A DV Playlist – Grunge

By Ali Lewis, Database & Web Manager

In the early 90s when I arrived at college, I was introduced to a whole new sound of music. Gone were the pop and soft rock radio days of high school. Older students had their new-fangled music blasting from their dorm rooms or car stereos. Campus DJs played this guitar-driven, hard-bassy music. We wore flannel shirts and ripped jeans and danced to this grimy music with raspy vocals and dark lyrics. And I loved it.

The dark lyrics were just as hard as the music itself. Many about violence, drug abuse, suicide, death. I offer these five songs with themes of abuse, neglect, and rape.

In Nirvana’s “Polly,” a girl is kidnapped and raped. In my research for this post, I found that it’s based on a true story.

Pearl Jam sings about a boy who is neglected by his parents and teased by his classmates, and eventually kills himself in school, in “Jeremy.” This is also the product of real-life stories.

Stone Temple Pilots contemplate, and maybe actually commit, rape in “Sex Type Thing.” The lyrics say “you shouldn’t have worn that dress” and “you know what’s on my mind.”

In Hole’s “Jennifer’s Body,” a women is being abused by her spouse. This lyrics include “sleeping with the enemy” and “my better half has bitten me.”

And I couldn’t make a grunge list without including Alice in Chains. Their music was, without a doubt, the one that I felt the most drawn to. The bass lines and the vocals were like nothing I had ever heard. And after all these years, I’m still taken aback by their sound. Try as I might, I couldn’t find a song that I felt was about domestic abuse per se, so I included their song “Would?” The lyrics start “Know me broken by my master/Teach thee own child of love hereafter/Into the flood again/Same old trip it was back then.” Those lyrics could speak to someone who has been broken, who keeps going back into the same situation. I think it’s actually about drug addiction. But isn’t going back into a bad relationship an addiction too? Something you know is bad for you, but you just keep setting yourself up to have it happen again?

You can view the full playlist on our YouTube Channel.

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