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cassette

neither of us was emotionally stable
when she made me a mix tape
in the mid nineties

we listened to it on the highway
without a reason to be there
except for driving at unreasonable volume

two songs on that cassette stayed with me
we die young by alice in chains
and passive restraints by clutch

as just another grunge member of generation x
i should have heard alice in chains before 1997
but i ignored commercial radio all my adult life

we die young retains their hair metal sensibility
while foreshadowing the heavy suicidal brilliance
of subsequent albums

but the clutch tune eclipsed it
combining a description of cars
with sexual power and surrender

expressing things i felt for her
but she felt for someone else
and i should have known that

early clutch riffs are not difficult
beginners can play them
but their ferocity and massive sound remain unmatched

when we saw clutch in pontiac they were just okay
though other times ive seen them
are among my favorite concerts

in hindsight it says a lot about my twenties
not really formed yet as a person
i was in the process of becoming someone else

it didn’t surprise me when layne staley died
he sang about heroin addiction and death
so it felt more predictable than the weather

what really surprised me
was how clutch recorded album after album
blowing away even that first impetus ep

and if i had to pick one perfect rock album
to listen to for the rest of my life
it would be blast tyrant

maybe everyone has an album like that
one that never grows old
no matter how many years go by

ive become more cynical and set in my ways
but every time i hear those songs
i miss her