I worked at a record store for most of my college days. The pay was terrible, the customers had bad taste (for the most part), and the owner was always doing some untoward stuff that later resulted in his partner kicking him out of the business… but it may have been the best job I’ve ever had. Why was it the best job ever? Because my income was supplemented by an unending supply of promo CDs, first crack at all CDs being traded in by customers, and my name always happened to make it onto the guest list of two of the three big music venues in town. Plus my co-workers were a diverse group of equally music-obsessed nerds, punk rockers, hip-hop enthusiasts and an Anglophile manager who became one of my best friends. It was pretty epic, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Working in a record store also gave me special insight into crazy rabbit hole of music theory conspiracies. My buddy Ryan Shaw had this theory about Andrew Wood, the lead singer of Mother Love Bone and the first major heroin casualty of the grunge era. His theory was that Andrew Wood was the prophet that rock and roll was promised, that he would be overlooked and ridiculed in his own time, and then sentenced to death for the sins of rock and roll, only to be resurrected and live eternally through his disciples and their testimony.
In other words, Andrew Wood was the Jesus Christ of Grunge who had to die for the sins of Hair Metal so that Rock and Roll could live on.
SIDE NOTE: My buddy Ryan was an ordained minister who later became a trial lawyer, so that gives credence to the underpinning philosophy of the theory.
Much like B.C. and A.D., prior to Andrew Wood there was no “Alternative” but after his death we started living in the Alternative age. Grunge, Indie and Nu-Metal, Emo, and Alt-Country were all new gospels that were written in the aftermath of Andrew Wood’s passing… So if Andrew Wood was the Jesus Christ of Grunge, who were his apostles?
Stone Gossard as SIMON/PETER - The rock upon which the Temple of the Dog was built, literally. Stone Gossard is the through line for the Seattle sound and was ever present in its inception. From his time at Green River to Mother Love Bone to Temple of the Dog to Pearl Jam and then Brad, Gossard was the foundation stone. Without Stone Gossard, would there even be grunge? Stone is the rhythm (along with his brother Jeff Ament) from which the music is manifested. Gossard may never have been front and center in all of the bands he formed, but he spoke softly and carried a big axe.
Chris Cornell as JOHN - John was the disciple whom Jesus loved the most. Chris was Andrew’s roommate and best friend. When Andrew overdosed, Chris was on a European tour with Soundgarden striking his own Jesus Christ pose. Chris was so grief stricken with the loss that he immediately wrote two songs “Say Hello 2 Heaven” and “Reach Down” about Wood. Chris showed them to Stone and Jeff, and Temple of the Dog was formed to honor their late friend. Chris would later hit mainstream success with Soundgarden and with Audioslave (which was just okay but waaaayyy to mellow for a band composed of members of Rage Against the Machine and Soundgarden).
Jeff Ament as ANDREW (Simon/Peter’s brother) -
Ament was right there with Stone in Green River, Mother Love Bone,
Temple of the Dog and then Pearl Jam. He’s the bass that pulses the
heartbeat of the music. Plus, his graphic design sense provided the
classic look and feel of all the liner notes and album packaging for
those bands (which along with flannel, long hair, and Doc Martens worn
with shorts, were essential cornerstones of the era). Through Ames Bros.
Design, Pearl Jam’s visual aesthetic was really set in stone and their
tour posters became must-have’s for screen print enthusiasts everywhere.
Music never looked so good.
Eddie Vedder as JAMES, SON of ALPHAEUS - Some people say that James was literally Jesus’ little brother, while other’s interpret it metaphorically because upon dying Jesus said to James that Mary was now his mother, and James was now her son. Either way, Eddie Veddie was the younger brother of Andrew Wood who then took his mother’s hand and ushered in a new era of grunge. Eddie would tell you that he’s no fucking messiah, which is meant as a testament to the love he had for his brother.
