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