Music, Or How I Display The Origin of My Nickname Through Inanity

August 19, 2010

I was driving today when Metallica happened to come up via shuffle.  Not just any Metallica, but post-Black Album Metallica.  Some diehards (if there are any reading this) might be cringing right now.  But what went through my head?

“This song is really good.  Why is it that people hate anything Metallica made from 1993-2007?”

So I got home and put on The Call of Ktulu.  And I re-realized something:  Going off the wagon can really kill one’s musical abilities/career.  That and finally having responsibilities.

Pre-Black Album, Pre Kids, Early to Mid Amazingness

And Metallica isn’t the only band to have that happen, but they’re probably the most notable.

We don’t take kindly to your kind around here, shorthairs!

I mean, look at them.  They’re positively tame! And almost… respectable. *shudder*

Need more examples?

Jimi Hendrix: possibly died of a bad combination of wine and pills that caused him to vomit, and subsequently choke… on his own vomit.  Drank and did drugs til the day he died, and he stayed awesome.

Voodoo Chile, Runnin’ Wild

Janis Joplin: Died of a heroin overdose in LA, a death that was probably contributed to by her affinity for Jack Daniels and Southern Comfort.  Voted one of the 100 best singers of all time.

Southern Comfort and Janis

Jim Morrison: Poet and singer that defined a generation and continues to inspire and affect people to this day.  Loved Bushmills and Jim Beam, as well as Weed, Acid, Coke, and Heroin.  Died in Paris of heart problems at the ripe old age of 29, and some have attributed his death to heroin.  Also reported to have an IQ of ~150.

When You’re Strange

Jerry Garcia: The only one of this list not to die at 29.  Died in 1995 while in rehab for his ongoing heroin/cocaine addiction, which had gotten to the point that he was shooting “Speedball” (Coke and heroin mixture).  While he had the occasional off performance, Jerry continually composed and recorded music that can’t be mimicked or reproduced by anyone else.   A truly original and supremely talented musician, and he died before he was able to make music 100% sober, thus preserving his awesomeness.

Dark Star

Examples where going sober has gone wrong for a musician?

Jonathan Davis (and Korn):  While Korn is far from being the best band in the world, any true Korn fan will tell you that their steady decline began during/after the album Issues.  What’s so special about this album?  Oh yeah, Jonathan Davis stopped drinking and smoking weed.  And he had his second son.  Three albums later, the next worst alcoholic and drug user becomes a Christian, stops everything, and leaves the band.  Then it happens to the Bassist.  While they’ve slightly improved with their last album, they are nowhere near the Korn of old.  Why? Sobriety/Family.

This picture illustrates the point perfectly

Van Halen:  David Lee Roth leaves and is replaced by Sammy Hagar.  Van Halen introduces piano into their songs and mellows out considerably.  Why?  David Lee Roth, ever the party man.  Do I really need to spell this out?  And where are they now?  Precisely.

Once this guy leaves, there’s only one direction for your band to go: down

I think you get my point about Sobriety ruining bands.  And I didn’t even have to bring up the Amazingness that was Alice In Chains and how Layne was spared what they’ve become without him.  Thank you, heroin for keeping another great musician pure!

Before you jump to conclusions, I’m not advocating drug use or alcoholism.  I’m only advocating its use by trained professionals, i.e., musicians.  I’m tired of bands getting families and becoming sober and their music becoming unlistenable.  I mean, go listen to The Call of Ktulu.  Or the entirety of Master of Puppets.  Then go listen to St. Anger.  Everything that was wrong with St. Anger wasn’t necessarily the fault of Bob Rock.  Even Pink Floyd fell down after The Wall (especially after Roger Waters left).  While that may or not have been sobriety, it can also be linked to David Gilmour and Roger Waters having families.

Final great example of reasons to not sober up if you’re a musician: The Beatles.  Whatever you think of John and Yoko or Wings or Ringo’s solo stuff, The Beatles are arguably one of the greatest bands and some of the greatest writers of music in modern times.  And were they sober before they broke up?  Just watch The Yellow Submarine, or The Magical Mystery Tour.

Precisely

However, I still really like post-sobriety Metallica.  Why?  Because with their sobriety, they were wise enough to change the way they played and their influences.  Listen to their albums and really think about what each sounds like.  They are almost two different genres completely, and are classified as “Metal” only because of the low tuning, distorted guitars, and the drum beats.  Otherwise, their stuff through the 90’s is country/blues, just reimagined.

So what does any of this have to do with my nickname?

Wiki.  All of this stuff came (mostly) from memory.  I only had to look up official causes of death for Janis and a specific date or two.  I don’t know how or why, but I just have all of these random music facts in my head.  Lucy hates it, because everytime I listen to music I tell her “something cool” about how the song was made, or about the album, or the band.  So I finally put some of that info to good use.

And Seth, feel free to disagree.

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