SIDE NOTE:I almost had Eddie as Paul/Saul, not one of the original 12 apostles, but one of the most steadfast and true disciples of Jesus whose writings to the Romans and to the Corinthians would help shape Christian philosophy for many centuries to come. As the lead singer and songwriter of Pearl Jam, you could make a case that Eddie is Paul, but I don’t think he’s gentile enough for that. He’s Eddie Vedder, and that’s an entirely different essay.
Kurt Cobain as SIMON THE CANAANITE or SIMON THE ZEALOT - Simon the Zealot was known for strictly keeping the law of Moses (the Ten Commandments) and had great disregard for where he saw people headed. In Jesus, Simon found someone who was practicing what he preached. Simon would go on to evangelize the gospel in much of the west including throughout Egypt and into Africa. Kurt Cobain hated the mainstream and was a zealot when it came to grunge. He spread the word far and high and carried the tradition well.
Layne Staley as THADDEUS - Cool name. Cool band. When a jar of flies is kept for too long, the man in a box digs some dirt. Staley of Alice in Chains and Mad Season fame burned out too soon, but man was he cool.
Dave Grohl as MATTHEW/LEVI - Matthew/Levi was the tax collector who gave up his job and life to follow Jesus. He was the author of one of the gospels (Gospel of Matthew). Grohl was a drummer who later gave up that life to lead his own band, the Foo Fighters, who went on to become one of the biggest alternative bands (and David Letterman’s favorite band).
Kim Thyll as JAMES (brother of John) - James was John’s brother who followed him along and became an apostle. He had a moment of doubt when Jesus came back to life and doubted that it was really Jesus. Kim followed Chris Cornell into Soundgarden and preached the gospel upon a black hole sun. He later had many doubts when Chris left the band and stored to become a pop singer and then started Audioslave, which was terrible. Eventually, Soundgarden reformed and the word could go on being spread, one music hall, arena or outdoor festival at a time.
Jerry Cantrell as BARTHOLOMEW - Cool name. Cool band. Do the Bart, man!
Mark Arm as PHILIP - Philip was an apostle, but he didn’t really matter. He was there at the start and probably did some stuff but you can’t really remember it. That’s kind of like Mark Arm and Mudhoney. He started Green River and recruited Stone Gossard to the band because he only wanted to sing instead of sing and play guitar. Then He formed Mudhoney. They had a moment for a slight minute but most people couldn’t tell them apart from Tad. How’s that for a Judgement Night?
Courtney Love as MARY MAGDALENE - Go listen to Hole’s first record, Live Through This, and you’ll be asking Courtney if you could wash HER feet. From start to finish, that album is all killer and no filler, regardless of wether Kurt Cobain wrote it or not.
Thurston Moore as JUDAS - Sonic Youth were grunge before grunge was a thing. They ushered in the alt-rock movement and were preaching the gospel way before it was cool. In another world, Thurston Moore would have been John the Baptist, but he blew up the band by betraying Kim Deal (whom the Dandy Warhols rightly worshipped in their song “As Cool as Kim Deal”). So, yeah. Thurston Moore is Judas.
Paul Westerberg as JOHN THE BAPTIST - He came first and helped lay the groundwork for the alternative movement. This could have easily gone to Michael Stipe of R.E.M., but The Replacements were much better and spawned a legion of followers. The Mats work in the 80s at Twin Tone and in Minneapolis would help to set up the dynamic that would take place in Seattle with Sub Pop. Westerberg couldn’t hardly wait…
With Pearl Jam having recently been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, now more than ever, we should give thanks and praise to the great Andrew Wood, the Captain Hi-Top, Love Commander (it is right to give him thanks and praise). For he so loved rock and roll and that he was forced to suffer, die and was buried for its sins so that rock could be reborn again. May he rest in peace today, knowing that his words still resonate with the masses.
So come bite the apple, my fellow star dog champions.
Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam Mark Arm, Mudhoney Courtney Love, Hole Layne Staley, Alice in Chains Chris Cornell, Soundgarden Kurt Cobain, Nirvana Andrew Wood, Mother Love Bone Mark Lanegan, Screaming Trees Ben McMillan, Skin Yard