I tried to express this in a Flash Fiction form, but I couldn’t make it work. I deleted nearly three different versions, and I never delete when writing here. Deletion means I’m lying.

Today is the anniversary of the death of a man named Layne Staley. Layne was the original lead singer for Alice in Chains, one of several bands who I hold in high esteem for helping me through darker days. Not that my life is filled with some twisted and horrible past, but I’ve certainly had my struggles and I have always turned to music to help me in dealing with them.

Layne Staley said words that I never heard anyone else say before, at least not in a way that felt compelling. I still remember where I was when I first heard him sing:

I want to taste dirty
a stinging pistol
in my mouth, on my tongue
I want you to scrape me from the walls
and go crazy like you’ve made me

Amazing shit, and I say shit in the most endearing way possible. That song made an impact on me. A lot of songs from Alice in Chains did, and from other groups as well. Music has been such a core coping mechanism for me, for almost as long as I can remember. Certainly for as long as I had access to it.

I cannot express how incredibly important these songs have been for me. To be able to scream and yell and express so many forms of rage with another person who seems to feel exactly the way I do, to know that I’m not alone in those struggles and to share them with someone who will never know my name or even know I existed, was possibly life saving. Certainly life altering. I honestly don’t know what would have happened if I had been unable to express specific feelings in such a nondestructive way. It’s never good to keep things bottled inside.

Layne Staley, I thank you. I thank you and so many others like you, dead and alive, for creating an outlet of expression and release. With as much sincerity as I can offer, rest in peace.

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