A to Z challenge – Day 20

#AtoZChallenge 2021 badge

T is for Tool

I am a little behind because we had a lot of stress since Friday; my son broke his leg. I will detail this in my Wednesday post but in the meantime, I will write all the remaining posts for the challenge and get them posted or scheduled.

Tool is a band I discovered around the same time as I did Pantera but they were so different in sound but similar enough in dark themes that I could not help but be drawn. Honestly, they scared me a little. Their music videos were, truthfully, terrifying. At the time, Mtv still played videos so I always caught the one for Sober, which featured creepy claymation guys who dragged their decaying bodies through dark hallways, stopping to freak out and move about violently. It was all very eerie.

But setting aside the visuals, their songs still spoke to me. Undertow, which featured the aforementioned song, was the first album of theirs I really listened to, since most folks were barely aware of their first EP anyway. From their second outing, aside from Prison Sex, this is the song I like most:

I loved that Henry Rollins had a part on this song; his spoken word stuff always entertained me (see his song, Liar).

Soon after I moved onto their next album Aenima, which was even better. Stinkfist, H, and Forty-six and 2 are all amazing. All their songs seem so raw and honest. The way Maynard James Keenan sings makes you FEEL his hurt, pain, despair, yearning.

For a good long while, the above was my favorite. It feels like you’re in some alternate world, living through this emotion. Then he hits you with the lines:

“I am too connected to you to
Slip away, fade away.
Days away I still feel you
Touching me, changing me”

Good lord, really? I mean, you FEEL that. Pretty sure I have cried to this song.

I only really listened to those two albums ad nauseum; at a point I did put on Lateralus but always came back to these. Now, a little Tool-related story. In my junior year of college I lived in a crappy apartment about 7 minutes from campus (also fun fact: my friends Sabrina and Greg, who we know from here, also lived there. I did not know them then.) and one summer, a couple guys named Jeff and Mike moved in across the way. We were not pretty or traditional girls so we did not figure these boys would befriend us… but they did. Mike and I spent hours listening to Tool and writing together, because he fancied himself a sort of poet. To this day I still heed his advice: When you can’t get started or you can’t get past a certain point in your writing, write the same word over and over until you get out of the rut.

Mike was a troubled kid, always getting into scuffles and situations. I had to bail his ass out of jail one night for picking a fight with two black guys he saw walking down the street. He wanted to talk Jazz music but I guess they disagreed. I talked a cop out of arresting him one night at Brother’s nightclub because Mike had convinced the bartender to make him a drink even though he was underage. I was unsuccessful in talking him out of getting tattooed when he was drunk and decided he needed Chinese symbols on each shoulder blade. The kid was insane. I wonder what happened to him; I heard he moved back to Boston where he was from. I moved across town and started dating my now husband. But I’ll never forget Mike and the way he “got” Tool in the same way I did.

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