Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tunesday: "Tones of Home," Blind Melon



First off, 1992 was a big damn year for music. I was 12/13, so you must appreciate how important the very best albums of that year were to me. I don't intend to write about every great album released 20 years ago, but I'm sure I'll touch on a few.

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While not as critically acclaimed or popular as REM's "Automatic For the People," The Beastie Boys' "Check Your Head," Rage Against the Machine's debut, Sonic Youth's "Dirty" or "Dr. Dre's "The Chronic," Blind Melon's self-titled major-label, national release was a landmark album. As I remember it, the record belonged in the alternative scene but it had an excellent late-60s flavor and superb musicianship that made it stand out. And I may or may not have wanted to have hair just like singer Shannon Hoon's.

While "No Rain" and that Bee Girl were most people's first introduction to Blind Melon, the album's first single actually was "Tones of Home." Makes sense: It's the better song. Better groove, better lyrics, just better. I'm sorry, I know this is an unpopular opinion; "No Rain" is beloved. But I think people heard it and, more importantly, saw it for the better part of a decade. It's etched in their memories. Never one to try to change someone's mind on such matters, it's cool by me to agree to disagree.

The main reason why I love "Tones of Home" so much actually didn't develop until about 2006. I was living far from Texas in Rockford, Ill. Blind Melon's tune about leaving your home (fun fact: Shannon and Axl Rose share the same hometown — Lafayette, Ind.) and discovering a new environment (fun fact revisited: new home for both — L.A.), which struck a chord.

At times I really missed Texas and its three Fs — family, friends and familiarity — and disliked my new surroundings. Other times, I loved living in Northern Illinois — seasons, new friends, growing career — and wondered if I should plant roots. During a particularly rough period, I often questioned if I had made the right decision. Ultimately, I decided that I had made a good decision (learned so much during those two years), but I knew it was time to return home. Considering how great my life is these days, I don't regret that choice and I still regard Rockford/Loves Park as home, too, if only for a short time. When you open yourself to your surroundings and its possibilities, you'll find home is anywhere you are.

What else?

My college band often received comparisons to Blind Melon. I cannot deny that there are some serious similarities between "Tones of Home" and "Luggage Car." I swear, it wasn't intentional.

Also, despite Shannon's overdose death in 1995, the band eventually reunited in 2006 (that news brought their music back into my life) and they continue to perform on occasion (rumors are circulating about possible 20th anniversary shows).  

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