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Story Time: The Day Seattle Died

The Day Seattle Died is the term that had been given to the day April 5th. The first wave hit in 1994 with the death of Kurt Cobain and the second wave hit in 2002. Both days I can remember only the announcements, how they made me feel, and how I reacted. I cannot remember what I was doing before or after, but these have always been pushpins in my timeline. I’ve had many conversations with why people didn’t like Cobain, why people didn’t like grunge music, or why it was all ‘dumb’, but for me these were important events in my life, enough to me for to remember them.

I grew up on a healthy diet of my family’s musical tastes. My dad served me The Doors, Foghat, Fleetwood Mac, Steppenwolf, Mamas and the Papas, Uriah Heep, Jim Croce, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and other artists he grew up with, loved, or heard while he served. My mother served me platefuls of The Statler Brothers, Johnny Cash, other country music artists, and gospel artists to even me out. My sibling added his touches, salt and peppering my early life with the music of the time. Of course, he left the television on MTV when he was around, so I ultimately would be introduced to other musicians of the times. This is how I learned of Nirvana originally.

With all that, as one may assume correctly, I was constantly hearing decades gone by and what was ‘dope’ or ‘da bomb’ at the time. My dad played guitar or sang almost all the time. It was my signal he was, in the very least, in a decent mood. My mom sang when she cooked, cleaned, and sometimes at bed (something I do for my own child and yes some of the very same songs, they’ve got their own groove in my grey matter. Check out You are my Sunshine by Johnny Cash, released in 1969).

The First Wave Hitting

I remember watching Nirvana Unplugged in late 1993. Like everyone else, I was unaware that only a few months after its airing Cobain would be gone. I was in 3rd grade, still, when the announcement popped up on MTV (This was days after he had died and when the public learned of the news on April 8th, 1994). I had just turned the television on and it was already flipped to MTV, my sibling had been there at some point. At first, the announcement was a little crawl at the bottom of the screen and then it was an interruption of Kurt Loder releasing the information.

I saw the original of this:

I can remember being sad and confused. This was the first time I’d ever heard of suicide and didn’t know what it meant. I had yet to learn how troubled someone must be to attempt much less succeed. One of my parents came in and asked what I was watching and telling them Kurt Cobain had died. I can’t remember which one came in, but remember it was one of them. I also remember them telling me they didn’t know who I was talking about. “He’s the singer of Nirvana,” I explained. Their reply, “Doesn’t change anything, I still don’t know who they are.”

The announcement was all I really remember from that day. Later, several days later, eleven to be exact I have discovered, I remember seeing Eddie Vedder’s tribute via a ‘K’ on his shirt because someone in the house was watching Saturday Night Live when it happened.

The Second Wave

I was in 9th grade listening to the radio when I heard that Layne Staley had died. I instantly though of the previously shared memory. I was older then. I understood what suicide is by this point and even how destructive drugs are on those taking them and the loved ones around a user.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried. I didn’t just tear a little I full blown blubbered and shook crying to the news. My sibling came in to see what was going on and I told him. I remember destruction crossing his face, he was sad too. My sibling and I don’t get along very well for many reasons. The actual brother/sisterhood we share is almost non-existent. We rarely shared decent moments through my life, this was one of those few times. In that moment, we were both broken. I do feel it was also in that moment my sibling realized I knew more about music than he ever had cared to wonder before and how greatly it affected me.

I can remember the next day still being sad walking the halls of my high school. No one else had been affected. It was as if it hadn’t even happened. I wasn’t expecting the halls to be filled with crying girls and somber statues made of the male gender or anything (Not like the devastation I witnessed of my classmates when September 11th happened). It bothered me how it was different for everyone else. I’m sure many of them didn’t even know who he was, most of my classmates loved either hip-hop, gospel, or pop. The only person I knew at that time that loved rock music had already moved away (Check out my interview of them: I Interviewed My Oldest Friend).

I loved Alice In Chains and still do, very much so.

Frank Micelotta, Getty Images

As an adult, I’ve seen two more major hits to the list of my favorite bands of my childhood. In 2015, on my birthday to boot, Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots passed. Two years later, Chris Cornell died. In my post 90s Kid Alert, I talked about watching my childhood fade away. The day Chris Cornell died; May 18th, 2017 was one of those days that again made me greatly sad. I felt the music of my life was slipping between my fisted fingers. I was grasping for some sort of happy memories of my life.

In those fists I held the music I grew up with. Music always made me happy. All those days and nights I danced, head-banged, and transported myself somewhere else became more realistic. Life was hitting me with its shittiest branch–the one called reality. With the death of Mr. Cornell those like me that loved ‘grunge’ music have been left with one single singer of my generation, a damn good one too–Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Temple of the Dog.

I recommend reading this article from Loudwire to read more about Cobain and Staley. I also recommend reading this article from The Economic Times about Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder.

Rest in peace, truly.

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