Shannon Hood was born in a small town in Indiana. He played football, wrestled, and track. He played guitar a little and loved classic rock. After High School he tried out for a local group and the band was impressed with a song he wrote himself called "change" which would later be featured on Blind Melons first album and is probably their greatest song. If you have never heard it, I would give it a listen. It is inspirational, sad, optimistic, and a give's you a look into Shannon's view of the world. His band moved out to California looking for a record deal. Shannon's sister went to high school with a musician also from Indiana by the name of Axl Rose. When Axl found out their was someone from his hometown in LA he put them in touch with a record company and they immediately recorded an album and off they went. Most people are familiar with the song "No Rain" made famous by the bee girl video.
Shannon Hood Died on October 21, 1995 from a drug overdose.
His gravestone was inscribed with lyrics from the first song he ever wrote "change"
"I know we can't all stay here forever,
So I want to write my words on the face of today
and then they'll paint it"
The second album was released shortly after his death. It was a weird time in the 90's. It was very similar to the 60's. There was political and artistic revolutions going on. The grunge movement changed music forever. It also, just like the 60's fizzled out into a drug hazed stupor that left so many talented artists to addiction and suicide. It was a very sad and confusing time. Shannon Hood to me was like a god. He looked like an ordinary guy, no different than someone I would know from Scranton. His voice and lyrics were so magical to me. His death was as if one of my close friends had died. When you're 17 years old the bands you listen to are the most important thing in your life. You wish you were them. I can remember picking up a Rolling Stone Magazine and opening it to the album reviews. I can clearly remember seeing SOUP and underneath it was one star. My favorite band got one star by my favorite magazine. The person reviewing it hated it. I think he hated it not based on music itself but because most of the songs are dark, and filled with drug and suicidal themes. At this time most music critics were done with the darkness and death that had taken over the music scene. In Europe where the people and critics have a much more existential view of art loved it. They felt it was a masterpiece.
I remember exactly where I bought the CD and the car I drove where I first listened to it. It was completely different than the first record. Crazy instruments, psychedelic guitar sounds, and surreal lyrics. Shannon had this unique way of combining a very sad lyric right before a beautiful, optimistic and sometimes humorous lyric. You find yourself being charmed and jamming out to a song about him going though heroin withdrawal in rehab. You could tell that this record was Shannon telling the world about his pain. But being the joker he was he was able to make his sadness and misery sound so beautiful. And to a 17 year old me, his lyrics were a revelation. They made me feel like I could fly.
Don't you know, it seems to be so unappealing
But, oh what a feeling
I remember sitting in my prison cell alone and singing the lyrics to Walk. Over and over again I would repeat these lyrics.
And under a sun that's seen it all before
My feet are so cold
And I can't believe
Two songs on the record were topical songs. One is Carseat(Gods presents) which is about Susan Smith, the mother that put her children in the car and drove the car into a lake killing them all.
Tongue tied, nerves as big as boulders
Why, mom? I thought I was your soldier
My brother sits by me
Buckled into the carseat
Feel the thirst, it's time for pulling over
Into the truckstop, on my daddy's shoulder
Out back, where they plant all the trees
Ten feet away, my daddy buries me
Another topical song "Skinned" is about the serial killer Ed Gein who after he killed his victims would cut them up and use their body parts to make things.
And, oh, don't you know that I'm always feeling able
When I'm sitting home and I'm carving out your navel?
I'm just a sitting here carving out your navel
Even though both of these songs are about specific people, I think Shannon was also using metaphor to talk about his own life. He was masterful at hiding his pain. His high falsetto voice and the fact that their first single No Rain was such an uplifting song made it hard to recognize the painful themes in the rest of his songs. Only reading the actual lyrics you can see the emotion.
St Andrews Fall is a song that affects me differently every single time I hear it. It could mean a million different things to a million different people. Its starts off with a joyful riff and lyrics about just having the simple things in life and being happy. It then takes a dark turn about slipping into depression. The final verse though is heartwarming and introspective. It often plays in my mind during my bouts of sadness.
And I can't tell you how many ways that I've sat
And viewed my life today, but I can tell you
I don't think that I can find easy way
So, if I see you walking hand-in hand-in hand
With a three armed man, you know I'll understand
One of the last songs is "New Life" which is about finding out he would soon be a father. Nico Blue never got to know her father. He only exists in photos and his songs. I often think of the moments before he died if he wondered where is all went wrong. The moment his eyes closed for the last time did his whole life flash before him.
'Cause now she's telling me she'll have my baby
And a father figure I am to be
When I'm looking into the eyes of our own baby
Will it bring new life into me?
Bring new life
Bring new life
Bring new life into me
There is one song that is not on this record. The song "Soup" is not on the record it is named after. I have no idea why because it is an amazing song and would of been the best song on the record. It is about Kurt Cobain. It uses heavy metaphors pertaining to Kurt's life and I promise when you listen to this song one time or a thousand times you will feel it.
This is the first verse:
The clothesline of cold eyes is washing away the face before
Now, tell me what's wrong
You see, everyone's gone
You gotta do your best to decorate this dying day
This dying day
This is the last verse:
And I got a corner store
And that's all the more for me to praise upon the holidays
And now, I'll close my eyes really, really tight
And make you all go away
I'll make you all go away
I'll make you all go...
And I'll pull the trigger and I'll make it all go away
And I'll make it all go away, I'll make it all go away
When you're a confused, depressed teenager from a small town sometimes the only thing that makes you feel human and alive is the music you listen to. Those moments in your car when you are driving the streets of your hometown and your favorite band is blasting through the speakers are the moments I remember the most. I hold them dear to my heart. We all have that favorite musician, writer, or artist that touches us in an impactful way. Maybe there are artists that you feel are just yours and that no one else knows about. You feel like they are yours and yours only. They speak just to you.
I've been wanting to write this post for awhile but I just didn't know what to say. I only hope I can leave something to this world like Shannon did. Something that will live forever. Sometimes I think that the bands I listened to as a kid and the tragic deaths that plague them has left me with a purpose to bring something beautiful to this world. Just maybe.....
Richard Shannon Hoon (September 26, 1967 – October 21, 1995)
Shannon's daughter Nico Blue and Shannon