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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Five Amazing Grunge Artifacts That Time (and You) Forgot

Posted By on Tue, Sep 27, 2011 at 6:00 AM

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3. That slip of paper containing Eddie Vedder's phone number

During an October of 1993 interview on the nationally syndicated radio show Rockline, the Pearl Jam frontman unexpectedly gave out his home phone number. "Are we still on?" he exclaimed as the show was drawing to a close. "If you want to call the house it's (206) 283-3916. You got that. It's Eddie's house at (206) 283-3916. If you couldn't get through tonight." It was reported that Vedder then spent three hours a day for the next 10 chatting with fans and singing improvised tunes like "Don't Pick Up That Fork." You hastily scrawled the number on a Post-it note (you know, back before one could just save a new contact in the iPhone) and it occasionally comes out of your wallet, usually late at night when you're tipsy and listening to "Release Me" in the dark. You still harbor fantasies of Eddie answering the phone and maybe inviting you over to help hang some drapes or clean out the gutters.

2. That framed photograph of Kurt Cobain

The iconic black-and-white shot was snapped by Charles Peterson during a Nirvana show at the Seattle Center Coliseum in 1992. It shows Cobain on stage, his back to the camera, facing impenetrable darkness. He's illuminated by a spotlight, disheveled, alone, leaning like he may topple over at any moment. It's similarly tragic and tacky, playing on every tortured-artist stereotype ever associated with Cobain. It hung in your home office until your teenage nephew asked, "Is this a photo of that little dude who was in the Police?"

1. That music video for Candlebox's "Far Behind"

The music video for "Far Behind" is so beastly and yet so marvelous, an effect only the truly gifted can accomplish. The song rips off Nirvana's quiet/loud dynamic. It's built on a melody that's meandering and repetitive, yet it will inevitably burrow into your brain and remain there for weeks. Visually, there's heavy-handed symbolism found in countless other videos (i.e., empty in-ground swimming pools, red paint being splashed on walls). However, the video is also shameless in how it sells Candlebox as a legitimate part of the grunge scene (the band was indeed from Seattle, but often regarded as party crashers). Consider the shots of the band -- looking simultaneously dolled-up and dingy -- walking through the forest, their Doc Martens crushing dead leaves. It all ends with a close-up of a light bulb, and as the shot stretches on, you can't help but focus on the words "white" and "soft" -- two adjectives that pretty much encapsulate grunge.

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Ryan Foley

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