By the spring of 1992, I had finally saved up enough money from my small paper route to purchase my first CD player. It was a peak moment in my otherwise geeky sixth grade existence. My next door neighbor, who was a year older than me, had already begun acquiring a significant collection of the usual suspects, such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Primus, Smashing Pumpkins, Jane’s Addiction. He sympathetically sent me home one afternoon with a copy of Boyz II Men – Cooleyhighharmony, which he had failed to sell at his parent’s yard sale the week before. I definitely wore that one out, but it was more out of necessity than by choice.
Thankfully, partially in protest to hearing that record on an incessant loop, my folks drove me to the local independent record store in Eau Claire, called Tu Trax. I picked up Alice in Chains‘ Dirt, which had been on my wish list for a while. I had already listened to this record a bunch of times while hanging out at friends’ houses, so my folks hadn’t had a buffer for what they were about to hear coming through the floor of my upstairs bedroom. It must have been somewhat of a shock to hear their son go from blasting DC Talk and Amy Grant tapes from a tiny boombox just weeks before, to “Yeah, they come to snuff the rooster,” or “What the hell am I/Thousand eyes a fly/Lucky then I’d be/In one day deceased” being delivered in that deliciously hideous, nasally bellow. The switch from tape to CD was much more than a technological advancement, it was an aesthetic evolution into adolescence as well!