Just like every other teenager, twenty years ago, I heard the news of Kurt’s tragic death on TV and phoned my friends to share my disbelief. I kept hearing journalists say that “it didn’t come as a surprise” because he was a “drug addict” and such, but I find this attitude very irritating and contemptuous. While we might never know what led to this tragedy, as the circumstances surrounding his death are so obscure, it seems as though Kurt had been suffering both physically and psychologically for a long time, and fame accentuated it all. That saddens me. I wonder what songs Kurt would have written if he was still with us.
I am twenty years older now but the “grunge” period left a profound mark on me. My way of thinking hasn’t really changed (although I may be less radical about it). I still think most things thrown at us are quite superficial and insignificant, and are not worth risking your health and sanity over (if you can help it). But the few really important things in life, those must be treasured: strong relationships, worthy accomplishments, everyday joys with family and friends, and… good music?
I already posted a link to the amazing unplugged mythical performance of “Where did you sleep last night” (https://songsuneedtohear.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/where-did-you-sleep-last-night-lead-belly-vs-nirvana/), so today I chose to go with the underrated “Lounge Act” and “Something in the way”, the classic “Come as you are” from Nevermind, and “Rape me” from In Utero.
I was wondering when I would start posting about the so-called “grunge” bands of the 90’s, which I listened to a lot, being a teenager at the time. I find the word “grunge” to be both strange, and a bit irritating as it was used over the years to define what some saw as a fashion trend (??!). Give me a break. After the wacky superficial glam rock period, these musicians were tapping into more serious introspective personal or social issues (social alienation, despair, anxiety, etc.), they were very low-key in terms of appearence and theatrics, and they played their guitar pretty hard. Some bands were good, some were bad, but, in general, I think what they expressed was genuine. Plus, it made total sense in the context of the 90’s. I guess any kind of subculture will have to go through this : for example, people focus way too much on the clothing aspect of the 70’s punk and 60’s hippy movements, rather than the actual values conveyed through these movements (allow me a Charlie Brown quote : Good grief!!).
Pearl Jam has outlasted the “grunge” period anyway so and I don’t think anyone opposes their current status as an enduring american rock group. Singers from generic bands have tried to imitate Eddie Vedder over and over again, but unfortunately, it’s really easy to tell the real one from the fakes. Pearl Jam’s songs have heart, the lyrics are meaningful, and they have rocking guitar solos (their classics do at least). And of course there’s Eddie Vedder’s distinctive and gutwrenching voice. Some of Pearl Jam’s songs got airplay but most of these were a bit dull (ex. Last Kiss), haven’t aged so well, or I just got tired of hearing them. The really good songs, of course, never get played, and it’s a shame. Let’s put an end to this right now!
I haven’t listened to this stuff in a long time. I have to say that these live performances are quite impressive. Here are a few classics: State of Love and Trust (I used to listen to this song on repeat), Crazy Mary, Rearview Mirror, Black, and Corduroy. Plus, the 2007 “Into the Wild” soundtrack, composed by Eddie Vedder, which was pretty good.