It's strange how a place you have never been to, in a land far, far away, can influence you in ways that are profound and permanent, or at least as far as permanence goes in a world where nothing is permanent.
I remember 1992. I remember being raised on music in the 80s and the search for authenticity without even realising it. The rejection of lipstick and leotard and hairspray and the search for something more real, something more raw. Refusing to swallow the absurd posturing of the Bon Jovis and Motley Crues and seeking something faster, something harder, something louder... Something that captured the loneliness and anger of the big dreams in a small town with little hope and fewer prospects. A search that led to the Metallicas and Megadeths of the world, like a rattlesnake in a tin can, all noise and fury.
And yet something was missing.
There was technique.
There was attitude.
There was form.
There was a scream at a speed that left skid marks on the back of your neck.
But there wasn't any truth.
And then Seattle happened.
It's strange how tuning a guitar down a scale can spark a revolution. But in 1992 I realised that music could express how I felt with more accuracy and truth than a million words. That a song had the ability to make you not just feel, but to understand yourself and the world around you better.
A 14 year old in a small town in the foothills of the Himalayas could listen to Soundgarden or Pearl Jam or Alice in Chains playing a song in a rainy, cold, windswept city by the Pacific Ocean, separated by two oceans and three continents, and feel "this is a song about me" without knowing a single line of the song and what the singer meant.
From that moment on, I looked at art differently. Books, movies, painting, music...the carriers of art in popular culture. But what is art? Why is art the preserve of the custodians of culture and intellect? Why is art defined by those who seek to strip art of its honesty and humanity and imprison it within the walls of museums, the chains of critical acclaim and the fetters of technique and form.
From Hemingway to Banksy to Seattle, all the art that I love has this in common...it seeks to capture something human... A moment, a feeling, an emotion... to sift through the noise and static of modern life to find and express something that is honest and authentic and universal ...something profoundly human. And no amount of bullshit technique and intellectualism can ever capture the wide eyed magic of seeing the world in a way that is fresh and true and authentic.
Art isn't beauty. Art is truth. And in truth, there is the greatest beauty of all.
That's what Seattle taught me.