Pop Culture Under The Microscope!

Reach Marc at: Marc@MarcMason.com

Site Feed

Buy Quality Marc Merchandise!

<< current

Marc Mason is a freelance writer based in Tempe, AZ.

Monday, June 23, 2014  

I was 24 years old, a year out of college, living in a run-down house near the school. I rented one of the four bedrooms – the only one that had its own bathroom – and split the utilities with the schizophrenic down the hall and a rotating cast of foreign and graduate students who occupied the other rooms. The kitchen stove only had two working burners, and the oven didn’t govern temperature, heating until maximum any time you turned it on. The lime green countertops gave away the age of the décor, and the roaches were an omnipresent reminder of how much on the cheap we were all choosing to live.

It was not an optimal time in my life.

Often, you could find me crashed on my loveseat, a book propped on my chest, my eyes deeply engrossed in the text. I was working a half-time job, four days a week, and I had a lot of time on my hands but not much money. What I did have, I spent (usually) on the usual crap of youth. Movies. Comics.

And music. God, did I buy a lot of music.

Wish I could say I was more discriminate about what I bought, but frankly a lot of my choices went wrong. But there were gems. I had started gaining interest in the stuff coming out of Seattle when Nirvana landed in ’91, quickly followed by Pearl Jam’s “Ten.” But it wasn’t until three years later that things got really good – no, scratch that – they got great.
March of ’94 was when “Superunknown” by Soundgarden was released, and I took little notice of it at first. What I had heard on the radio was pretty good, mind you, but I was on a budget and tired of getting burned. But a co-worker I told this to looked at me like I was insane and demanded I buy the disc. He even offered to buy it back from me if I didn’t like it. So, what the hell? I picked it up.

I tore it open late that night, popping it into my player and hitting play, just hoping that most of it would be listenable. The opening chords of “Let Me Drown” kicked in and suddenly… I knew. I just knew.

The book got put down on the floor. I turned out the lights and began to listen. Not just with my ears, because that was not the sole intent of the album. I swear on my life that I felt like Soundgarden was trying to talk to my inner being. The music, the lyrics… I began mainlining them. Each song seemed to speak to a different part of my life and the confusion I was feeling about what direction I should take with my future. In a moment of horrific clarity, I wondered if what I was feeling was akin to what the crazy guys who claimed that they were instructed to kill by heavy metal albums felt.

Jesus, did that scare the hell out of me!

As the final notes of “Like Suicide” played out, and I dried my eyes as I thought about a friend who had been having some mental health issues, I realized that I could not go to bed. Not yet. So I walked over to the player and restarted the disc, listening to it all over again in the darkness.

Hard to believe that was 20 years ago.

For months, I would, on nights when it was possible, lay in the dark and just listen to “Superunknown.” As my life shifted and changed, so did the meanings I took from the various songs. As I began to realize that, I discovered a new layer to the album – it was like great literature, something that evolves with the maturity and experiences of the reader, or in this case, listener. No other music in my collection did that. Not like this. The power of this album was incredible.

A few weeks ago, Soundgarden released a 20-year anniversary edition, re-mastered for modern digital stereo systems. I bought it, of course. How could I not? It arrived this past weekend, but it has taken me until this evening to crack it open and press play.

God. Damn.

I’m a far better, stronger, and wiser man now, but the power of this particular piece of music remains undeniable. The lyrics remain some of the finest rock lyrics of the modern era. The music is muscular and dives beneath your skin within seconds. The vocals are remarkable, hitting notes few singers even now can reach. It is a piece of pristine, glorious alternative rock that stands the time as the best album released in its particular decade, and as one of the true all-time greats.

For what the album did to carry me through some very tough times, I will always be grateful. For what the album did in helping me learn about and understand myself better, I can never show my appreciation enough. And for the album to continue to show me the amazing effect that music can have on the depths of my soul? I do not know if I have the words to describe how much that means to me. I just know that I am glad it is still with me.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to turn out the lights and listen again.

10:05 PM

(0) comments

This page is powered by Blogger.