A high school English teacher of mine told a story in class one time about how he saved the drummer of Blind Melon’s life. He was down in New Orleans, providing assistance for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, staying at the same hotel as percussionist Glen Graham. Wherever they were had a dining hall, because my teacher said he watched in morbid amusement as Graham and his girlfriend consumed an entire bottle of Absinthe over dinner that night. Later, when Graham tried the stairs, he stopped halfway up and slowly began falling backward. My teacher swooped in, catching him just before his skull cracked open like a ripe honeydew against the exposed concrete floor. If my teacher hadn’t been there, the Big Easy would have claimed its second member of the band, spurring talk of a Blind Melon curse.
The next day, Graham asked him “You the one that caught me?”
My teacher concluded his story by playing “No Rain”. The song was familiar. I’d always liked it, just never knew the title or who did it before. I went home, looked up some more of the band’s stuff, and was hooked. From that day forward, I was a huge Blind Melon fan. This was right around the time they reformed with Travis Warren (pictured above, top left) on vokes. The second incarnation of Blind Melon released one album, disbanded the same year, got back together, toured sporadically, then quietly faded back into obscurity.
To this day, I love them. If I had to pick one favorite band, it’s Blind Melon. Though their albums are few and far between, what they do put out is absolute gold. I don’t skip any tracks. The only thing most people know them for is the tapdancing bee girl, who was reportedly a brat, and that makes me sad. They have an incredible catalogue.
Imagine my excitement when the gracefully aging rockers announced they were starting work on a new album way back in 2018, their first since 2008’s For My Friends, and second without larger-than-life lead singer Shannon Hoon. Three of the four surviving members were on board, with Travis Warren returning and Nathan Towne filling in for Brad Smith.
From September, 2019 to mid-2020, the quintet cranked out four promising singles. “In the Very Best Way” is still my favorite of the batch. It’s catchy as Hell, has that classic guitar sound, and breaks from the typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure. You can really hear Graham beating the shit out of the drums. That man has a new lease on life!
“The plan was to come out to Joshua Tree and all stay here for a couple weeks and finish this record…” de facto spokesperson Thorn explained in a Facebook Live video during the pandemic. “And then, like everybody, everybody’s plans changed. So, we’re gonna finish this record and we’re gonna do it remotely. And it’s working out for us, you know? We want to get some music to you guys.”
Two years ago this past Friday, Guitar World published an article titled “Blind Melon: “We’re releasing 10-12 singles instead of an album all at once – we’d rather remind people we exist every couple of months than every 2 years”.
Well, here we are.
Guitarist Rogers “With an S” Stevens expanded, saying “My thinking is you’re better off reminding people you still exist every couple of months than reminding them once every two years with a media blitz… when there are 10-12 [songs], we’re going to press vinyl and sell it to whoever wants it.”
The next month, they dropped two versions of “Strikes Back”, a title suggesting they wanted to make an impression. And that was it. There haven’t been any further developments. We’re approaching seven-hundred days of radio silence. I wonder what the holdup is. It’s not like the well has run dry. They’ve still got that spark and they sounded rejuvenated. Thorn claimed to have written more songs at his new studio in Joshua Tree than during the rest of his career. Warren has two solo albums and countless singles in the can since 2019. Three additional Melon titles I remember being tossed around were “Ramblin”, “Matter to You”, and something to the effect of “Start Breaking My Heart”. Where are those?
If we’re not getting new material, how ’bout some old? I’d love to hear cleaned up, remastered versions of “Rebirth”, “What You Lost”, “Soul One (electric)”, “Tickled Pink”, “Ever Had the Feeling”, “Letters From a Porcupine (full band)”, “Wooh Dog”, “No Bidness”, “Frosting a Cake”, “Brittle Little Baby”, “Untitled in C”, “No Lyrics”, “I Am a Dreamer”, the rendition of “No Rain” where the Velvet Underground is great, and anything else that’s just sitting in a vault.
Us melonheads would have starved to death a long time ago if it weren’t for the bootlegs the band seems to encourage and various projects the members were involved in over the years. In the late 90s, Stevens moved to New York and formed Extra Virgin with Rene Lopez, who previously auditioned to replace Hoon. They released one album, Twelve Stories High. Spacehog frontman Royston Langdon joined them and they became The Tender Trio. In the Meantime (see what I’ve done?), Thorn and Smith founded Unified Theory with Dave Krusen of Pearl Jam’s Ten and the angelic Chris Shinn. They put out one self-titled album during their brief existence and a second years later. After Unified Theory dissolved, Shinn fronted Everything is Energy while Thorn and Smith played in Halo Complex. Smith also has a pair of solo albums under the name Abandon Jalopy. I recommend all this stuff.
Blind Melon, please come back! It would be the perfect way to kick off 2023. And Graham, for God’s sake, no more recreations of “St. Andrew’s Fall”. Any fans care to discuss the finer points of this underrated band? Leave a comment below.
I remember being invited to a pool party and when I showed up it was just me and my friend. But we got really drunk and he went full Patrick Bateman in his discussion of Blind Melon while I sat there silently waiting to get axed in the face. It really blew his mind that Melon essentially layered two guitar riffs on top of one another to create a single harmony (or whatever the correct musical terminology is). I never appreciated Blind Melon before that
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Sounds fun and scary 😂 Your friend is a man of culture. I don’t know anything about music. I do know 90% of the time, one guitarist is the left channel and the other is the right channel, forget which is which, and they just intuitively play off each other without discussing anything. Layering guitars is how the Smashing Pumpkins got that fuzzy sound on Siamese Dream. Some songs apparently have up to 40 layers.
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Well he certainly made me appreciate Blind Melon. I was only knew em from that one song everyone knows. They certainly are talented…and cursed!