Much like a few other Seattle “grunge” era bands, Alice in Chains albums could be referred to as metal. (With the exception of the acoustic EP’s Sap, Jar of Flies and the Unplugged album).
Dirt represented a rawness of emotion. Themes of anger, depression and addiction run well together. “Them Bones” blasts off the start of the record telling you to live in the moment and take charge. If you feel alone, reach out. Layne Stayley was singing what many in darkness are thinking. It’s telling you that you are not alone. In a sense it warns a listener that not getting help could result in a rough ride. It offers encouragement.
“Dam That River” is a track with many interpretations. I’ve always personally viewed it as about overcoming moments of anxiety and depression. Defeating that monster, building up the dam to prevent the river from overflowing. Then it does overflow. Sometimes that river is hard to dam up. So you keep building. Find ways to cope.
“Rooster” offered a look into the psychological scarring of war. Jerry Cantrell’s song written from the standpoint of his Vietnam War veteran Dad was a history lesson. It discussed post-traumatic stress disorder before PTSD was given it’s widely known name. Young listeners discovered that war was not fun and games and something to be celebrating. It left me wondering about the veterans in my own family. Did they have scars that they were hiding?
The songs with drug references were difficult to understand initially. Through the years I’ve come to understand them. Having never touched hard drugs, listening to tracks with drug references may have kept me away from them. As someone with a slightly addictive personality, it was a good thing I stayed away.