Remembering Layne Staley

REMEMBERING LAYNE STALEY: “WE DIE YOUNG”

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Everything about “We Die Young” seems to portend a different theme that would become an integral part of the Alice in Chains story. In a way, “We Die Young” is the perfect overture for Alice in Chains’ storied career; the very first song of their very first album tells you basically everything you need to know about the band.

It’s all here, in a concise, no bullshit two-and-a-half minutes: nasty, down-tuned, groove stomp guitar riff; Layne Staley’s patent bellow; Jerry Cantrell’s melancholy vocal harmonies; lyrics with allusions to drug use and death; scorching, blues guitar solo; Sean Kinney’s tasteful, understated grooves. Layne’s voice, as important a part of all that as any, is the catalyst; who could pop this album on for the first time and not think to themselves, “Man… dude sounds messed up.” About the only AIC element that’s missing is an acoustic guitar, but really, who saw THAT twist coming years later?

Facelift‘s Side A is one of the most unfuckwithable Side A’s of all time; watch the above video all the way through (side note: WOW they look so young!) and upon hearing the final notes your brain will crave the opening guitar chug and snare hit on “Man in the Box” directly after it. Ditto for “Sea of Sorrow,” “Bleed the Freak,” “We Die Young,” “I Can’t Remember,” and the spooky, dreary “Love, Hate, Love,” all the way down the line. But it’s “We Die Young” that sets the mood perfectly, not just for Facelift and its Side A, but for Alice in Chains’ career.

-VN

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