Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Ranting, raving & generally being emotional

It is in rare moments that you can astound yourself with how deep musical feeling really goes. Sometimes music elates you, and takes you to places you never knew existed. Sometimes music emphasises you; enhances your character and perhaps even your soul. Music can be anything you want it to be and if you let it, can take you to places you never even imagined were within human reach.

Alice In Chains have been a favourite band of mine for many years, and they have always 'done something' to me upon every listen. Something about their close knit guitar and bass harmonies, or their slow pounding rhythms or the beautiful entwining of Layne and Jerry's voices (Layne Staley - lead vocals, Jerry Cantrell - guitarist and vocalist) has always given me goosebumps (or if you're being technical, the term is 'Frission'). Sometimes, after a shit day, all I feel that I need is some of Staley's brute power and exquisite beauty (which somehow managed to find perfect matremony in one voice) to make me feel good again. What a beast of a voice, with such a unique quality so rarely found in rock vocalists and perhaps only inherent in a handful since. Mr Staley has saved me through the medium of music on many occasions: I adore his voice, his band and all of the beautiful music they have given me.

It beggars belief how I had not decided to research his death sooner (in truth, I simply try not to think about it) but this evening the time came and I discovered some facts that filled me with the most genuine sadness. Layne Staley, iconic vocalist and musical revolutionary died truly alone from a 'speedball' overdose. He was not found by anyone until two weeks after his death where he lay surrounded by drugs, curled up on his sofa; needle in arm, utterly gaunt and toothless. Attempting to comprehend how such a god-like voice and purveyor of lyrical greatness can have come to such a lonely end fills me with an indescribable feeling as I sit and listen to him wail with such passion and power. A musical entrepreneur who has taken me on journeys to heightened levels of consciousness I never thought imaginable has filled me with love, hope, joy; anger, sadness and power. He died utterly alone, more mortal than such a godlike musical icon should have. Music is the greatest gift ever to have graced this planet and the only artistic medium to have ever had a truly profound effect upon me and the way I view life; and to Layne Staley I am truly thankful.

"And, if you let it, music could take you rushing down the current to places you'd never imagined. That is, if you cared enough..."

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