monday music trip:
i alone [LIVE]

I Alone is a single from Live's Throwing Copper album, circa 1994. I remember loving that tape so much and playing it over and over.

Imagine, I listened to it on casette tape. Casette tape. We high-schoolers didn't buy CDs then because CDs were a pricey luxury afforded by grandparents and single uncles.

I recall considering Throwing Copper one of my favorite albums, but I don't even remember half of the songs in there anymore. I'm sure though that one of the things I liked about this band was the way frontman Ed Kowalczyk conveyed sensitivity and emotion without screeching like one of the big-haired glam metallists from the '80s/ early '90s. In the days when too many new artists tried to emulate Kurt Cobain's unpolished heroin-addict delivery or Eddie Vedder's deep baritone, Live's sonorous vocals were noteworthy.
The song starts mellow and tender, almost sparse; Kowalczyk mews mellifluous somewhere between a yawn, a sigh and a bitter cry. The music builds up, and he suddenly, vigorously lashes into one of the most intense and easily recognizable rock choruses from the '90s. I alone love you, I alone tempt you ... The enraged ardor is so palpable, it'd be easy for a listener to dive into it, drown in the anguish and vomit it out as his own. It's one of those things perfect for angrily pogo-dancing and banging your unwashed tresses to.

Contrary to what many listeners think, this isn't really a love song. According to the band, it's a commentary of sorts on organized religion. I couldn't find a quote of them sufficiently explaining the lyrics, but here's a tiny snippette in Wiki. Fans of the song have many interesting interpretations, besides.

Now that I can take a good look at the words (thanks, Google), I see it. I could make my own exegeses, but I'd rather leave you to make your own than share mine. ;)

it's easier not to be wise
and measure these things by your brains
I sank into eden with you
alone in the church by and by
I'll read to you here, save your eyes
you'll need them, your boat is at sea
your anchor is up, you've been swept away
and the greatest of teachers won't hesitate
to leave you there, by yourself, chained to fate

I alone love you
I alone tempt you
I alone love you
fear is not the end of this

it's easier not to be great
and measure these things by your eyes
we long to be here by his resolve
alone in the church by and by
to cradle the baby in space
and leave you there by yourself chained to fate

oh, now, we took it back too far,
only love can save us now,
all these riddles that you burn
all come runnin' back to you,
all these rhythms that you hide
only love can save us now,
all these riddles that you burn yeah, yeah, yeah

But it would've been the quintessential post-grunge love ballad anyway - raw, angsty, with half-intelligible free-verse poetry that could mean a multitude of things. It could most of all be the crazed, possessive rambling of a rejected lover, rancid enough to rival Alanis Morisette's You Oughtta Know.

I used to listen to this song in my old bedroom, headphone volume on max (or full-blast when it came on the radio) to swim in Kowalczyk's sentimental soul-spillage. I had no idea what the verses meant, but I loved how they trickled out of his mouth. The chorus that roared loud and strong provided words for how I felt over this guy I was crazy about but preferred a beautiful idjit over me (I was the perfect girl for him, he just couldn't see it, dammit).

The music video is simple but decent by mid-'90s standards. Extreme close ups of the front man gazing directly into the camera while appearing depressed, neurotic, angry and high at the same time - that is so freaking '90s. I'm pretty sure I've seen Anthony Kiedis, Scott Weiland, Steven Tyler and a few others do that. The band spazzes out in the buildup, slamdancing and flopping their bad hair and too-long sweater sleeves. I've seen many other bands do that too. I feel so sorry for the drummer; he didn't have his instrument in there with him so he seemed to just randomly throw himself around while singing second, unsure what to do with his messy ponytail.

They all look so freaking unkempt - it's disturbing, isn't it? Clumpy hair and slouchy clothes that look like they haven't been washed for days (I mean both the hair and the clothes) were fashionable then. But yes, that's '90s grunge culture for ya: everything must be well-put-together in such a way that doesn't look so well-put-together. Labor for hours to look like you didn't care about how you looked. I must confess. I used to walk around in that too. :p

And yeow, look at Ed Kowalczyk's jeans. Don't they seem too high at the waist? Or does it only look that way because he has a short torso? He often appeared on television in that getup, by the way - jeans, no shirt, padawan braid. He's not beefy or anything, but he's not bad-looking at all. But then he looked too plain next to the Vedders and the Cobains of course.

Speaking of Kowalczyk, a bit of trivia: You might have spotted him as an extra in a certain seminal movie starring Edward Norton and Brad Pitt:

Image from here.

When I saw that scene I knew the waiter looked extremely familiar, I just couldn't place him. Now I know for sure. That's a still from the 1999 flick Fight Club, by the way.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...