The Rise Of The Grunge

It was a raw, heavy abrasive sound born out of geographic isolation, boredom and economic despair. The grunge revolution began in Seattle, Washington. Grunge, sometimes referred to as the Seattle Sound is a sub-genre of alternative rock that emerged during the mid-1980s.

Seattle was one weird place because it was sort of a city, not many bands made their way to. We were just kind of left with our own devices to create our own community. It had a lot to do with people staying in garages due to bad weather and making a lot of noise. Vandalize, smoke pot and listen to music.
~ Band members, Nirvana and Soundgarden

The early grunge icons claim to be inspired by punk rock and heavy metal bands like Venom, Black flag, Black Sabbath, Rolling Stones, Motorhead. Fusing the sonic distortion (of electric guitar) of metal with onstage chaos of punk rock. Characterized by the raucous guitar sound, strong riffs, heavy drumming and lazy vocal delivery. Lyrics are typically angst-filled, often addressing themes such as social alienation, apathy, confinement, and a desire for freedom. Grunge became commercially successful in the first half of the 1990s, due mainly to the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind, Pearl Jam’s Ten, Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger, Alice in Chains’ Dirt, and Stone Temple Pilots’ Core. The success of these bands boosted the popularity of alternative rock and made grunge the most popular form of hard rock music at the time. Although most grunge bands had disbanded or faded from view by the late 1990s, their influence continues to affect modern rock music.

Back to Seattle, by 1986, many bands had enough material to record entire albums but few could afford studio time. So a local producer put out a compilation called Deep six featuring the bands Green river, Melvins, Malfunkshun, Skin yard, Soundgarden, The U-men.

Deep six was a really good snapshot of what was happening in Seattle. It announced to the world that Seattle has this wild and crazy and energetic scene. Along the way somebody decided to call it Grunge.

Grunge is dirt and scum, which is a descriptive word for the raspy rock sound.
~ Mark Arm; vocalist, Green River
who called his own group; “Pure Grunge, Pure shit”.


70s heavy band – Long hair, jammin’, Zeppelin..that’s what they sounded like and they were good at it. ~ Charles Aaron, Music journalist.

Two people who loved the music scene but didn’t play started a label called Sub Pop and released Soundgarden’s – Screaming life as it’s first record.

 

By 1988, Sub Pop had put out records by half a dozen bands including Green River – Green River made little commercial impact outside of Seattle, but what the band lacked in commercial success it made up for in influence. In general, Green River is widely regarded as being one of the originators of the grunge. The band split due to difference of opinion among the members and bassist Jeff Ament along with Guitarist Stone Gossard started playing with the vocalist Andrew Wood (loved for his humor, on-stage acts and vocals; often claimed to be surpassing that of Eddie Vedder’s on online forums.) to form Mother Love bone – A band which made deliberate attempts to become popular. Following Andrew Wood’s death from heroin overdose on the eve of Mother Love Bone’s major debut in 1990, Jeff and Gossard soon met Eddie Vedder and founded Pearl Jam – which as we know catapulted to rock-stardom.

Simultaneously during this time, a hundred and fifty miles from Seattle, in a town called Aberdeen; Buzz Osborne, from The Melvins introduced his friend Kurt Cobain to punk rock magazines, bands and concerts. Kurt started playing with a fellow Melvin’s fan Krist Novoselic in the year 1986. In the following year they were calling themselves Nirvana. After recording a 10 song demo, the band was signed by Sub Pop. The debut album “Bleach” was released in the year 1989. Following that, it wasn’t long when the Nirvana took the nation by storm with it’s second album Nevermind – first grunge album to feature highly on lists like Billboard 200 and the Rolling Stones list.

Welcome_to_Aberdeen

There really is no “grunge” style besides the fact that they came from Seattle and had distorted guitars. Is Grunge just a term to reference a certain time in history? We leave that for the rock enthusiasts to wonder about.

References:
VH1 News Special: Grunge * Grunge Wiki * Nirvana Wiki

Advertisements

Layla, You’ve got me on my knees

Eric Clapton’s Layla and Layla (Unplugged)

Pattie Boyd, a model and photographer by profession was casted in a Beatles movie “A Hard Day’s Night” and was wooed by George Harrison (Lead Guitarist, The Beatles) on the sets.

You are so pretty, will you marry me? If not marry, will you at least go for a dinner with me?

They marry 2 years hence.

Something in the way she moves, attracts me like no other lover..
Something in the way she woos me..

George composed “Something” in 1969 for her then wife, Pattie. The track is often labelled as the best love song of the time. Meanwhile, George and Eric Clapton (Rock and blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, 2nd rank in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.) compose together and become close friends. Consequently, Eric often gets to meet Pattie. Falls in love and composes Layla for her darling in the year 1969.

“We met secretly at a flat in South Kensington. Eric had asked me to come because he wanted me to listen to a new number he had written. He switched on the tape machine, turned up the volume and played me the most powerful, moving song I had ever heard. It was Layla, about a man who falls hopelessly in love with a woman who loves him but is unavailable.”

~ Pattie Boyd

Layla was released in 1970 as the title track of the album “Layla and other assorted love songs” by Derek And The Dominos and stands at 27th place on the Rolling Stones list.

Eric confesses love to Pattie in the presence of George and on following several other occasions. When Pattie did not fulfill his desire of running away with him, Eric goes on to do heroine for subsequent 3-4 years. Miraculously, Eric’s attempts to woo George’s wife away from him did not dent their friendship. 

Sometime during their marriage George visited India and was greatly influenced by Indian classical music and traditions. In fact following his visit he started leading the Beatles towards “folk rock”. Checkout the Sitar introduction in Norwegian Wood. He even played at a concert in NYC with Pandit Ravi Shankar.

To top it all, he was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in India, in a private ceremony,  as in Hindu tradition. Hell Yeah! Amongst other things, George was also intrigued by Lord Krishna, so much that he even developed an association with the Hare Krishna Movement. As Pattie points out in her biography “Wonderful Tonight” (another Clapton’s track), George took his fondness for Krishna at whole another level.

“But, in fact, by then our relationship was in trouble. Since a trip to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in India in 1968, George had become obsessive about meditation. He was also sometimes withdrawn and depressed. My moods started to mirror his and at times I felt almost suicidal.
And there were other women, which really hurt me. George was fascinated by the god Krishna who was always surrounded by young maidens. He came back from India wanting to be some kind of Krishna figure, a spiritual being with lots of concubines. He actually said so.”

Infidelities followed. Pattie is still in the now not-so-happy marriage, which finally breaks off in the year 1977. Pattie goes on to marry Eric Clapton. This marriage too breaks apart after a time and that is another story, details of which we choose to omit.

This is not a celebrity-gossip-of-the-1960s blog. A woman whom the most desirable men of that time fell head over heels in love with. A woman who inspired some of the best records of the decade.

Pattie was George Harrison’s Something and Eric Clapton’s Layla.

Something to ponder about. Shoot up the track Layla again and see if the lyrics fit.

Layla; you’ve got me on my knees,
Layla; I’m begging darling please,
Layla: Won’t you ease my worried mind..

                                                             ~ Eric Clapton

References:
Pattie Boyds Account * The Layla Story * George Harrison wiki * Eric Clapton’s wiki