Released January 25, 1994
Favorite track: I Stay Away
Could it be that Jar of Flies is Alice in Chains's greatest album? Survey says.......
This particular album kept me company a lot back in high school. Like most other grunge albums, I was suddenly inundated with a flood of nostalgia the first time I heard No Excuses. I can't really say for sure with I Stay Away, but I know that No Excuses had been something I heard back when I was a kid. The song has such a "frolicking in the summer" vibe, reminding me of the times I used to go to the park with my mom. The whole album is just soooooo warm - which I feel like is PARTIALLY owed to the cover art and music videos really setting the tone.
I actually had a whole document that had my theories of what the album was about laid out somewhere. I think it's a concept album! To me it's the story of a person who abandons their home and old life because of a perceived "rottenness" inside them, either due to their own actions or the treatment of others or both. It's like a three-act play with an intermission....
The first act (Rotten Apple and Nutshell) is about the person's low self image and how they now see how much of a terrible person they have been and realizing what they must do - crawl back to start. Start all over. The second act begins the journey off to a rocky start, with them still feeling distrustful and getting defensive (I Stay Away). As it continues, they mellow out a bit and begin some real introspection, where they reflect on their relationships and actions and begin to realize the error of their ways (No Excuses). You could probably interpret Whale & Wasp as being the musical embodiment of their journey back home. Don't Follow and Swing on This feel like two sides of the same coin - both are recaps of their journey as well as their return home. Don't Follow takes the more emotional road revealing the person's inner thoughts in a slightly more grounded way. Swing on This feels more like it empathizes with their family/friends' perspective on their disappearance and is reminiscent of someone going "yeah I might have overreacted a bit".
This album also has the unique honor of including a song I know how to play by heart AND sing along to! That is not a very common combination as far as my guitar career goes. No matter what, I never forget ANYTHING about how to play I Stay Away - and I forget stuff for even the most basic of songs, like Nirvana songs!!!! This is truly a miracle. I used to play it so much at school that people started calling it "my" song. It's also the first song I performed completely solo. I love it soooo much!!