While scanning the radio today, I came across an unmistakable grunge beauty from the alternative rock shifter Nirvana. “Heart Shaped Box” was the song and its sound really allowed me to ponder its influence on listeners. About halfway through the piece my analysis began to take place and I recovered an interesting fact: the sound has a “sore” feeling to it. The flood of emotion that comes with the chorus flows as if it were escaping a good bruising-making punch. It’s truly painful. It allows one to become vulnerable.
Seeking comfort is never a painful thing.
Assessing Nirvana’s 90s contemporaries leaves me with other methods to explain the comfort factor. The next culprit is “Plush” from early Stone Temple Pilots. I can detect so much that merges with the purity of nature. The introduction of steel plated notes easily associates with the gloom of gray skies. What is one usually reminded of at the thought of a cloudy day? The coziness of indoor activity or dormancy. The lamps glowing with warmth while evergreens tower outside the windows. The sound of raindrops hammering a roof.
It’s an incredible, safe escape.
Need I say More? Maybe.
I am completely aware of the ideas that have been long associated with this form of music. Various bands from that era automatically correlate with the feeling of gloom and despair. It was almost a given considering the shape of the U.S. economy when grunge grew into popularity. It was almost natural for listeners to feel out of touch, low, and somewhat confused due to real issues. Comfort was nearly a necessity. With albums titled Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness and grungy garbs of comfy flannel, who could resist the temptation to dwell in that way?
Underneath the sorrow that grunge music ensued, sister bands that were a bit lighter and less heavy on one’s emotional state were in existance. These tunes seemed to be somewhat “stripped” and their vulnerability showed in the absence of the rougher instrumentation. The power in the songs resulted from their down-to-earth quality. It was a stark contrast with the decade bursting with gloss and glamour prior to it. With the state of economy then (and now) people felt the urge to turn to simplicity.
The best example that comes to mind is the Red Hot Chili Peppers tune “Soul to Squeeze.” The vibe it channels has such a laid back air to it. It makes it difficult not to feel consoled. It is easy to feel comfortable with being vulnerable. It’s only natural.
So there it is spread in all its ironic glee. Although grunge music and other alt. rock developed under some challenging circumstances, they still left room for one to grow into a delightfully dependent manner. Both rock subgenres had actually left double methods in producing comfort. It was okay to be exposed. It was all right to let emotion come and leave reality.
Now, I rest my case.