Nothing’s Shocking by Jane’s Addiction; A Quick Look at the Band’s 1988 Debut
Indulgent & excessive. Introspective and endearing. The LP's dichotomy drives a large part of it's appeal.
Today we’re taking a quick look at Nothing’s Shocking” by Jane’s Addiction as it turns 35.
Jane’s Addiction is two bands. There is the blissed-out, just-this-side-of-metaphysical band — that’s the one that puts candles on stage and occasionally manages to work steel drums into acoustic sets. The other half is a hard-charging dirty rock band — Gen X’s answer to Led Zeppelin.
Growing up, many girls in my world loved lead singer Perry Farrell because he came across as sensitive. The guys I knew thought he was cool because…well, girls liked him. The rest of us bought into all that but liked the band, too. Which songs you preferred depended on which definition of the band you subscribed to.
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The band’s debut record, Nothing’s Shocking, has plenty for each camp. Jane Says is one of the band’s most famous tracks — Gen X’s answer to “Walk On the Wild Side.”
For a song about a roommate who does heroin, it sure got a lot of airplay in darkened rooms and over countless bottles of red wine — the lilting melody and previously noted steel drums don’t hurt.
Nothing’s Shocking is shot through with a volatile combination of awe and fear, reverence and resentment, four exceedingly headstrong artists vying for the direction of a song, never knowing if they’d get the chance to do it again. Navarro drew the metalheads, having forged his craft putting fellow Guitar Center lurkers to shame with front-to-back recitals of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin albums. Yet when Jane’s earned comparisons to Zeppelin, it was largely due to the acoustic light and shade he brought to “Ocean Size” and “Jane Says.” A professed Deadhead, Navarro also understood the value of interplay; there’s a time for shredding, like when “Mountain Song” and “Had a Dad” require an emotional pitch out of Farrell’s range, and a time to hold back.1
Before I moved to a place that couldn’t be bothered with terrain, I loved to ski, and before I would drop in on my first run, I’d cue up Mountain Song on my Walkman (if that’s not a tell, I don’t know what is) and go. That I could afford to go skiing as a high school student should also tell you how old I am.
Did Farrell & Co. have the Cascades in mind when they wrote it? I doubt it.
But that’s the beauty of the band- and this record. You see what you want to in it.
Jane’s Addiction| Nothing’s Shocking, 1988
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What are your thoughts on this record? Any favorite tracks or memories associated with it? At 35, does it still hold up? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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