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“Despite all my Rage, I’m still just a Rat in a Cage”

Posted on August 24, 2018

“Despite all my Rage, I’m still just a Rat in a Cage”

Several weeks ago, I was engaged in a heated conversation with my millennial friend, Jeff Somers, about the music of the 1990’s. Jeff, whose taste in most everything surpasses mine, argued that compared to the 1980’s and 2000’s, the music of the 90’s had little lasting impact on music or society. His words were blasphemy for anyone who divides their childhood development into: before Nirvana’s Nevermind/post-Nevermind.

I reacted a little more strongly in defense of my proud Gen-X music due to the fact that right now the angsts of the music of my youth is one of my primary coping skills. Besides using Nine Inch Nails Terrible Lie and Sin to release stress after listening to the news (especially concerning the Alex Jones trial – I try not to hate anyone, but…). In a moment of mindful reflection, I realized that I’m searching the cassettes of my youth for something real.

Call me old-fashion, but I long for the time where “selling-out” to corporations and providing background music for commercials was judged harshly instead of being the primary goal of one’s art. Grunge, at least in my opinion, provided a brief relief from the relentless synthesizers of 80’s pop and the commercialized music of the 2000’s. A handful of bands, mainly from Seattle, held up a huge (if only brief) middle finger to the greed and shallowness so many of use to associate with growing up in the 1980’s. Pearl Jam sued Ticketmaster, Nirvana could care less about radio play, and Metallica even sued their fans!

I was a sophomore in high school living in Franklin, Indiana when Nirvana released Nevermind. At the time all my friends were listening to Milli Vanilli and Vanilla Ice while I was surviving on Guns n Roses and Justice for All by Metallica. Suddenly, whatever was going on in the faraway land of the Pacific Northwest crashed into my consciousness like a wrecking ball.

I’m so happy, ’cause today I’ve found my friends

They’re in my head

I’m so ugly, that’s okay, ’cause so are you

We’ve broke our mirrors

Sunday morning, is every day for all I care

And I’m not scared

Light my candles, in a daze, ’cause I’ve found God

All of a sudden, my scream for something different got lyrics!

In this new era where so many artists compete for sponsorships, commercials, and “likes” on Facebook and with a reality TV president the angst, frustration, and search for something real finds a new power for me.  So many of the musical geniuses of my youth died in their struggles with pain and addiction. Fortunately, they left us a gift and 25 years later give voice once again to my scream for something genuine and real!

I’m wondering if anyone in my generation or others are finding solace in the music of your youth. If so please comment as I would love to hear your story!

4 responses to ““Despite all my Rage, I’m still just a Rat in a Cage””

  1. Ann says:

    Yes! I was way into grunge during my high school and early college years. Losing some of these guys has been heartbreaking. But the music remains, and it’s most definitely something I stay connected with to help me channel rage in these days of trump and his ilk.

  2. Beth says:

    Ha! This is funny, because my boyfriend is really into Smashing Pumpkins. We went to their concert on Mon night and I kept thinking about this blog.
    I’m a Chris Cornell fan. I drove cross country listening to Soundgarden, (Back in the day when you made a “mixed tape” a band that wasn’t afraid to make the music they liked with no care for commercial success).

    And all the effort made to get a mixed tape together, hours of your life…or to buy an album for that matter. Go to the record store, buy the album, sit in your room all night, going through every inch of it, hoping for lyrics and pics of your favorite band mates. Now, you just click on a button. It’s amazing and it’s great, I don’ t have to buy the albums all over, but it’s something younger generations will just never know. (I am old)

    I remember in my 20’s thinking, I wanted to be a social worker because it was somewhat anti establishment.
    I’m currently practically only listening to Soundgarden, Audioslave, Temple of the Dog..all Chris Cornell; Jane’s Addiction, Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots. It’s interesting to listen to these bands today, with my almost 50 y/o perspective. It was even more interesting to sit at a concert, something I haven’t done probably since my 20’s, likely due to life and lack of interest in any band that I’d like to spend money on to go and see.

    To lose some great talent so young, Kurt, Chris, Scott, it’s pretty sad, thankfully, they are etched in time.

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