Posts Tagged ‘a eulogy for the 1990s’

With the recent death of Scott Weiland, Generation X has lost yet another spokesperson. This deserves a eulogy… for my generation and the decade we called our own.

Of course this is sad news for Gen Xers. Scott Weiland was one of the cool guys of the 1990s. He belonged to an elite group grunge vocalists who sang the soundtrack of our lives. Despite the impact he made upon my age group, Weiland’s death comes as no surprise. It is yet another bitter reminder that Generation X is getting older and more mortal by the day.

The 1990s Were a Decade of Darkness for Generation X
Stone Temple Pilots as being among “The Big Five” of 1990s rock music. (The other four are Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains.) These bands had a HUGE impact on the 90s sound as well as its overall musical direction. To fellow Gen Xers who came of age during that halcyon decade, the music was a journey into the causes and effects of childhood trauma.

Songs about rape, child abuse, and murder dominated the airwaves, CD players, and MTV rotations. At the time, I wondered how this morbidity could be so popular. Now I understand. As a generation, we were collectively working through the issues associated with being raised by our parents. Bands such as Stone Temple Pilots – and the rest of the Big Five – acted as the moderators for this decade-long group therapy session.

Most Me Generation parents weren’t the Brady Bunch. They were a bunch of pot-smoking, wife-swapping, cocaine-sniffing, child abusing assholes. And after their myriad fuckups, their greatest advice to us was “Just say ‘No.’” Needless to say, we saw through the bullshit, and our greatest act of rebellion was spending our disposable income on the pre-packaged subculture served up by people just like our dipshit parents.

I Fucked up and Missed Out on the 90s
Despite its trauma and false pretenses, the 90s were one hell of a party! Too bad I was too busy wallowing in resentment. I didn’t need Woodstock 94. I came of age in Flint, Michigan’s nascent punk rock scene of the 1990s.When my band wasn’t playing the stage at the Capital Theater, I was hanging out with my friends, seeing some great bands and slamming in the circle pit up front.

Then one day everything changed. Sometime in mid-September, 1991, I heard Kurt Cobain stroke the first chords of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” I didn’t feel elated that the music that was so much part of my life was now recognized by the mainstream. Instead, I felt betrayed. To me, it was a blatant commercialization of the 80s punk that defined my teens and early 20s.

Of course I feel differently now. The concept of “selling out” is bullshit. No artist should be forced to toil away in obscurity just because some small group of fans want to selfishly lord over that artist’s popularity. More importantly, the 90s were just so fucking cool, creative, and free. I wish I would’ve done more to appreciate that unique time in history. But there are no decade do-overs.

Sorry to Hear of Your Passing, Scott
So this brings me back to Scott. I can’t wax poetic about how much you meant to me during my turbulent and tumultuous twenties. I don’t have any memories of seeing you live and in your prime with Stone Temple Pilots. The truth is, I never knew you.

But you still were the voice of my generation. One of them, anyway. You had everything a young, aspiring singer such as me wanted; but in the end, you died as you lived: a faded rock star past his prime. All I can say is that that wherever you are, I hope you’ve been able to heal your wounds and put down those demons that haunted you for so long.

Say hello to Kurt and Layne for me…

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.