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Alice In Chains

October 22, 2013
Photo by Eddie Malluk/WireImage

Photo by Eddie Malluk/WireImage

I must say that I love this band. With songs like “The Man in the Box,” “Rooster,” “Love Hate Love,” “Rain When I Die,” “Nutshell”… and so many more great hits, how could I not like them?

“Man in the Box,” now that song hits home with me on so many levels. For one, I am a man in a box. Buried in my shit. Growing up in foster care, I was the dog who got beat while having my nose shoved in shit.

“Rooster” is just a really cool story, which Jerry Cantrell wrote about his own father’s service in the Vietnam War, and the struggles this caused in his father’s life: “They spit on me in my homeland…” The familial struggles: “Lawyers send me pictures of my boy…”

“Love Hate Love” sort of reminds me of all the relationships I fucked up: “I tried to love you, I thought I could…”

“Rain When I Die” has got some of the sickest bluesy/grunge guitar riffs I’ve ever heard.

“Nutshell” has poetry that has been called maudlin, but I guess that’s what makes it so strong, as well as the beautiful musical accompaniment. Maybe I just find myself relating to this song, especially the second verse, too well:
“My gift of self is raped
My privacy is raked
And yet I find
And yet I find
Repeating in my head
If I can’t be my own
I’d feel better dead”

And when Layne Staley coos “oooh, oooh” in between the short verses rather than using a refrain, which would have completely changed the song, I find it comforting. This song, for some reason, always brings all of the heartbreak out of me. I’ve cried to it on multiple occasions. The first line of the song is “We chase misprinted lies..” That line has the least meaning to me, the second line is “We chase the path of time”. I always change it to “We chase the WRATH of time.” The second verse hit the nail on the head for me.

There are so many other great songs that Alice In Chains (AIC) put out. So many. “Dirt,” “Down in a Hole,” “Angry Chair.” I have the album called “Essential Alice in Chains” in my collection, and as its name sounds, it is a compilation of some of their greatest songs. They put five or six from “Dirt,” which by many is considered their best album, but does not include “Down in a Hole,” which has to be considered one of their best songs. I love this song, but as you can see, I love most of their songs.

In case you are interested in the group itself, the band was formed in the late 80’s by three friends with a love for music: Jerry Cantrell, the guitar, Mike Starr, bass, and Sean Kinney, drums. Then they met a singer named Layne Staley who had a band called Alice In Chains, and there you have it. These kindred spirits formed a strong bond, which would prove to be an almost unbreakable musical alliance. In 1990, they presented themselves to the world with their debut album, “Facelift.” One song in particular on that album would get radio play and help the band to broaden their audience to the younger generation of alternative radio listeners. With this success, AIC went out on tour and recorded their second album “Would?”

In 1992, they toured with Ozzy Osbourne as his opening act, and put out their third album “Dirt,” which sold 2 million copies in its first year of release. This was the album with “Rooster” among other hits.

I think that it is safe to say the band was widely successful at their inception, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t struggle and have problems–with drugs, creative differences. In 1993, Mike Starr left the band. The only person AIC considered as a replacement for Starr was Ozzy’s bass player, Mike Inez, who they had met during the tour. When Inez asked Ozzy if it’d be okay if he joined AIC, Ozzy was supportive and enthusiastic. In his humorous way, he stated that if Inez did not go with AIC, then he’d have to visit a doctor. When Inez wondered why, Ozzy told him he’d need a doctor to remove his boot from his ass. Needless to say, Inez joined Alice In Chains and Layne Staleywas a perfect fit.

Their fourth album “Jar of Flies” was recorded in just 7 days. Released in 1994, it was the first EP to reach #1 on the album billboard charts. In 1995, they released their self-titled album, and it debuted at number 1 on the U.S. charts. The following year, the band performed an acoustic set for MTV Unplugged, and saw a childhood dream come to fruition performing five live shows supporting KISS. These would be their last live performances.

The band had a fast start and a sudden stop on April 19th, 2002, when Layne Staley was found in his home dead from a drug overdose. They never put out any new music as a band, but Jerry Cantrell released a couple of solo albums, “Degradation Trip” and “Boggy Depot.” Nonetheless, Alice in chains left behind a legacy, and legends don’t die.


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