyrics and the reason all three had such huge followings was because there was obviously a lot of real emotion behind the lyrics and as such the 'kids' could identify with it as being real, not faked. Very sadly, it is this that consumed them in the end.

The grunge scene, although I realize it was loosely put together as a scene, but anyway, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Stone temple pilots have all lost their singers and main lyricists to untimely deaths.  What attracted me to this music in the first place was that it was so much more emotional and deep in comparison to the rock music that had preceded it. Comparing Poison to Nirvana isn't even worth exploring.

Soundgarden Rusty cage

In the same way that Ian Curtis's death immortalized Joy Division , the deaths of Chris, Chester and Dolores must do the same to their music. The two songs posted here so far, Black Hole Sun and Rusty cage. listen , or in this case read the lyrics. Happy Clappy stuff isnt it. The point being, that it is quite clearly a very real emotion that is being put into the lyrics.

The same is very true of Linkin Park and Chester's lyrics

Indeed, unlike the somewhat vague imagery in Soundgarden's lyrics, there is nothing ambiguous about those lyrics is there? He was not a happy or indeed that well when those were being written. Now, Linkin Park are often derided in music scenes. Actually, it is a fair statement to say that the whole Nu Metal scene is now looked upon with a kind of snigger. This isn't fair at all. As the above shows, whether you liked the music or not, the emotion being expressed was very real and Linkin Park and Korn should really be listened to with fresh ears to see what was really going on within the song structure. It is both more interesting and contains a lot more naked emotion than it has been given credit for.

If we look at the suicides through a wider lens then it is impossible not to think of Kurt Cobain. I wonder if his suicide impacted these two, particularly, in a positive way. Bear with me. The incredibly public profiling of Kurt in the aftermath of his death must have had an impact on those around or influenced by him. I think it is easy to draw a conclusion that Chris Cornell was given pause for thought regarding his own, very real, issues and perhaps we have 20 years more of his work because of it. That event must have stopped him doing it earlier, to be as frank as possible.

If there is a positive to take from any of this, then that is perhaps it.

I have looked through my back catalog here and I have written a lot about depression, death, suicide and the way that music expresses this. I guess I am attracted to this subject matter as it is the most universal of all. It makes me very sad that the people who have been able to express it so well have to live it. I know that there isnt another way, but its not great when someones pain is so open to the world in the form of their art production.

I havent really discussed Delores death much. This isn't really an oversight. There isn't much more to say than I have. Her death doesn't provide any more insight, it just leaves her kids without a Mother and the world without a fabulous singer and songwriter. In the same way that Chris's and Chester's do. There are pieces to be picked up by their families, a deeply disturbing incident for their kids to live with and sadness. Just waste, nothing else.