Let’s clear up some confusion: Blind Melon weren’t the Beatles. They weren’t The Beach Boys, The Stones, or Otis Redding either. They were an early 90s radio band who got briefly famous off a novelty gimmick before imploding amidst lead singer Shannon Hoon’s coke overdose. They only recorded three albums, one of which was a hastily-thrown together posthumous compilation, and in all honesty, they did almost nothing to alter or change the course of music. But none of that matters. Blind Melon was my Nirvana. My Sex Pistols. The first band that ever meant something to me. I can still vividly remember sitting in my basement and seeing the video for “No Rain.” The grass was so green, the smiles so authentic. It almost felt utopian. The next day, I convinced my mother to drive me to a local record store, and I picked up their entire discography. A few months later, I bought Letters From A Porcupine and proceeded to watch it a few times a month for the next four years. I haven’t seen it since graduating from high school. Until today.

It was haunting. Half a decade ago, I hadn’t the slightest clue as to what heavy drug use looked like. I’d consumed alcohol a few times and tried marijuana, but my eye for spotting downward spirals wasn’t exactly keen. I saw Shannon Hoon as an eccentric, a laid back, long-haired free spirit who’d made some poor choices and ultimately, paid for it. Not anymore. Today, I watched a man with two nostrils in the coke and one foot in the grave. Like a slow motion home plate collision, I squinted my eyes and saw a talented songwriter slowly kill himself over an hour and a half.

Letters From A Porcupine, the name taken from a thirty-second answering machine message Shannon Hoon left shortly before his 1995 death, is an hour and a half Grammy nominated retrospective cobbled together by Chris Jones shortly after the group’s demise. It intersperses live performances, interviews, and old home movies to chronicle the band’s brief history of drug abuse, violence, and multi-platinum records. Occasionally funny, sometimes depressing, and always engaging, the documentary is far more balanced than you would expect from a feature helmed by the band’s manager, and it’s fascinating to watch the five members evolve drastically in just three short years.

I’ve slowly been writing off Blind Melon, pushing ‘em further and further toward the back of the bookshelf in favor of older, more storied bands. Today, I gave the boys another shot to somehow validate all those years I spent obsessing over them, and I couldn’t be happier that I did. Sure, it was traumatizing to watch Shannon Hoon implode, but it was also beautiful to revisit the sweet little riff from “Toes Across The Floor”, re-appreciate the beautiful duet “Mouthful Of Cavities”, and re-laugh at Chris Farley dressed up as the Bee Girl. Blind Melon weren’t the Beatles, but they sure as hell were my favorite band when I was sixteen. And for the first time in years, I’m extremely proud to admit it.

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