I have heard over and over again, that your thirties “is the best time of your life”. Well I beg to differ. I am right smack dab in the middle of my thirties, turning 36 only last month, and from my experience, your thirties are almost an adult adolescence. Everthing seems to be changing. Identity, hormones, (but that is definitely a post for another day!) , health, wealth- (it comes, it goes), children coming of age, career changes are very common among friends, divorce and death, the list goes on. Now I don’t want to be all doom and gloom. Its not at all who I am! And maybe its a combination of the afore mentioned that’s got me all feeling this way today. Regardless that’s where I’m at today and that’s what is goin down on this blog post today.
Tomorrow, my incredibly modern family, (and by that I mean my same sex partner, my three children from my first marriage, who will now be referred to as our children, my ex husband and my teenage son’s childhood best bud and I are all leaving for our annual may long weekend camping extravaganza. My partner calls it “glamping”- even though we tent it, apparently its over the top! Again, a blog post for another day. I digress. Today, I had all the kids home as our out of town company had arrived for the trip, and as per tradition, the kids cut class, ( i believe they are learning shit tones more from packing and planning for 4 days without any modern services aside a toilet than they do in an entire year in school, (again another post entirely!) . But today the fun starts, we pack, we plan, we shop. We talk about the memories of camping trips past, how lucky the kids feel, (even the teens!), to have the opportunity to camp. In tents, with friends. To unplug, because until there is no choice, but to unplug, they truly don’t know how to do it anymore. The day usually starts with a big breakfast and the making of the “list”, meaning groceries, supplies, (and for the grown ups, deciding on the beverages necessary to survive with four children who are “unplugged”). Not today. Not even close.
Today I woke up to devastating news. Chris Cornell, front man of Soundgarden, icon of the 90’s grunge and alternative scene, powerhouse of Super groups Audioslave and Temple of the Dogs was dead at age 52 of an apparent suicide, (although buzz is already flying that he pulled a “Michael Hutchence”, succumbing to either death by suicide, or death by erotic asphyxiation. Either way, tragic is the only spin needed for this news. I was instantly thrown. I remember, being that awkward girl in 1994 who had not a hot fucking clue who she was (at the ripe age of 13) who went into HMV and came out with her first ever purchased CD. It was Superunknown by Soundgarden. I cannot for the life of me remember why i picked it up, if I was steered in that direction, if I had heard a track and needed to have it , or if the simple, yet dark art on the album cover spoke to me, enough to drop the customary $15.99, which when as a 13 year old babysitter meant that, that album was worth the smiling through the tortuous care of some desperate night off thirty something parent’s irritating as fuck toddlers for an entire evening. But, looking back that makes absolutely no matter, none at all. The music filled me. It pacified me. It spoke to me and i can remember it moved me to tears. It literally was the beginning of my journey to me. It lead me to the by then past Cobain, threw me into the open arms of the vibrant and alive, newly born grunge and alternative scene that gave us such incredible talents of Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Audioslave, Rage Against the Machine, Sonic Youth, Stone Temple Pilots and so many more..( said to be born in part of “Grandfather of Grunge” Neil Young,) . This was it, I found my sound. I found my place in this musical world. It spoke to me, it meant something to me, it sounds silly maybe, but it moved me. It had a direct impact on my life and absolutely has helped shape who I am, and fueled a passion for singer songwriter and alternative rock music in my life. I identified with Soundgarden, with Chris Cornell right down to the toes of my angst ridden teenage soul. And, truth be told, I have identified and never lost sight of the passion that came from that era since. Don’t get me wrong, I can get down with a catchy pop song just as good as any other, but where my soul is spoke to, where I connect on an emotional level, where I am inspired, moved and can get lost in is that beautiful, raw, lyrically genius alternative/grunge sound of the nineties. I fondly remember discovering Pear Jam on the #22 bus to Edmonds sky train station, rocking out to “Better Man”, loathing my alcoholic bio dad, locking myself in my room, plugging my headphones into my discman (google it kids) and losing myself in Black Hole Sun and escaping my dysfunctional mother.
Today hurt. It was Cornell who spoke to me first musically. I do know that some people can hear, move sing along to music without feeling it. I feel it. And its super sad to know that Cornell will never move speak to me, move me, or shape me in a different way or will he? My social media was flooded and my i-messages came hard and fast. I am not the only one who feels this loss as immense. People I do not connect to daily, weekly, or even monthly have shared their thoughts, sorrow and reminiscing with me. It has been incredibly sad. But it has been an incredibly beautiful day of trips down musical memory lane. The annual pre- camping extravaganza didn’t really happen. I was sad. I was very very reflective, and tunes were cranked through this home. My children were given a music-ation today. They loved it. I tuned in to the grunge station on the satellite radio. Tributes, b-sides and rarities blasted through the speakers. It was beautifully tragic, poetic and poignant, full of memory lane jaunts. A generation of 30 and 40 somethings sharing, reflecting and openly grieving through all of modern technology’s channels was moving to say the very least. On several occasions on several different platforms today the conversation in one way or another ended up with “music suffers another great loss”. And this could not be more true. In a musical sort of way, my thirties has been an incredible time of loss. Scott Weiland, Layne Staley, Bowie, George Michael, Prince, we know that time is ticking for Tragically Hip front man Gord Downie, ( that day will be a “call- in -sick-to-life day”). And that is only in the last couple years , and in no way shape or form a “complete” list of loss. I cannot help but echo the thoughts of many many of my peers in thinking the future of music is in real trouble. The ratio of true and pure talent lost to the ration of true talent thriving is not equal. Do I sound old? I am acutely aware of saying the things I have heard my parents say in days gone by. But I desperately believe this to be true. I wish I could charge music producers and young people to step up, to “say something!”, and maybe, just maybe, we will leave the realm of “hoes, thugs, bitches, and their posse’s” and get there. I am skeptical. I am also thankful that I live and exist in an age where the trip down memory lane is as simple as an i-tunes binge. In the reminiscing of today I felt a joy and nostalgia, that was so beautiful, comforting, yet, the kind that can only be born from total and utter tragic loss. That in itself is an interesting and fascinating facet of the human experience. My ex husband and I shot the shit over a beer, talking about the where’s and when’s of when we heard this and that. We shared downcast stares over pints in the sun and talked of how we will never take in that live show.
There are some of us that identify with different avenues of visual arts. My partner for example, she can get lost in the photography or paintings, sketches of other artists for hours. Taken to places and inspired in ways in which I will never really understand. For myself, its music. It always has been, it always will be. It takes me places. I can close my eyes, hear those sweet notes, hum and sing along to those tracks that flow like lyrical velvet and be taken places. Today I was taken to a place of incredible loss. A loss that has been felt over and over again, musically speaking in the last few years.
“I never wanted to write these words down for you
with the pages of phrases of all the things we’ll never do
So I blow out the candle
and I put you to bed
Since you can’t say to me now
how the dogs broke your bone
there’s just one thing left to be said
So say hello to heaven, heaven, heaven…
So say hello to heaven, heaven, heaven…”