Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Alice in Chains - 'Shame in You'

While we're on a "I Love the 90s" kick here at the Note, I thought I might as well post one of my favorite deep cuts from that era. 'Shame in You' was a mid-disc track contained on Alice in Chains's self-titled album. But for those obsessive fans in the know such as myself, the LP was commonly referred to as Tripod, an obvious reference to the three legged dog on the cover.

Tripod holds a special place in my heart simply because it was the last studio album released by this all-time favorite band of mine. Plagued by collective fatigue and
Layne Staley's heroin addiction, the band fell apart soon after, with the MTV Unplugged session in 1996 being one of the last times its members would all perform together.

Tripod is a markedly different disc for the band in the fact that guitarist
Jerry Cantrell made a dramatic move to the forefront and performed lead vocals on two of the radio singles ('Over Now' & 'Heaven Beside You'). Past studio work had Cantrell relegated to back-up VOX, at best. In retrospect, this new ambition on behalf of Cantrell and Stayley's departure from prominence within the band provides a sure foreshadowing of Staley's eventual lethal demise, as well as Cantrell's future solo efforts.

'Shame in You' is a brilliant encapsulation of both Staley's exclusive voice, as well as the personal pain evident in his lyrics:

When I waken, and I'm achin', time for sleepin, yeah
When I'm sayin time to go and, I've been hurtin, yeah
When I'm layin, I'm still tryin, concentrating on dyin', yeah

Furthermore, who can dislike a song that uses Olde English?:

Or n'er regain peace you seek

Of course, the ace in the hole for this song is the climax towards the end, with Layne Staley pleading:

Throw out, blow up, hold in
Show fine, no signs, grow blind

Overall, this non-radio single serves as one of the last records of Staley's grainy, but passionate vocals. It represents one of the last recordings of a singer who, along with Cornell, Vedder, and Cobain, helped popularize hard rock for the masses. Most importantly, however, 'Shame in You' is a chilling portrait of a man full of tortured self-regret and obvious "shame."

May Layne rest in peace:

Alice in Chains - 'Shame in You'


rock is dead said...

Very moving song, made even more tragic by the fact that it was one of the last he recorded before he stopped being able to work.

RIP Layne

Unknown said...

What did the song mean? What is he singing about? I am curious, it seems sad makes me want to hug someone.