Weekend Listening: Soup by Blind Melon
Album: Soup by Blind Melon
Released: August 15, 1995 – Capitol Records
Recommended if you like: That Bee Girl song, but also Pearl Jam’s Vs and other 90s Nu-Psychedelia
Notable Tracks: “Mouthful of Cavities” “Galaxie” “Skinned”
It is June 22, 1996 and I am dancing around in my room to Stevie Nicks on the night before my 17th birthday, getting ready for a “surprise” party I don’t want to have. I hate having attention on me at all, and I’ve known about this party for weeks and have been filled with a low level current of dread about the whole thing because I will be expected to entertain and be things like HAPPY and SURPRISED and GRATEFUL..I am rarely any of those things.
Most of the people that are there I am semi-friends with. We’ve gone to school together since I was in the fifth grade, and their parents are friends of my mom. Maybe they want to be there, maybe they don’t. But it FEELS like they don’t. My older cousin (one of the few members of that side of the family I legitimately like) arrives with a few of her friends. One I know, and two I don’t. She pulls me aside and tells me that she’s arranged with my mom for me to cut out early so she can take me to a REAL party with people she knows I will like, and suddenly things aren’t seeming so horrible.
It’s time to open presents, and I don’t remember anything I got because as I finish, two of the people my cousin brought with her come back in from smoking, only this time they have their guitars with them. My cousin follows with the bongo she keeps in the trunk of her car. I have no idea what is going on.
And then these people I don’t know start playing “Mouthful of Cavities” and I am suddenly struggling not to cry. My cousin smiles and leans in and tells me I’m supposed to start singing any second and that’s why they’re here. I am hit with a blinding panic for some reason. I sing all the time. I mean ALL. THE. TIME. I basically never stop singing, but at this exact moment in time, I have no voice. This guy I don’t know gives me a look and starts in, and I stare for a few seconds before I can even remember the words. But by the time he gets to “desperately in need,” I’ve overcome myself and the fact that people are actually watching and I close my eyes and start belting out what was my favourite song, on what I would have told you at the time was one of my favourite albums. By the time the song ends, I am crying and praying that no one is actually looking because holy shit that was such an intense personal experience that I don’t like these people enough to have let them witness it.
If you lived through the 90s (or are a late-coming fan of the decade in which you were born, though that makes me feel old af), you’ll know that Blind Melon’s 1992 viral-before-viral-was-a-thing “No Rain” was inefuckingscapable. That song was everywhere. I didn’t even have MTV, but I had seen the video enough times that I was sick to goddamn death of the song before I actually bought the album used for $1 and listened to the entire thing. It’s kind of sad that they’re pretty much only known for the one song, cos their debut is actually pretty fucking delightful if you’re into that southern alt-rock sorta thing.
As good as their s/t is, it’s their second album, Soup, which dropped three years later that will be playing in my headphones all weekend. While they got some press for the first album, probably because of that unbelievable hype around “No Rain,” Soup was almost universally panned by critics because it didn’t fit into that crunchy hippie box everyone tried to shove them in. I read those terrible reviews (because good lord, I had so many music magazine subscriptions), but that didn’t stop me from showing up at my semi-local music shop (an hour away in a different state [holla, GZ!]) within a few days of its release to plunk my money down on the counter and walk out swinging a GZ bag containing this CD in its eco-friendly digipak case…along with a few stickers, cos I could never have too many stickers.
I didn’t have a CD player in my car (remind me sometime to tell you about my stereo setup in that Subaru, cos it was painful), so I didn’t even get to listen to it until I got home. But then I DID get home and I DID listen and I didn’t STOP listening for close to a year.
My musical tastes have always been varied, but this album had something for every part of me. “Skinned,” a song with a kazoo solo about serial killer Ed Gein? Yup. The raunchy NOLA-inspired horns on the too-short intro “Hello Goodbye”? Loved them. “Galaxie,” where Shannon Hoon sings about the only place he feels he belongs is in his car, alone with his thoughts? That was me. “Carseat (God’s Presents)” channels the Maharishi era Beatles, but is about Susan Smith, the woman who drove her car into a South Carolina lake, killing her two children. While I don’t condone killing your offspring, the song itself is nonetheless endlessly compelling.
I spent this week listening again, and was semi-amazed to find that I still have pretty much every song memorized, and I had no qualms about singing along loudly. But then…singing along loudly has pretty much always been my thing. I just no longer care if there are people around, or what they think of my voice. I sing for me. Because it makes me happy.