Tag: days of the new

500 Words on Grunge

Courtesy Easybranches

When I was growing up, and going through some bullying and shunning in junior high, grunge was on the rise. Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden… these names were surging through the airwaves, videos playing on MTV, the sound was all around. For my part, I listened, but I found it difficult to really interface with the content of the songs. I was much more engaged by faster-paced acts like Green Day and the Offspring. I wasn’t quite ready to fully examine the meaning and thrust of grunge; the more obvious punkish sounds underscored my unexpressed frustrations and anger. It felt, at the time, more cathartic. I didn’t know what I was missing.

Since moving to Seattle, and especially in the last year, many of these bands and their music have come back into my life, and I find myself having a newfound appreciation for their messages and meanings.

Chris Cornell’s sudden and inexplicable death struck a melancholy chord deep within me. I feel that I missed some great opportunities. The more I listen to Soundgarden, Audioslave, and his side projects and solo work, the more I can see parts of myself and my inner struggles in what Chris conveyed in his words and his singular voice. I find myself in another situation where I feel I didn’t appreciate the influence and power of someone enough until they were gone from my life; now, I can’t deny a desire to say and do so much more, to this person and on their behalf, because they made the world, and my life, better for their presence; both are now the poorer for their absence.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’ve handled my head weasels and the ways in which I’ve been pushed around by my errant thoughts and rampant emotions. While it’s good to know I’m not alone in this, it also breaks my heart at times — why would a thinking, feeling human being wish these things upon another? When I listen to grunge with the ears I have now, I find myself understanding the music and its motivations so much more, and wishing peace for those who feel the same, from the artists to their fans.

Mental illness is not something to be taken lightly. Even when things seem ‘okay’, the victim may simply be projecting an illusion of normality. Worse, something may appear out of nowhere to tip the scales into disaster — one unanticipated phone call, one bit of bad news, one pill too many. When these are conveyed to us, in speech or in song, we cannot take it lightly; we owe it to those we love too imagine them complexly, and offer love and support whenever we can.

We have the music of the artists who’ve left us; we have the good memories of the loved ones we’ve lost. There have been so many casualties — Kurt, Layne Staley, Andrew Wood, Ian Curtis, and now Chris — but we can hear them, and we can remember.

On Fridays I write 500 words.

Not The Same

While finding my groove with the new gig, and making plans to return more prominently to the Internet, I’ve been reconnecting with some of the music of my younger years. I’ve always loved Dave Grohl and his bands, especially the Foo Fighters — hence the pin I wear on my overcoat, right next to my Safety Pin and under “America Is Not The World.” Partnering with an audiophile and general music wyzard has brought Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Nirvana, and Audioslave back into my life in a big way (also, you know, Seattle), and has introduced me to Big Wreck. Assembling a station on Pandora — which you can listen to here — has also reminded me of one of the seminal yet forgotten bands of my youth: Days of the New.

At the time, I was a bit less fully self-aware, and Days of the New was good stuff, but not quite in the same vein as Creed or Evanescence. While bands of that ilk have faded as my tastes and perceptions have grown and expanded, Days of the New comes back and strikes resonating chords. The vocals of Travis Meeks sit very comfortably in my range, which is always a plus, But the lyrics are what hitting those strings within me. There’s something simplistic about it, something raw and real, unfettered by artifice or hyperbole.

One song that keeps coming up is “Not The Same“, and… well, duh.

If you know me at all, if you’ve been paying attention, it should be obvious that I’m not the same. Sure, at this time last year I was trying to be more self-aware, more constructive, more this version of myself, but there was a piece missing. I wasn’t motivated to do it solely for my own good. I was doing it, if I’m honest, for the benefit of others.

Oddly enough, it was the behavior of others that made this clear, and I once again had to change.

There’s some sentiment out there that talks about not changing who you are. Songs have been written about it. About not letting the world or other people change you. And there’s some truth to that. However, if I hadn’t taken it upon myself to change myself, I would not be where I am now. And, as a direct result of these efforts, I am not the same.

Two years ago I was blinded by various distractions, misconceptions, perceptions, and unacknowledged fears and issues. That left me open to be blindsided by drama and truths that had to be addressed. It kept me from being honest.

Last year I was broken, trying to put myself back together, and overly reliant on others to help me do it. That left me open to be exploited and, subsequently, discarded; to be tossed about with my hands off of the wheel until the shifting winds and waves threw me out to sink or swim, with little in terms of a lifeline in sight. It kept me from acknowledging and cultivating my own strength and worth.

This year? This year, I am not the same.

And anybody who thinks I am is a fucking idiot.

I was asked the other day who I’m writing this sort of thing for. If I’m directing this rhetoric at individuals in particular, in some misguided hope I can change others. The truth is, if someone sees this, and as a result sees me differently, that’s great! I won’t deny that I maintain a glimmer of hope that being this vocal and this open and this persistent in telling my side of the story can put in stark relief the selfish wants and callous gaslighting of others.

But when you get right down to it, I’m telling my story because I’m sick and tired of holding my tongue when it comes to driving my own narrative. I’m taking the pen back from others who’ve held it. Around this time last year, I put out some kind of weak-ass bullshit about “hey, it’s okay if you need to see me as a villain, that’s fine, if it helps you heal I’m all for it” and so on and so forth.

Fuck that.

I’m not the same. I refuse to let myself fall back into those old patterns, those useless ways of thinking. And if some trifling, myopic people want to try and write me into a corner where that is all I do, it’s in my best interest as a human being capable of change and worthy of love and respect to snatch the pen from their hands and say “No. You do not get to dehumanize me in this way. Look to your own life and the ways you can make it better without making the lives around you worse.”

It isn’t easy. I still struggle with things. I can have a learned behavior kick in as a reaction to a situation that’s no longer relevant, or as a habit that I need to change. And while the results of such things are not okay, the fact that I want to change these things is okay. It’s better than okay. It’s what defines someone who is doing their utmost to act like a gorram adult.

I’m not the same.

Thank every single star in the sky for that.

Tuesdays are for telling my story.

Seriously, fuck off with your weak-ass bullshit, you bunch of trifling-ass bitches.

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