I just finished watching Alice In Chain’s MTV Unplugged from 1996.
Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell have one of the most captivating vocal blends in rock history, and despite their being visibly junk sick, it’s a moving performance.
Layne sits zombie-like and detached on a bar stool, barely opening his mouth as he hits iconic note after iconic note. He misses a few cues and fumbles a few lyrics, but it’s still there, that spark that all legends have, not yet fully extinguished by the demons that would turn him into a recluse two years later, and claim his life in five.
I used to live a few blocks from the building where Layne died. I was in my early 20’s, with no real problems other than trying to reclassify garden-variety growing up as heroic loneliness, like most people in their early 20’s do.
But then I’d walk past Layne’s building and be reminded of loneliness that hollows you into nothing. I was dissatisfied with a great many things back then, chief among them my lack of sexual magnetism, but I had never felt the way Layne must have, and knew I never would.
So, I watched Alice In Chains Unplugged tonight, mourning the loss of tormented souls, and grateful for the gifts they left behind.