Delving deep into music and the cultural abyss of the 21st century.

MTV Circa 1994, Soundgarden, and my Grandma

It is sad to me that children of this new generation and future generations will never know of the wonder that was MTV in the early-mid 1990’s. MTV at that time was cutting edge and unbelievably cool. I used to spend countless hours by myself or with the few neighborhood friends I had at the time, watching videos and discovering the outside world through them. I wanted to know what they were blurring out in the Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg videos so bad! Where were those luscious green fields in the video for “No Rain”? At that time MTV’s primary output was videos and tons of them all put into nice blocks or shows called 120 Minutes, Yo! MTV Raps, and others that I don’t recall. I could always depend on Kurt Loder’s boring face or Tabitha Soren’s red locks of hair interrupting these videos with tidbits of news now and again. It would be hard for me to relay to someone in their late teens or younger how awesome MTV was. They only know it as a purveyor and charlatan of shit programming that reflects no one’s idea of what real life actually is or can be. At that time the only reality show probably was The Grind and the only reality that show featured was the people liked to dance to music for an hour or so. Can you believe people actually watched a show where people danced for an hour? Did anyone actually watch this? They must have it was on for what seemed like 8 years. But I digress, MTV is not what it once was.

In those formative years, being 9-10 years old, the videos that MTV played and their images have etched or branded themselves into my brain. I can still recall those videos and exactly how they have stuck and never went away. Snoop Doggy Dogg in a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey riding a bike with an afro, Blind Melon’s tap-dancing bee girl, Nirvana sitting in a hospital room in “Heart-Shaped Box”, the backyard cook out rocket take off from the Smashing Pumpkins, Coolio putting all those damn people in the trunk of a car, Eddie Vedder climbing the walls and crowd surfing in “Evenflow”, all of these videos and so many more have stuck with me through the years. But there is one video that has stuck with me the longest and resonates with me the most right now at this point in my life: Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” 

I remember the summer of 1994 sticks into my head very vividly because of this video. “Black Hole Sun” reminds me of going to visit my grandparents in Lackawanna, New York (a little outside of Buffalo). My parents would go mingle and sit on their porch, and me bored, awkward, anti-social (I mean I was nine? What 9 year old wants to sit on the porch and fucking talk?) would go sit in their front room and watch TV. I would sit there all day and watch videos. It is sort of funny that one of the darkest and weirdest videos MTV was playing at the time somehow reminds me of the warm feelings that I felt then going to my grandparents. Somehow the Barbie doll melting on the grill, the girl with the melting ice cream, and the weird creepy smiles have some how rolled into feelings of love, warmth, and grandparents pushing food to create this one big nostalgic cluster-fuck. It is almost as if the blazing Kim Thayil guitar solo heated the roast beef my grandma would make; the flashing images of the carnage at the end of the video searing my frontal lobe as a camera does to a Polaroid picture. Turns out that my brain, like a camera, was capturing this moment too. Somehow, this video provided by the fine band Soundgarden and MTV reminds me of one of the most purely happy times in my life. 

Somehow MTV, Soundgarden, and my grandparents all became intertwined in this really positive thing in my life that resonates with me very much to this day and will no doubt continue to do so. I write this article for my grandma because I want to thank her for all that love, warm food, and endless supply of soda in the basement. As she lays in a hospital bed with not much time left, I want to thank her for this moment in time that makes me so happy when I think about it. I love you grandma. Sorry I used some swear words while writing this. Thank you for everything all these years, especially for creating a warm loving home all those years when I was a kid. Thank you for being there in the summer of 1994.