In Japan, there is a place called the Suicide Forest. It is well-known. Many people go there to… well, there’s no need to describe what they do there. But there are photographs of tattered necktie remnants hanging from tree branches. Bones below them half-covered with earth and vines. For example.
In the 1990s, a style of rock music called ‘grunge’ was popular. It was born under wet, grey skies in Seattle, USA. In the damp air of the Pacific Northwest by young people who were unhappy and liked flannel. Who found the leather and spandex costumes of the big-hair party rockers from California who preceded them to be contrived and false. Who were angry for reasons they couldn’t quite articulate.
My father once looked me square in the eye and said he would have blown his head off if he had the guts to do it. He retired from a life of misery making good money writing advertising, then sat miserably in his living room recliner gazing out the window at the ‘crazy’ lady in the house across the street. Over time he rubbed a bald spot in the armrest with his fingers.
Here in the still early part of the 21st century, many grunge artists have gone to the Suicide Forest in one way or another. Andrew Wood. Layne Staley. Scott Weiland. Kurt Cobain. Chris Cornell.
One wonders what it was that drove them. Was it the gloom? Was it the times? The era? Was it the shallowness of American Culture and the recognition that a life of being pressured to consume eventually consumes the consumer? Was it that they had ‘the guts’?
I wonder about the reason this music resonated with many of my generation. Why so many of this music’s makers went the way they did. Why so many of my generation find themselves restless and dispirited, despite what they post on Facebook.
My father was not of that generation, but the one before it. The generation that boomed it. I live in his shadow, and in the world he made, from the one that made his. It’s not his fault. It’s not our fault. It just is.
‘What is’ is malleable. Beyond the clouds, otherside of a damp gray sky, there is something blue. And the sun is shining.