Today I cried for a lost love. Not a lost love who ever knew anything about it, mind – but a lost love nonetheless.
Music is a funny thing, when you think about it. It doesn’t even really exist, except as a memory or an idea. When it is being played, it is simply energy, a vibration, waves of pressure changes being perceived by our brains. And yet, there is very little that moves me as deeply as music. It is not something that I just listen to, it is something that I feel and absorb. It soaks into my bones and it pulses through my veins. Whether it’s good or bad, it is always a powerful and emotional experience, and it often results in my forming powerful and emotional attachments to songs, and albums, and by extension the bands that create and perform them.
For me, as someone who struggles to invest in emotional bonds with real people, it’s an intimacy that nothing else can really come close to.
My first brush with Stone Temple Pilots was when they had a song featured on the soundtrack for The Crow in 1994. The luscious, golden voice of Mr Scott Weiland wrapped around me like honey, while the catchy, bouncy and at times dark music was perfectly tuned to how I felt about life at the time. It soaked into my brain and added a new shade to my thoughts and feelings. There is a section of my brain that will forever be Stone Temple Pilots coloured, and over 20 years later, nothing has changed about the way I feel listening to that music.
Needless to say, my little teenaged self was later delighted to discover that Weiland himself was an absolute vision to behold.
It’s easy to sneer at footage of young girls in the 60’s, shrieking and losing their shit over the Beatles, but I totally get where that passion is coming from. I was just a little quieter about it.
In the late 90’s, STP shifted direction musically and I found myself stepping away because they just didn’t resonate with me in the same way any more. I bought a solo single of Weiland’s when I was at college which I loved, and gave me hope for great things from him in the future.
Consequently, I was delighted to hear a couple of years later that Weiland was teaming up with Slash et al in Velvet Revolver… but when I first saw him in a new video, I was shocked into tears. I had never really been that aware of his drug problems prior to that, but the destruction wrought by addiction was instantly apparent, and was powerful and hard hitting.
Watching that gaunt, skeletal shade of Weiland, the reality of what he was struggling with was impossible to ignore. I couldn’t engage with Velvet Revolver after that; it was too painful to see what had clearly happened, and was in all likelihood continuing to happen. I have since seen interviews with him in recent years, and it was very clear that he was either still in the clutches of a problem, or that some real intense damage had been done.
This morning, I woke up to the news that Scott Weiland had been found dead on 3rd December in his tour bus in Minnesota. I cried then and there in my kitchen, and I have continued to do so on and off throughout the day. I have not heard – nor have I cared to look for – any further information on the circumstances. Was it a surprise though? No. Not to me, and I don’t imagine it was to anyone else. Does that make it any less painful? No.
This was a man that I did not know, and had never met. I genuinely cannot imagine multiplying these feelings up to the scale of the pain and heartache of having to watch family and friends go through this same tortuous fight. Not being able to help. Never knowing from one day to the next what news you yourself are going to wake up to.
This is a goodbye to a man who never knew the esteem I held him in. It is also an extension of my heart and my deepest, deepest sympathies to anyone who is fighting their own demons – but more importantly, to their people who are helplessly caught in the current.