Everything is music to me, if you haven’t already caught on to that. Recently, I was cracking an egg into the frying pan and realized that it sounded just like the beginning power chords of Alice in Chains’ “Man in the Box.”
As my inner monologue/stream of consciousness rambles on each morning that I have an egg, it is interrupted by the powerful and dark track by band, that, despite the sad and untimely death of Layne Staley, keeps rocking on.
Now, let’s talk about Alice in Chains for a moment. “Man in the Box” was the first bass line I truly mastered. The gist of it is (in Eb Ab Db Gb):
Q E E E E E E Q E E E E E E Q E E E E E E
Q E E E E S S E 4x Q E E E E E E Q E E E E E E
Q E E E E E E Q E E E E S S E E E E E S S S S Q
…for those of you bassists who read tab. But my first introduction to them was “Would?” from the Singles soundtrack.
When I was 12, I wrote a song that I envisioned and modeled after “Angry Chair.” When I finally “auditioned” for my brother’s band, I sang “Man in the Box” and it’s a moment I’ll never forget. First of all, I do have a good singing voice, but it really does no justice trying to be Layne Staley. Jeremy, however, was impressed and invited me in. Truth be told, I nagged a little because the singer they had was this side of tone-deaf and really NOT good.
Alice in Chains was a band that Jeremy and I shared. He had Dirt on cassette, and we enjoyed car rides (after fighting for shotgun) belting out “You know he ain’t gonna diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiie no, no, nooooohw!” from “Rooster.” That was a track that guitarist Jerry Cantrell had written in honor of his father, fighting in Vietnam.
Was I sad when Kurt Cobain died? Well, yes. But mid-way through my college years, when I discovered Layne was no longer with us, I truly grieved. A less-than-music-minded boyfriend of mine, at the time (is it a wonder that didn’t work out?) was not quite sympathetic. “Well, you know, he was a heroin addict, honey.”
Kurt died when I was just born into this wonderful music world (musically, of course. I was 12.) Layne passed when I was totally immersed in every redeeming riff. Maybe that’s why it bothered me so much. I wish I could find the poem I wrote about him. I know it’s around here somewhere, and when I do, I’ll share it here.
One final thing…we realize how fleeting life can be. Music is our life blood. And music helps us cope, celebrate, and thrive. When life is music to you, as it is to me, even the a.m. egg-crack helps Layne’s brilliance live on. It makes for a good day, too.
Be well and rock on,
P.S. Because you know the whole time you’ve been reading this, you wanted to hear it…
Yes, it’s the edited version that they used to play on MTV when MTV was cool, but it’s such a visual masterpiece, I had to let you see it, even though it’s censored.