Back in the day, I was a huge Cameron Crowe fan. Before I even knew his backstory of how he was a wunderkind teenage Rolling Stone journalist I liked his movies well enough and mostly because they were romantic comedies. See, I used to be a hopeless romantic (now just hopeless) and could highly appreciate a good relationship yarn. I didn’t watch soaps or shit like that but a decent romantic comedy film, sure. But throw in a killer soundtrack and I’m more than sold.
It was hard to see back in 1992 at how the impact of Grunge and the 90s Alternative music scene would make on the world of music for our generation. But looking back now, the Singles soundtrack is our American Graffiti in terms of a time capsule of the time. Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Mother Love Bone, Alice in Chains and of course, Soundgarden all contributed to Crowe’s love-letter to the early 90s Seattle scene and Pacific-Northwest grunge. The soundtrack alone helped usher in this bold new era of alternative music. I’m still shocked as to why Nirvana wasn’t on the soundtrack (signs point to Cobain declining the invite for some dickish reason) and I’m still scratching my head as to why Minneapolis Indie-Rocker Paul Westerberg was included, although I still really like his tunes on the soundtrack.
I actually recently watched Singles after a long overdue hiatus from it. I think I last saw it in the late 90s. It still is a great, entertaining movie. Half of me still liking it is the nostalgia and rush of memories from my high school days but that’s more or less the point. I watched this movie a tons of times back then. It was funny and even though I basically knew dick about real relationships, it practically made profound points to me. Some of the “advice” the movie gave for love and coupling is a bit flaky but in terms of honesty, I think the film tried hard to make a bold statement.
I’m an ardent defender of Grunge and Alternative music. And I hope I’m being unbiased enough to say that it’s not just because that was the music of my developing years. No, I think I can honestly say that that era of music was fresh and interesting, often times fulfilling thought-provoking lyrics and heavy sounds and dear lord—guitar solos! It took what was good from the hair metal era and combined it more so with the hard rock 70s era and gave us the last bastion of what I consider original-enough music with actual balls and talent. Say what you will about Pearl Jam but the dudes at least sound like a real rock n’ roll group. Compare them with DNCE or The Chainsmokers and you’ll see what I mean. Kee-rist, even modern-day “guitar-driven” groups like One Republic or Imagine Dragons can’t hold a candle to those 90s rockers. I can write a whole thesis on how Grunge/Alternative music was probably the last line of how Rock n’ Roll used to sound for the past 50 years. A small group of guys (and girls) who just played guitars and drums and wrote and sang some decent poetry without some over-produced sound. But I digress because the catalyst of this post is because today we lost a grunge forefather.
As of this writing, we still don’t know how Chris Cornell passed away at the young age of 52 but all I know is it was too soon. By now, Soundgarden and their grunge peers are considered “classic rock” but most of them are still going somehow. I can’t remember the last time I heard a new Pearl Jam song on the radio. I sure as shit don’t know the last time Alice in Chains had a hit single. All I know is they are treated as relics and if not for them getting inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, they would probably never be introduced to the younger generations. But Cornell I always admired, despite not being the biggest Soundgarden fan, because he seemed the most level-headed, business-savvy, and well, best-looking frontman of that class of musicians. And he sounds great too. I also admired how he had his hand in other good projects like Audioslave and Temple of the Dog (who were recently reunited and were keen on working on a new album—shame). I was also pleased with his Bond theme song “You Know My Name” from Casino Royale. He seemed to stay out of trouble and was a professional who worked well with others. I was looking forward to how Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and the others would sound in the next couple of decades actually. To me, those Seattle guys are like how my parents had The Stones, Led Zeppelin and The Who in the 70s. The fate of Soundgarden is more or less complete, like when Queen lost Freddie Mercury or The Doors lost Jim Morrison.
And I’m lost, behind
The words I’ll never find
And I’m left behind
As seasons roll on by…