Nothing safeGrunge brought us tons of overrated bands, ranging from Pearl Jam, who are just about unlistenable AM rock fuzzed up a bit, a sort of heavier Nickelback, through Soundgarden, horribly overwrought plodding rock, to Nirvana, possibly the most overrated band ever, with one decent album, Nevermind, and a bunch of material that does nothing but demonstrate just how thin Kurt Cobain's talent was, particularly In utero, which has one or two okay songs, but is largely rubbish.
Floating in the sea of meh was Alice in Chains. On the whole, you could sum them up as dreary angst-rock, which mostly leaves you feeling "what the fuck is that incredibly rich, pampered fool whining about?". To which the answer was probably how difficult Saturday night is when you can't get a fix. Like many grungers, Layne Staley fucked his life away on smack, finally managing to die of it. These people are held up as heroes, but kids, if you get lucky as they did, choose life. There is nothing glamorous about crawling around on the floor, strung out and begging for drugs. Nothing wonderful about lying and cheating, making your whole life smack, smack and more smack.
So Alice in Chains had a few decent songs, in particular Would?, Them bones, Down in a hole, which I have on my iPod, but rarely listen to.
I rarely listen to them because I am sad. I am not sad because I cannot get a fix, or because I wished Daddy love me so much that I needed smack to kill the pain. Not even because I worry that my talent will run out on me, or that I might be a sellout. I am sad because my life is horrible. If I had a million-selling album, my life would be less horrible, not more. I've never really had much time for ultrarich misery peddlers. I remember one time seeing an interview with Annie Lennox. The whole thing was about how perfect her life was, with a wonderful husband, a couple of kids and several mill in the bank. And the cunt warbling on about how horrible life is. Yeah right.
I don't deplore people for finding their lives tough. Lives can be tough. And my problem with Annie Lennox disappears if she stops claiming to be an artist. If she says, yeah, I'm just making pretty music to hoover up all the dollars I can, then I mind her a lot less.
But kids, art has to be authentic. That is not negotiable. It has to be authentic because that is how it is defined. I wouldn't go as far as saying that art is anything you create that is authentic, but nearly so. Not everything that you create has to be art. A cheese sandwich is created. But it's not art.
Although, I suppose, you could argue that it's authentic. (And obv. a cheese sandwich is only art if Damien Hirst sells it to some rich twat for a mill.) So authenticity is necessary but probably not sufficient.
So I don't listen to Down in a hole much, although I do like it a lot, and it really does sound like being down in a hole. It feels to me like a companion piece to Too far down, Bob Mould's meditation on depression. I don't listen to that much either. I'm not a goth: I don't like wallowing in it, believe it or not. I want to be cheerful and well.
The other day, I was talking to Mrs Zen. I was telling her about bipolar disorder, which is a fancy way of saying you have ups and downs. If I went to a psychologist, they would agree that I had it. She said, why don't you take drugs to fix it? And I said, not that I should even have bothered, because what's the point? She doesn't listen to anything that anyone says to her. Most people don't. They simply filter what you say through a mesh formed from what they already think, and that means anything contrary gets mangled and is useless to them. More to the point, Mrs Zen simply doesn't listen anyway. She often accuses me of one thing or another, and I say, but I talked to you about that last year, and she's like, no you didn't. And I'm left saying, but it's like we're in two completely different universes. In mine, I said x y z, and in yours, I never did. So I said, the thing is, the drug is lithium and all it does is level out your moods. I've seen it. The person doesn't get so down, but their edge is taken away. My edge is the only thing I like about myself. Fuck me, if I was drugged, I'd be like her! Fuck that. Anyway, I self-medicate.