It was a time. A time of quite a few things that may or may not have ever been cool. Such as.... baggy t-shirts. Open flannels over those baggie t-shirts. Plaid overalls. The kind that you only wear one side up, and there's an embroidered street sign on the front. It was a time of LA gear. Tapered Jeans. Layered socks... that somehow survived the 80s, and came with us to the 90s. Including teased hair. (if you were from NJ like I was... your hair grew teased. I have no answers for you on how. Ask my neighbor Tony's wife. She may know.)
It was a time of puffy paint. Where it was socially acceptable to have different gems, beads, and studs protruding from your articles of otherwise flat clothing... and this was called bedazzled. It became popular to shave racing stripes into the sides of boys haircuts. Tattoos still meant you were badass. So then people got more. And it caught on to become too common to really be badass anymore... and pagers didn't mean you were a drug dealer. It meant you were popular. 'Reality TV' had one show.
It was a time where the economy was actually growing! We did have a little war, that continues (in my opinion.. though geography, dynasty, and temper tantrums have changed..) to this day. We cloned a sheep. Eep! DNA was introduced into the court of law. The internet was invented by Al Gore. Er... someone else. Nintendo became my brother's social demise. We were reminded of the sinking of the Titanic, through sex and drama. The World Series was canceled for the first time ever. (sad sad sad). And the show Friends quickly made everyone want to move to NYC, and try to support themselves on coffee shop wages. Or rather, everyone wanted to be Rachel and/or sleep with her.
There are many things during this time that fashionably one may regret. This decade had something going for itself above all else. Above anything listed previously that may have sent you down a spiraling stairway to memory lane and nostalgaville. The 90s had something going for it that puts this decade at the top for me.... and makes me feel lucky to have molded my adolescence around it.
It had music.
The 90s easily changed the face of music forever. The rock was rock. The rap was dangerous (Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G., were killed in 1996, and 1997 respectively), punk was dirty, pop was sexy (thank you madonna..), Metal was still scary, female fronted bands started to take the charts by rapid storm based on their own songwriting, it was cool for a chick to shave her head (thank you sinead), a jam band emerged with the brilliant idea to record a studio album skimming down each song to a listening level so that you didn't have to get stoned to buy a CD, at the same time keeping their euphoric song lengths at live venues (thank you dave matthews), music videos were as expressive as the songs themselves and MTV actually showed them! and people actually watched them, and the idea of auditioned bands made a startling come back.
And Grunge took the stage.
The number of 'grunge/alternative' bands is really immeasurable. And has since altered completely. I believe only a small number of continuing musicians still call themselves alternative. Some that I feel were birthed in this era definitely should be noted. Nirvana being a staple beyond staples. Pearl Jam, Bush, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, Sound Garden, NIN, Marilyn Manson, Hole, Candlebox, Faith No More, Dinosaur Jr., Green Day, The Foo Fighters (one year after the death of Kurt Cobain lead man of Nirvana (1994), Nirvana's drummer Dave Grohl started this band), Gin Blossoms, Garbage, The Counting Crows, Live, Weezer, Veruca Salt, Rage Against the Machine, Presidents of the United States of America, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soul Asylum, Third Eye Blind, the lists goes on.......
Many of these bands were formed from intense emotions of anger, sadness, lack of belonging, pain, and an inherent need to express that tone through a new sound. In many cases they collected a few friends together, and tried the best they could to muster up some musicianship in the instruments they chose. Many of the songs are written extremely unconventionally, and are performed as simple as possible. Yet brilliant all the same. The Presidents of the United States of America used a lead guitar with all but 3 strings removed. And a base with only two strings. (I believe.)
A band that climbed the charts with their debut self-titled album release in 1997, after a struggled start in the earlier 90s, was so lucky to be in their peak at the time of this turning age of music. Third Eye Blind had several hits that would easily get stuck in your head. Speaking of drugs, sex, the beach, and love... They had a lyrical brilliance that was hard to come by in a debut album of such a young band.
My personal favorite lines are from their initial hit Semi-charmed Life, 'I believe in the sand beneath my toes... the beach gives a feeling, and earthy feeling, I believe in the faith that grows, and the four right chords can make me cry, when I'm with you I feel like I could die and I would be alright... alright...'
Well, they will be releasing their fourth album this year. You may have heard some from the second, and nothing from the third for good reason. They are in a downward spiral to no things good. Maybe they've sobered up. Or like Edder Vedder did after becoming rich and happy... had writer's block. Without pain and drugs it seems that little is possible in the world of rock n' roll.
As far as the music industry goes, if you're signed by a major record label, they generally release a 'single' before the album comes out to create a buzz, and collect reviews from some of the major press. Guiding the consumer to a healthy choice in purchasing their goods.
If you are Third Eye Blind however, this year will be no good to you. Either your PR people have their head in the toilet, or you haven't been able to write a hit since well... you got rich and happy.
They've already decided and released the first single from this Ursa Major album.
It's called Non-Dairy Creamer.
I'm not kidding. I got a little excited when I heard the DJ say she was about to spin the new long awaited release from the band. And then I was quickly disappointed when I heard the tune that has pushed them over into the edge of non-musical, non-caring, maybe this will sell, musical oblivion. He compares his love (I think) to non-dairy creamer. (Not to say a clever analogy based on the mixture of milk products isn't sometimes clever). I do think they need a rewrite. Or a make-over. Or maybe just to be put out of their misery in some shape or form.
I cannot honestly believe that they are seriously airing this. Though, the most ridiculous part of this song might be where he starts shouting 'Young Gay Republicans!' Wow. I smell a Grammy here.
Or perhaps the re-use of the oh so similar line 'what's it gonna be?' sang in much the similar fashion to 'How's it gonna be?' and I think they may even edge on the same kinds of chords. I hang my head in musical shame for these guys.
In case you haven't heard the song yet. Don't bother. And even if I listed the lyrics here.... it would be a waste of text.
So I just end this post with a bitter sadness on my lyrical heart.