Shannon Hoon with Blind Melon at Woodstock ’94.
After a 12 year hiatus following Shannon’s death, Blind Melon are back.
Blind Melon, possibly one of the most influential bands in my life, are back, and releasing a new album at the end of this month. And I’m not sure how I’m feeling about this…
Shannon Hoon, the original lead singer for Blind Melon, changed my life in ways that few others have. I know that’s a typically melodramatic statement from a music blogger, but it’s true. Shannon, along with Bradley J Nowell played a major part in my formative years. (Aside: Yes, I’m letting my age show here). Shannon’s distinctive voice, and the sheer honesty in his lyrics touched something deep within me, and I was irrevocably changed.
The sad spiral to his death was tragic, but inevitable… I don’t think any of Blind Melon’s fans were surprised when Shannon overdosed in October of 1995; but that doesn’t mean it was any less devastating. It was like watching someone slipping away, just out of your reach. Try as you might, you could only brush their fingertips, but never quite grab their outreached hand.
“I know we can’t all stay here forever
So I want to write my words on the face of today
And they’ll paint it”
– Shannon Hoon, Blind Melon’s “Change”
Blind Melon with new lead singer, Travis Warren
Fast-forward 12 years, to 2007. The reformed Blind Melon have picked up a cocky new singer, Texan Travis Warren, and are back in studio. Generally, things are kept pretty quiet, except for this video explaining how they came together, and how things in the studio are going…
The song at the end of that video, “Sometimes”, was only heard in part… but it was enough to intrigue me. It sounded like classic Melon… a wandering, grooving tune, with the gentle static and warm snaps of recording tubes.
Finally, fast-forward to the now, 2008. Now, Blind Melon have released more tunes on their Myspace page in preparation for their new album’s (entitled “For My Friends“) release, on 22 April… their first new release since 1995. And I’m not sure how I feel about it. There’s no denying that Travis is a great vocalist, and he seems able to harmonise with the rest of the band in a way that Shannon always seemed to have trouble doing… purely because of his unique voice. And the songs themselves definitely show promise… though they’re a bit more “safe” than anything I would have pictured old Blind Melon being involved with… far too mainstream radio. But they’re good, nonetheless. Apart from the seemingly pointless track, “Last Laugh”, the rest had me in their palms.
But I’m just not sure I want anything more released under the Blind Melon name. I know that that’s a completely selfish and short-sighted feeling. I know that Blind Melon should carry on… hell, Shannon’s family are well behind it. I know that things can’t stay the same way forever. And I know things change.
But I’m selfish. And seeing Blind Melon perform again just brings up this incredible sadness in me. I’m not saying it always will, and I’m really going to try to get behind this new incarnation of the band… but, even though it’s unfair, these guys are going to have to work a hell of a lot harder than any new band to bring me on-side. They have to contend with Shannon’s ghost and their history, and that’s going to be one tall order.
The more these tracks spin on my player though… the more I think they might just be up to it…
What are your thoughts? Any Blind Melon fans in my readers out there?
Take a listen, and make up your own minds:
Classic Blind Melon
Listen: Blind Melon – Mouthful of Cavities
New Blind Melon
Listen: Blind Melon – Sometimes
Listen: Blind Melon – Wishing Well
7 replies on “Blind Melon are back. And I’m not sure how I feel about this…”
“And seeing Blind Melon perform again just brings up this incredible sadness in me.”
…hey burgo, i have to guess that you haven’t seen BM actually perform again yet (ie: attending one of their latest shows), or you would no longer be filled with the incredible sadness. they are ripping it up live these days and its a great experience. believe me. i would definitely recommend trying to hit a show. they might win you back.
i can certainly understand your apprehension about their decision to play again, and everybody is entitled to form a judgement when it comes to entertainment. if its not going to do it for you, that’s ok. it’s only rock and roll. just keep in mind that there will be more than enough people that were never fans to begin with that will start to pile-on with the insults as this gets more attention. shannon’s demise was a punch-line to these people and the reunion will give them yet another shot. based on the impact this band had on you, i can’t imagine you want to be in that camp either.
