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THE GRUNGE MATCH - 063

Match 063:

When compiling The Grunge Four Song Challenge Series, I ran into some obvious problems.  As far as studio albums go, Nirvana put out three, Alice In Chains has five, Soundgarden has seven (counting "Screaming Life/Fopp" as their first) and Pearl Jam has ten (no pun intended).  While Nirvana and Soundgarden have enough B-Side material to (technically) make up the difference, Alice In Chains fell a little short.  So today's match (and for the next 11 following), I have to bend the rules a bit.  (read: BIG CHEATS!!!)

I had to include "Boggy Depot".

Hear me out.  Yes, it's a Jerry Cantrell solo album, and yes, this is technically cheating, but:

1. Sean Kinney plays drums on the whole thing
2. Mike Inez plays bass on three songs

So using that as gauge, half of Alice In Chains is on all twelve tracks, and three quarters appeared on 25% of the album.  We'll get to every last non-repeated track from "Music Bank" and the entirety of their "Live" album, but even then, sticking "Boggy Depot" in was a messy necessity.

I also came up with this plan six months before I read the Wikipedia page on the self-titled album and found out it was originally conceived as a Jerry Cantrell solo album to begin with.  Point is: I'm doing the best I could, and I could be doing worse.  (I didn't include "Degradation Trip" if you're asking, because that was with Mike Bordin and Robert Trujillo.  That really would've been cheating.)

So anyway, here's what we've got on the docket today:

Jerry Cantrell "Dickeye" (1998)
Nirvana "On A Plain" (Unplugged) (1994)
Pearl Jam "All Those Yesterdays" (1998)
Soundgarden "Like Suicide" (1994)

Hmmm.  In a convenient twist, Jerry Cantrell is still first alphabetically, so I don't have to switch up the order I listen to these.  Neat.

"Dickeye" is kind of obnoxious in a way.  It's a great opener that gets you ready for an album that really doesn't live up to the ambitions it leads you to expect.  It's also got a chorus that's ripped off from a Paul McCartney lyric ("Born traitor").  But those are minor quibbles when looking at the song by itself.  It's a bit basic, but this is 90's rock, kid.  It's supposed to dispense with the pretense.  This is more...I wouldn't say uplifting because of the lyrics about murder and noir, but it just seems sunnier than Alice In Chains.  It seems happy to be here, and it's ready to rock.  "Dickeye" also sports some pretty sweet vocal harmonies and a nice solo.  Thumbs up.

"On A Plain" (Unplugged) is an interesting take on the original.  Without the distortion, it really brings to the forefront the exhaustion and exasperation of the song's narrator.  The lyrics always told this story, but robbed of the attitude that came with making it a gut punching pop rock song does wonders for telling the story.

I have a bit of a complicated relationship with "All Those Yesterdays".  On its surface, it's a sleepy, kind of anticlimactic way to end an album, and that's not a wholly unfair assessment on paper.  But...look, I didn't have any kind of real relationship with this song; it was just another album track lost inside a career-spanning torrent when I decided to catch up on Pearl Jam circa 2010.

Then my shrink quoted this song to me during a session, and it really opened my eyes to how I was punishing myself for being me.  "Don't you think you've done enough?"  Well, no.  I'm so far behind all my peers and I've got to run to catch up to them.  Hell, I'm 30 and I'm still in college.  I... "Don't you think you ought to rest?"  NO!  I haven't EARNED it!  I have to fucking GRIND!  Even though I can't handle being alive and I'm on antidepressants and I push everyone away because being around people is hard and... "What are you running from | Taking pills to get along | Creating walls to call your own | So no one catches you | Doing all the things that | We all do."

I'm not the only one who feels this way.  I thought I was because of the loser-tastic life I've led and how badly I just want to be as good as everyone else, but as it turns out I'm making things worse by stressing about every single thing.  It's a lesson that has been both incredibly helpful the four times a year I remember it, and pathetically useless the other 361 days of the year I forget it.  I need to remember it more; I might be able to make something of myself someday if I do. 

Point is, it's a pedestrian song with an Earth-shattering message (at least for me).  It says in a very plain, earnestly encouraging way: "At the end of the day, you're normal.  Hell, you might even be okay."

"Like Suicide" is the brooding, soulful meditation that brings "Superunknown" to a close.  If there's any song it's close to in Soundgarden's catalogue, it's "Mind Riot".  It feels like a spiritual successor, in a way.  "Mind Riot" is the beginning of the storm and "Like Suicide" is looking back on the damage a year later.  It's calm acceptance, accounting of events, a bit of angst and emotional swell, tempered in the end by the memory that what's done is already done.  It's the final processing of the experience before moving on.  I wouldn't even say grief because the tone is so vague in spite of the title and chorus.  It feels more like completing the last step before moving on.  The "lived like murder but she died just like suicide" line doesn't have to be literal.  It was the 90's.  I still don't know what the fuck a razorblade suitcase is, and neither does Gavin Rosdale.

"Like Suicide": 4
"Dickeye": 3
"All Those Yesterdays": 2
"On A Plain" (Unplugged): 1

TOTALS:

Alice In Chains: 163
Pearl Jam: 162
Soundgarden: 162
Nirvana: 143

Alice In Chains has taken the lead!  This is the first lead change since Matchup 003!  And to top it all off, Soundgarden has tied Pearl Jam!  Things are getting interesting.  (Especially since Alice In Chains took the lead with a Jerry Cantrell song...)  Tomorrow, Soundgarden starts a long stretch of B-Sides, and Pearl Jam gets "Binaurial".  Stay tuned!

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