As the era of Hair Bands and Glam Rock came to a close; baby boomers took a back seat making way for a new generation. Generation X. Also known as “Gen X’ers”, these kids had spent their childhood on the side of milk cartons, being latch key kids or just kind of feeling as if they had to fend for themselves. Their baby boomer parents were working on the American dream, women had jobs outside of the home, the houses were getting bigger, the cars faster, and the kids unhappier.
Grunge: an offshoot of heavy metal
- Alice In Chains
- Temple of the Dog
- Screaming Trees
Flannel Shirts and Stomp Boxes
In theory, heavy metal and grunge are two different things yet with the their thick midrange tones and stomp box created distortion and fuzz they sound eerily similar for the unschooled heavy metal listener. Songs about demons and devils began to blend with punk rock themes about angst and social isolation, and anarchy; possibly a product of those early childhood years where parents we always on the go, off to work. It was “time to make the donuts” and young Gen X’ers were left to fend for themselves.
This fusion of hardcore punk rock and heavy metal music gave us the gift of Kurt Cobain’s guitar sounds and Eddy Vedder’s wailing, high pitched notes. Stage show theatrics and make-up were left behind for thrift shop clothes and unkempt hair again. A cycle repeating, only this time instead of bell bottoms they wore flannel shirts from Good Will.
The Glam Metal of the 80’s had brought us Poison’s idea of “life in the fast lane” and when our generation went down in a burning fiery pile of metal we came back in full force with lyrics about self-loathing and broken homes. The American Dream was falling into despair as Baby Boomers wanted more, more , more and Gen X’ers just wanted to feel like we belonged.
We found a place to Belong: in the music
The concerts were awesome! No more stage antics, just loud, angry music, and mosh pits! Standing in front of the stage a giant circle of bodies would form, round and round they would go. High energy, jumping and fists flying. Yet, still there was a general sense of comradery, where bigger guys in the pit would look out for the smaller guys. No one actually wanted to hurt, we just wanted to express the anger we felt, and together we could.
The 27 Club and the Unthinkable
Kurt Cobain was our hero, some say the father of the grunge movement. His lyrics let us know understood how we felt. He just “got us”. An entire generation of kids, around the world were moved to thrash our heads around and scream the lyrics, in our bedrooms, at the concert, on the bus. It didn’t matter, it was who we were. At 27 years old, as many icons before him had, our hero left this world. He chose to exit, stage left, for the last time. Just as in the lyrics of the song he sang, we were abandoned one last time; and on April 8th 1994 music changed forever once again as the news reached us. Kurt Cobain was dead. Suicide. A shotgun blast to the head, a life had ended and gave way to a controversy that to this day still divides us.