Does pain make better music?


Sydney Lammey

Davey French of Everclear playing guitar at the 2021 Whittle the Wood Festival in Craig, Colorado

Sydney Lammey, Staff Writer

You may not realize it, but some of the greatest songs come from pain and life experiences. Songs like Asking For It by Hole and Bleed the Freak by Alice in Chains come from the artist’s personal struggles. 

Music is a way of expression. A lot of artists use it as a way of expression, or maybe even as an escape from their normal lives. 

A great example of pain making better music is Heroin Girl by Everclear. Released in 1995 on their debut album Sparkle and Fade, Art Alexakis illustrates his personal life experiences from losing people close to him to addiction, to facing his very own addiction. Heroin Girl was the first Everclear song I ever heard, and I was hooked. The song starts off talking about his girlfriend, Heroin Girl, who “gives him what he needs for his disease,” the disease being his addiction to heroin. As the story unfolds, we are painted a picture of a girl Alexakis really cares about, leading up to her eventual overdose. The song revolves around the line, “I heard a policeman say, “just another overdose.’” Alexakis’ brother passed away from a heroin overdose when he was only 12 years old. The line hits really hard as we begin to understand what he is talking about. Addiction is so stigmatized and the police seem to not really care.

I had the opportunity to see Everclear in concert in the summer of 2021. It was a really great experience and hearing Heroin Girl live was bone-chilling. The raw emotion of the vocals and the heartfelt guitar parts were truly amazing.

Without pain, we wouldn’t have the songs we love. While I am not saying ruin your life for a check, it is a really interesting thing to observe. 

A lot of musicians in the rock scene, especially the Seattle scene, have unfortunately passed away from suicide or accidental overdose. It is important to keep in mind that, while they left amazing legacies, that legacy did not come without struggle.