Monday, October 17, 2011

An Artist a Day: 10

Today is grunge band day.  I've been listening today to Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots and Nirvana.  I completely forgot to wear Doc Martins and plaid today, but I have enjoyed listening to some music that I haven't heard in quite a while - particularly Pearl Jam's Ten and Vs. albums.

Ten came out in 1991, but got really popular in the spring and summer before my senior year in high school.  It still reminds me of senior car washes and hanging out with friends that summer.  Vs. came out during my freshman year in college and for some reason reminds me of listening to it at night in my dorm room.  "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town" was my favorite song from that album, but I recall not really caring for the album much overall at the time.  I remember being really, really disappointed that it sounded so different than Ten.  And it also killed my buying of any future Pearl Jam albums.  Besides, by the time Vitology came out in the winter of 1994 grunge was all but dead anyway, at least as far as I was concerned.

By 1994 I was still into rock (after a fling with techno over the summer) , but a much more mellow kind such as Tom Petty's Wildflowers, Crowded House's Together Alone, Counting Crows' August and Everything After and Nirvana's Unplugged in New York.  I had those albums on heavy rotation that winter, along with quite a bit of Rush.  But following Kurt Kobain's suicide, Unplugged in New York captivated me.  I wasn't a Cobain fan or anything - I was just searching for meaning in the world that he had chosen to abandon.

Stone Temple Pilots burst on the scene in the summer of 1993 and I remember hearing my across-the-hall neighbor blasting "Plush" throughout the halls of the dorm the first week I arrived at college.  I went right out and bought Core and started blasting it myself.  The Purple album was kind of the soundtrack of the spring of '94 for me.  It still brings back memories of watching the Rockets win a world championship, a DeMolay trip to Kansas City where we won a championship of our own and a road trip to Colorado with my then girlfriend and her family.

These bands alone represent both very exciting "top of the world" times in high school (each band's first albums) and very confusing, dark times in college (each band's second album).  The music is still haunting after all these years, but I can finally enjoy listening without the angst and gut-wrenching baggage that they carried for me at the time.  This is some of the music that helped define who I would become as a man, and for that I love every gritty guitar-crunching note.

Playlist: 74 songs; 5.3 hours

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