SPOTLIGHT | NME SONG STORIES
photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
its always cool to learn about the INSPIRATION for ART. longtime BRITISH music periodical NME on their youtube channel has for several years had an ongoing video series called SONG STORIES in which they have celebrated musicians explain the initial spark and CREATIVE PROCESS that brought about notable tracks. past participants include JOHNNY MARR (THE SMITHS), PETER HOOK (JOY DIVISION), DAVE GROHL (FOO FIGHTERS), TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB, BRETT ANDERSON (SUEDE), PHOENIX, OLI SYKES (BRING ME THE HORIZON), IAN MCCULLOCH (ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN), JOEY SANTIAGO & DAVID LOVERING (THE PIXIES), JIMMY EAT WORLD, GAVIN ROSSDALE (BUSH), ROYAL BLOOD, BOBBY GILLESPIE (PRIMAL SCREAM) and COURTNEY BARNETT among many others.
while i understand that MUSIC, LITERATURE and ART all have unique narratives that brought about their CREATION, the SOLIPSISTIC truth of the matter is that their longevity is how such became intertwined in the countless personal narratives of individuals the world over. for me music is the ultimate time transportation vehicle as i can listen to a STRANGLERS song and immediately be back in my parents old dilapidated HONDA ACCORD being driven to a weekend soccer match in the early 1990s. the POWER OF MUSIC is not in the CREATOR but in the LISTENER, who effectively completes the circuit.
although as a fan of art i still love getting to know how songs were constructed and what value they imparted or exorcised on the part of the SONGWRITER. endlessly INTRIGUING. NME's SONG STORIES is definitely worth further investigation. highly recommended.
photo & text by nacrowe
often getting pegged as a opportunistic NIRVANA wannabes by music critics, which to some extent is accurate, what always struck me in retrospect about this BRITISH post-GRUNGE ALTERNATIVE ROCK band is how disconnected they were from what was actually current on there side of the pond at the time, namely BRITPOP.
all the manufactured ALTERNATIVE ROCK trappings are there: off-set guitars (check), opaque lyrics (check) soft verse/loud chorus a la THE PIXIES (check), vague anthems celebrating discontent (check). whereas KURT COBAIN had a troubled solitary upbringing that scarred him psychologically as an adult and unquestionably influenced his sense of identity and his art, with BUSH frontman GAVIN ROSSDALE you get the opposite. you are presented a polished, well-adjusted BRIT with model looks. it was an interesting inversion of a ROCK N ROLL archetype.
not that i knew or would have cared about any of this the first time i heard BUSH. i can remember during my elementary years in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA hearing several tracks off of their debut, SIXTEEN STONE (TRAUMA, 1994), like "MACHINEHEAD," "COMEDOWN," "LITTLE THINGS" and especially "EVERYTHING ZEN" and never picking up on the fact that they were ENGLISH. in fact, i thought GREEN DAY were BRITISH given the unique cadence and affectation of BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG's voice at the time. i should also mention i had the benefit of growing up sans MTV since my family didnt have cable during that period and none of my classmates did either (the internet was still almost a decade away from popular widespread usage).
with all that being said, i think that the one thing ROSSDALE is never given credit for, especially with SIXTEEN STONE, was his ability to write some memorable songs. were they derivative and openly mimicking NIRVANA? absolutely. but they werent the first or the last to do such and arguably they were probably better at it than most (do i need to even mention CANDLEBOX or COLLECTIVE SOUL?). i just wish that ROSSDALE had the sense not to be so obvious about his hero worship, like getting STEVE ALBINI to record the follow-up a la IN UTERO (DGC, 1993). why force the comparison between you and a celebrated icon whose cultural gravity will swallow and ultimately dwarf your creative efforts.
i never understood that.