Remembering Layne Staley

REMEMBERING LAYNE STALEY: “AGAIN”

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Layne Staley only recorded six studio albums in five years — and yet his inimitable voice influenced an entire generation of singers. To commemorate his death ten years ago, members of the MetalSucks staff will be discussing their favorite Staley performances throughout the day.

Confession: “Again” is actually not my favorite song by Alice in Chains, though the it will always hold a place in my heart. As a kid, most music outside of the operatic or theatrical spectrums was forbidden in my house, and most fervently was anything “rock” related. Not the worst way to grow up – at least it wasn’t country. Still, I knew I didn’t want to live my life listening solely to Madame Butterfly or Scheherazade. No, I knew there was something else, waiting patiently for me to discover… and discover I did. Flipping through the channels one morning, I found that MTV was not blocked, and I happened upon some of the most disturbing images my eyes had crossed in their ten years of existence. I was slightly horrified, but more so intrigued by the video for “Again,” and the sounds that accompanied it.

It was foreign to me and I loved it. A few more chords were played when my dad realized what was going on in the living room and stormed in to shut off the television. I spent years trying to figure out who that was on the TV that morning and what other slivers of gritty awesomeness they had in store for my little ears.

After putting the pieces together, Alice in Chains quickly turned into a band I was borderline… okay, completely obsessed with. No other band at the time spoke to me the way they did, and no other vocalist struck a chord in me like Layne’s. When he died, my love for the band only blossomed into something more, with a new understanding of the weight of the lyrics he’d written in his pained existence.

Every album the band put out was fit for a certain mood: Dirt if I was stoked on life, Jar of Flies or Sap if I was depressed, Facelift if I was angry, or simply Alice in Chains if I couldn’t decide. AiC proved to be an integral part of aiding in the formation of what my musical taste is today, and maybe this partially explains why, if asked to compile a list of solid “favorite” Alice in Chains songs, I may leave out “Again” as a contender. But for the mere fact that watching that video and hearing that song as a little girl completely changed my perception of what music could be, I find it’s well worth giving due credit.

-Kellhammer

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