I was doing dishes, which is to say I had run some water and put some soap in it to earn myself several valuable minutes of online procrastination, when I popped into Facebook and saw “RIP Scott Weiland” as the top post on my Facebook feed.
TMZ reports that he was found dead at 48 on his tour bus in Minnesota. There is no cause of death listed yet, but… c’mon. It’s going to be drugs, right? Either an overdose or his body giving out from years of abuse. This is as unsurprising as celebrity deaths come.
There was a time when I was a huge Stone Temple Pilots fan. I got into them with Core – you can argue authenticity or artistic merit or whatever, but I was 16 and didn’t care about any of that. Still largely don’t. Regardless, it wasn’t until the second album, Purple, came out two years later when I really fell hard for the band. It was the album of the summer in the year when I finally got my driver’s licence and I don’t think the tape (copied off a CD, of course) left my car once in six months until the tape deck finally ate it. Sorry, anyone who regularly drove with me.
That album is still a favourite of mine. I fell off after not getting into Tiny Music – which is kind of funny because I think I’d really like that album if I gave it a solid chance now – but still half kept up with the band, the singles, the breakups, the reunions, the side projects.
Some years ago, Stone Temple Pilots played Regina and we went. The review is on here if you care to dig for it. We joked all along the leadup to the show that it would either get cancelled or be a disaster when/if it happened. Surprisingly and happily, it was really good. Weiland’s voice was in fine form and they played a Purple-heavy setlist that was exactly the show I would have wanted to see back when I was 18. It was a great night and it was the next best thing to seeing them in their prime (and at the peak of my fandom).
Of course, a few weeks later, a video surfaced of Weiland falling off a stage while singing – and somehow, the vocals never stopped. So it goes. The internet is sometimes not great for keeping our illusions intact.
But then I liked their last album well enough. There was always hope. And then there wasn’t – last I heard of Weiland was from a video of a live performance of Vasoline that was so bad that it went viral, while the other members of STP had put out a single replacing Weiland with the lead singer of… Linkin Park? Is that right? I remember not liking the song, at any rate. [googles] Yes, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. Apparently, they parted ways last month.
And now this. Like I said, anyone that’s followed Weiland’s up-and-down, on-again off-again career expected that this was how things would end up. It doesn’t make things any less disappointing, though. For whatever flaws he may have had, he made a few albums that really hit with me, that were the right sounds at the right time. And there’s a post on what appears to be his official Instagram account announcing his passing, and it’s just a picture of him, looking like a guy you could pass by on the street and not think anything of it. And after all the drama, seeing him as “just a guy” is as affecting as any of this.
Here’s another batch…
James – Hey Ma
Everybody remembers Laid, but James has been around a long time and always makes really cool music when they’re at it. Hey Ma is full of captivating pop beauty, currently-relevant lyrics and uplifting musical generosity. This one should be huge. Get it.
Scott Weiland – Happy In Galoshes
Whatever troubles Weiland has had in his personal life, the fact remains that the man can write a catchy tune between benders, whether it’s for STP, VR or these sporadic solo efforts. This one has a lot of good single moments here and there, even an appropriate Bowie cover, but sadly this album is too scattered to be satisfying.
The Band – The Last Waltz
We watched this amazing film with friends on New Year’s Eve, which could easily become a tradition for me. So many phenomenal artists, so much beautiful music, one unbelievable concert. Truly a show you hope will never end. Forget our plastic culture’s mindless numbness to superlative – this one’s a true classic.
Bruce Springsteen – Working On A Dream
The Boss can still show off that carnival swirl of the old days, and lately he’s nurturing the good sense to slow things down more often. This record’s what you’d expect, actually. There are the inevitable dud tracks (Outlaw Pete, Queen Of The Supermarket), but the rest is solid Springsteen.
Serena Ryder – Is It OK
This artist only grows stronger with each new release, and she was bloody strong to begin with, as you know already. Her growing confidence lends pure power to her every move. Even better, there’s still that raw edge in her approach, which I’ve always found totally appealing. Each song here could be a single. I really, really liked this.