I’m not here to write a eulogy for Scott Weiland, because I hate how when a musician dies—especially tragically—we roll through the same motions of platitudes and remembrances and nostalgia. Don’t get me wrong, I live my life looking backwards, but it seems cheap. At the same time, what else are you gonna do? I’m gonna listen to Spotify—there’s no point making a playlist, it’s all there, I might do it I might not—probably not—and I’m gonna try to talk about someone I didn’t know in the least through what they chose to leave behind.
Core was the first CD I ever owned. I don’t know why I chose that one first. I think I might have gotten it for Christmas. I remember being a little scared by the lyrics to “Dead and Bloated”, how it starts off with Scott on his own, singing about his birthday deathbed. I remember being intimidated by “Sex Type Thing” not because of the violent overtones, but because it was about sex and what was that even? I was 12. I was overwhelmed with signals and enticements. I was being sold on everything, TV and toys and video games and religion, and it wore me out. But no matter what, I could throw on my headphones and cue up a CD and instantly feel better. I’d let it run 2 or 3 times, just laying there in my room, eyes closed, trying to absorb as much as possible. There must be some neurological element, the way that music engaged my senses the way it did.
Suffice it to say, I didn’t know anything about music, but I felt plenty, and that’s where the current me was constructed: in the dark with Vs. or Purple or, Yeezus help me, Crash. Music was one of the only things that I could trust to carry me through a world full of bullies and indifference.
Core is one of the pillars of grunge, which is such an awful thing to say because grunge wasn’t real. It might have been at one point—though never by that name—but by the time 1992 had arrived, it was the fashionable term for everything. You couldn’t even narrow it down to a certain sound or aesthetic. Weezer were grunge; so were the Gin Blossoms. As trashy as that is, it ended up being beneficial since I wound up listening to a wide variety of music without having to define the genre or pigeonhole it somehow. It was just grunge. That’s what I liked. Genres, like any form of categorization, get in the way of being able to enjoy something for what it is. As soon as you put a label on it, you cheapen the whole experience.
So nobody was grunge, not really. STP certainly weren’t. They were this mess of panchromaticism—they used the strangest guitar voicings I’ve ever heard in commercial music—and rock fucking solid hooks. They’d write a riff in odd time and Scott would find a way to stick a melody to it in a way that felt completely natural, never butchering a word to fit or putting stress on the wrong syllable. I can’t help but think about the incredible amount of potential that was left to fade after Shangri-La Dee Da, a gem of a record where the band finally allowed themselves to wear their heavy Beatles influence on their sleeves a little more conspicuously. (Tell me “Days of the Week” isn’t straight out of the Lennon/McCartney playbook, or “Pretty Penny”, or their cover of “Revolution” if you need it spelled out for you.)
(Dang, the bassline on “Tripping On a Hole In a Paper Heart” is incredible.)
The last strains of what I’m sure is some remastered bullshit are fading—you’re fucking with history if you strip the sludge off, it’s exactly the part we were drawn to—and it’s too late to do anything about it. So I’m gonna turn it off and go to bed, and figure out the rest tomorrow.