At the center of every album is a musical thesis. Alice in Chains “Unplugged” takes an already introspective band and strips away the convenient weight of electric guitars. By doing so, the words mean and reveal more than ever before. When this album was released, it came at the height of the Grunge movement. For many, this brand of rock & roll was nothing more than sad noise from Seattle, WA. This album along with MTV appearances under the same concept from Pearl Jam and Nirvana showed the masses that this music was something more. It was connecting with a teenage angst that had been bubbling for more than a decade.
This album also exposed the raw and real nature of Layne Staley. Buried in the sounds of one of the heavier bands to come out of the early 90’s, were powerful and brooding lyrics about everything from Vietnam to suicide. In an unplugged setting, those lyrics are front and center. They demand to be heard and are given greater meaning thanks to fantastic acoustic support. This is one of those albums that is hard to walk away from and not be changed in some shape or fashion.
I have watched this episode of MTV “Unplugged” and listened to the album dozens and dozens of times. Every single time, it leaves me aching and longing. The further we get from the untimely death of Staley, the more it hurts. I hear the pain in his voice and I long for something that will never come. I long for the help he so desperately needed. In the end, this album’s final gift is a clarion call. We would do right to be more kind to each other. Every person has weight on their shoulders. Some are better equipped than others to go to battle with these challenges. For those, who the weight is crushing, they should know they don’t have to do this life alone.
Be good to each other,
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