Thanks so much for dropping by with the very thoughtful comment. I should probably clarify… yes, it makes me sad to see BM performing again, but only because that sadness is associated with the memory of Shannon. Not because I don’t think they should be doing it. It’s a purely selfish reason, kind of like a “knee jerk” response.
However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to get behind these guys. As I say, they’ll have to work hard, but I havent made up my mind on them yet… I’m keeping an open mind about this, and hoping that they dazzle me, as I’m sure they will. I dunno; I guess I didnt explain myself very well in the post. I suppose if I was to try an analogy… let’s say you have a favourite author, who passes away. And then a book of his is published posthumously… that’s a wonderful thing, right? But there’s a sadness attached to it, because that new publication reminds you of the sadness of his passing.
I dunno. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I really do think this is going to be great. And although it brings up these feelings of sadness in me, that DOESN’T mean that it also can’t be a beautiful thing.
Just one last comment as well… with regards to your:
“shannon’s demise was a punch-line to these people and the reunion will give them yet another shot.”
… I have no time for these people. I’m not taking shots at the band… just speaking about my love for their past.
And my hope for their future.
Again… thanks for the great comment Matt.
I’m not a Blind Melon fan, but I would compare this to how I felt when I saw that “Alice in Chains” were getting back together. I had seen William Duvall play with Cantrell on Cantrell’s solo tour, so I knew that Duvall had the goods vocally to pull it off.
I had to see it, and when I saw one of the early reunion shows at the Chicago Metro (!) there was no letdown. And when I saw the greatly expanded set at the House of Blues in Cleveland a year later….another great show. Everyone that went to the shows on the AIC reunion tour walked away believers, and fully satisfied. Most, if not all of the shows on the tour were sold out. I didn’t talk to a single person that didn’t dig what they had seen.
AIC were better live with Duvall than they were back in the day with Layne (my opinion.) They were always great musicians, but time has made them even better musicians, and they were VERY happy to be back on stage and playing together.
What does this have to do with Blind Melon? I’m guessing that the members of Blind Melon still enjoy making music together as much as the surviving members of AIC do. I’m not sure the world is waiting for a new Blind Melon record, but I’m guessing from what you wrote that you dig Blind Melon as much as I dig Alice in Chains. I’m sure what they are doing, is going to be great – and you’re right, though there is sadness attached, hopefully the fans will dig in, and give it a shot.
Hi (other) Matt,
Thanks for stopping by… heh, as an interesting aside, my name is Matt as well… so there’s a conversation of three Matts going on at the moment in this comment section :P
That’s a great story. I guess what it all boils down to is an element of fear; either fear that the new incarnation won’t live up to the past, or conversely, that it will… and that you’ll have to let go of that idealistic view of the past.
Side note… Alice in Chains? I’m jealous man…
Yeah, I understand that element of fear, and I wish that more music fans, outside of you and I, would be open-minded enough to at least give the new lineup, new direction, whatever it is depending on the band, a chance.
Genesis fans stayed away from the Calling All Stations album in droves, yet despite the fact that the lead singer’s name was neither Phil or Peter, Ray Wilson helped Genesis make what I think is one of the best Genesis albums. Not to mention an album that falls directly into the “underappreciated albums” category.
Yeah, AIC was cool – for the Chicago show – I actually took a bus up to Chicago, and had to be back on a bus about 20 minutes after the show to make it back to Cleveland. A lot of coordination went into making all the pieces fit on that one :-) They shot a live DVD about a year and a half ago – hopefully it will see the light of day, perhaps as a bonus inclusion for the rumored studio album that they’re working on.
I guess all of the Matts really came together on this post. Glad I could help!
I saw them live w/ Travis and before that as Unified Theory…both times were great, made me cry, I loved Shannon! The only celeb I ever cried over when they died. Met the band, had some old indie CDs with us for autograph, they were all way cool!
I agree the only singer I ever cried over and still cry to this day. His performance at Woodstock is unbelievable, such a great frontman, I still love BM, best band of the 90’s. Shannon is my fave frontman. Such a sadness about his death, I don’t think I will ever get over, like a member if my family. He effected my life is such a great way. Thank you Blind Melon