A 52 Week Autobiography Through Music – Week 35 – Jane’s Addiction
As I was making this video I began to think again about how little my lifestyle had in common with the members of this band and for that matter many of the other bands I listen to and love. Dave Navarro - Jane's guitarist is said to basically not remember making Ritual de lo Habitual due to his use of heroin at the time. God knows I had my share of substance issues but the shape of it and timing was different. These guys and others, some whom I have posted about in this series like David Bowie, John Cale, Brian Wilson, the Black Flag crowd as well as good number of well known Jazz musicians like Miles Davis were very much in a scene when they were young and that scene was basically of the Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll variety. My scene when I was 20 years old was of the "listen to the music of the guys in the Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll crowd while trying to be a somewhat successful university music student" Variety...
I bring this up because so much of the way music is delivered to us and the way we perceive it is filtered through images of the artists, stories about their lives etc. It's marketing and one can't escape the extra-musical elements that are being packaged along with the music. Kids start to dress, talk and act like their musical heroes and scenes are borne that all help record companies target the right audience with the products they sell. I am guilty of getting sucked into this phenomenon myself although listening to Jane's Addiction never inspired me to take heroin let alone develop a full blown addiction to it. Some probably did go that route cause it made them feel closer to the music, gave them a perceived shared identity with the band members.
The point for me is that in the end, music transcends any and all attempts to tie it to individuals, scenes, groups of people and even cultures. Yes the music being made is one hundred percent a product of the people who make it and their life experience but as soon as it is out there for someone like me to listen to none of that background really matters. What matters is THE LISTENER'S Background and life experience at the moment the music is perceived.
I first heard this band when my friend Darren Soule put the cassette tape into the player in my car and said "check out this band". For whatever reason this music struck me, instantly as amazing and and powerful and worthy of my full attention. I didn't know they were from L.A.. I didn't know Perry Farrell had dreadlocks or that the band did lots of drugs or that "Jane" was Farrell's roommate who also had a heroin problem. I heard Rock and Roll that blew me away and even now, 30 years later with vastly different life experience I still hear the first notes of "Ocean Size" and make a stinky Rock and Roll face and say "jesus this is killing!".
So if you ever felt like you couldn't listen to certain music cause it just wasn't your scene think again. Ignore the marketing and your own projections based on it and just listen. Loud.