Music therapy

Layne Staley, 14 Years Later

by Bill Brenner April 5, 2016 Addiction

“What’s my drug of choice? Well, what have you got?” —Layne Staley, Alice in Chains This week marks 14 years since Alice In Chains frontman Layne Staley was found dead. Mood music: Like Kurt Cobain, Staley had a big impact on me in the early 1990s. But while I identified with Cobain’s depression, I identified with Staley for his inability to keep his addictive demons at bay. I can’t tell you how many times I listened…  [Read More]

22 Years Ago: The Day Kurt Cobain Died

by Bill Brenner April 4, 2016 Addiction

I remember exactly where I was 22 years ago this week, when I saw the news flash about Kurt Cobain’s suicide. I was lying in bed, depressed and reclusive because of frequent fear. Mood music:  I was living in Lynnfield, Mass., at the time. I had a room in the basement, just like I had in Revere. But this space was much smaller — a jail cell with a nice blue carpet. But I did have…  [Read More]

Remembering Cliff Burton, Metallica’s Original Bassist

by Bill Brenner September 27, 2015 Coping tools

I couldn’t let the day go by without acknowledging a grim anniversary. Twenty-nine years ago today, Metallica bassist Cliff Burton was killed when the band’s tour bus flipped over on a lonely road in Sweden. Mood music:  The band’s first three albums had a huge impact on me. In fact, Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” album helped me get through my last major attack of Crohn’s Disease. It might seem bat-shit crazy of me to intertwine these…  [Read More]

Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys

by Bill Brenner July 7, 2015 Music therapy

Being a metalhead, one would expect me to hate a group like The Beach Boys, yet I’ve played them nonstop for a month now. Mood music: I started taking an interest after seeing a preview for the film Love and Mercy, in which actors Paul Dano and John Cusack play Brian Wilson during two stages of his life — the 1960s and the 1980s. I started playing the whole Beach Boys catalog, particularly the album Pet Sounds, widely…  [Read More]

Heavy Metal Saved Me

by Bill Brenner February 2, 2015 Coping tools

I am your main man, if you’re looking for trouble. I’ll take no lip, no one’s tougher than me. I kicked your face you’d soon be seeing double. Hey little girl, keep your hands off of me…I’m a rocker. “The Rocker,” by Thin Lizzy A lot of people are amused to learn about my musical tastes. My work space at home and the office is cluttered with political and history-based trinkets, which would leave one…  [Read More]

The Lost Generation of Revere, Mass.

by Bill Brenner November 22, 2014 Addiction

An old friend from the Point of Pines, Revere, sent me a note some time ago. He came across my post on Zane Mead and another on the Bridge Rats gang. For him, they brought up more memories of kids from the neighborhood who died young. Mood music: I’ll keep his name and certain details out to protect his privacy, but here’s some of what he wrote to me: I came across your piece in…  [Read More]

New SIXX A.M. Music

by Bill Brenner September 5, 2014 Music therapy

The Prednisone is making me pretty stabby of late and I’m relying on some heavy-duty music therapy to keep my temper in check. Happily, there’s a new SIXX A.M. album coming out next month and four songs are already available on YouTube. I’m digging the new material, and decided to make a playlist here. So here you have it, four new songs from the upcoming album “Modern Vintage.”

Zakk Wylde’s Fallen Heroes Tribute

by Bill Brenner May 1, 2014 Music therapy

Of all the great songs Black Label Society frontman Zakk Wylde has written, my favorite is “In This River.” Over time, it’s become a tribute to his close friend, Pantera guitarist Darrell Lance Abbott, more popularly known as Dimebag Darrell. Dimebag Darrell was gunned down nearly a decade ago while onstage with his post-Pantera band, Damageplan. Wylde was one of his best friends, and I can feel the depth of his loss whenever I listen to the song. Wylde…  [Read More]

RIP, Oderus Urungus

by Bill Brenner March 24, 2014 Music therapy

As a troubled kid, I had a special appreciation for Gwar. For the lost soul in need of metallic rock therapy, these guys delivered. What’s more, they were perfect for when heavy-duty escapism and entertainment was required. I’m sad to hear that Dave Brockie — a.k.a Oderus Urungus — has died at age 50. Mood music: Brockie had a voice and stage presence that was beyond over the top. I’m fairly sure it wasn’t even part of…  [Read More]

Rock and Metal Christmas Songs

by Bill Brenner December 12, 2013 Music therapy

I dislike most rock ‘n roll Christmas songs. The Kinks asking Father Christmas for money? Not a fan. Billy Squier singing that Christmas is a time to say I love you? Hate it. I love those artists, just not those songs. Though I’m a heavy metal fan, I have to admit Christmas songs of that genre aren’t much better. But occasionally, rock and metal musicians manage to pull off something special — songs done so magically…  [Read More]