What follows is a bit of a Why It Matters spoiler, so if that’s something that matters to you this is a good time to bail out.
I eventually lost my shit in Los Angeles. Four million people in that city, and I’d never felt so alone. When Jody left, so did my self-esteem, my identity — everything. I sunk into a deep depression, though I didn’t know it. This was when my OCD first manifested itself. I cut myself, got piercings and tattoos. All I wanted was to hurt.
Right around that same time, Stone Temple Pilots released their debut album, Core. It became the last album that I connected with in that way that only young people can, where the music is a proxy for one’s own tattered feelings. I latched onto Core, and it became my soundtrack for getting the hell out of both Los Angeles and, eventually, that particular depressive episode.
When Weiland went through his Bowie phase on subsequent albums I moved him to that top shelf labeled “rock star,” one of those rare untouchable golden gods that no longer exist. He was the last musician that I placed on that dusty shelf before I put away childish things. When Velvet Revolver came along a few years later my interest in the band centered around their charismatic front man, not Slash or Duff.
I knew about his troubles. Everybody did. Just two months ago a fellow music writer told me about a miserable sit down interview he had with Weiland, the singer so loaded he couldn’t stay awake. I shrugged it off as gossip, but inside I hoped it wasn’t true.
Here’s what it comes down to, I guess: My problems have never been as bad as his, but our ages were only separated by a few months. I’ve never dealt with addiction, just my own little flavor of batshit craziness. I survived my twenties, then my thirties. I’m doing okay on my forties so far, too, though there’s been some moments that felt a little touch and go. When somebody so close to my age dies — somebody whose work is woven into my own personal soundtrack — it hits home. I can’t dismiss it with a flippant, “Oh, he was a junkie. Everybody knows that.” He was one of us, and if it could happen to him it could happen to me.
So to be totally honest here, I don’t know who exactly I’m grieving for tonight. I don’t know if it’s Weiland’s family, Weiland himself, or for my dusty shelf of childish things that I cling to for security when it’s raining in my bedroom and the compulsion to hurt myself comes on strong. This is the downside of still standing as the decades fall away, I suppose. Not only do one’s friends and family die, but so do the pop culture icons who added color to our otherwise drab lives.
Or something like that. So long, Scott. You mattered.