Remembering Scott Weiland/My Top Ten Scott Weiland Songs
When I read the news of Scott Weiland’s death on the morning of Friday, December 3rd I felt a sense of sadness, like another piece of my youth had just been chipped away.
I’ll leave that to those who have been most affected like Mary Forsbert Weiland, Weiland’s ex-wife and the mother of his two children, who wrote an emotionally powerful letter this week which you can read here. I am, however, going to remember Weiland for what he gave to his fans, which is his music.
I always felt Weiland was unfairly compared to Eddie Vedder when his band Stone Temple Pilots hit the scene in 1992. As the years went on, however, they developed a sound of their own thanks to beautifully crafted songs filled with ear-pleasing harmonies and infectious hooks that were tailor-made for rock radio.
The songs also had, complimented with big, thick guitar riffs and massive drum beats that could reach all the way to the back of an arena. And, yes, there was Scott Weiland, who quickly stood out and become maybe the only real front-man in a decade where the idea of a front-man was passé.
Weiland had none of the corny characteristics of the 80s front-man, however. He, instead, took his cues from the great glam rock singers of the 70s like David Bowie, Freddie Mercury and Marc Bolan of T-Rex and carved out his own on-stage presence. He slithered across the stage with high energy, always dressed in flashy “rock star” outfits that his idols would be proud of.
As if having a massively successful career with one band wasn’t enough, Weiland captured lightning in a bottle one more time with Velvet Revolver at the turn of the decade. Featuring former Guns N’ Roses members Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum Velvet Revolver released two albums before disbanding but not before making a huge impact.
Velvet Revolver’s debut album ‘Contraband’, released in 2004, was one of the best rock albums of the early 2000s and Weiland played a big part in its success. Sorum recently told Sirius/XMs Matt Pinfield that, after auditioning several singers, Weiland came in and made an immediate impact.
“Scott came in and really put the icing on the cake and, boom, we were off,” said Sorum. “He grabbed 13 of our riffs….Thirteen or 14 of the riffs and it was just riffs you gotta remember. Guitar stuff with grooves and he came back with ‘Slither’, and ‘Fall To Pieces’, ‘Big Machine’, and ‘Dirty Little Thing’ within, like, two weeks and we went, ‘Oh my God we got a record!’
On my way home from work the day of Weiland’s death I decided to create a playlist of all of my favorite Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver songs to listen to in the car. That’s when I realized just how many amazing songs Weiland has sang on and written over the last two-plus decades. I counted 30 all together.
I’ve decided to challenge myself and pare that list of 30 down to 10 and then rank them. Not an easy task but well worth the time put in:
"Cinnamon" - Stone Temple Pilots (2010)
This infectious pop-rock gem is from the highly underrated self-titled STP reunion album in 2010, the last ever recorded with Weiland on vocals. Although it didn’t have the commercial impact of previous STP albums, it’s packed with songs as good as this one.
"Set Me Free" - Velvet Revolver (2003)
“Set Me Free” features a killer riff by Slash and high-energy vocals by Weiland as he transitions from brooding into Hulk-like aggression, just the right fit for the soundtrack to the 2003 film "The Hulk".
"Lady Picture Show" - Stone Temple Pilots (1996)
Weiland once stated that the 1996 Stone Temple Pilots album 'Tiny Music... Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop' was the most creative STP album of all and the one he favored most. This is a great example of the pop side of STP which helped cross the band over into the mainstream.
"Trippin' On A Hole In A Paper Heart" - Stone Temple Pilots (1996)
Here’s another rock radio-friendly tune from the 'Tiny Music..." album. It's got the in-your-face attitude of earlier STP songs with a nice touch of that creative experimentation heard throughout the album.
"Sour Girl" - Stone Temple Pilots (1999)
With the 90s coming to a close, the Stone Temple Pilots were faced with the challenge of remaining relevant in a changing rock scene. This song proved they could live up to that challenge.
I still vividly remember playing this song when I arrived at i95 back in 1999-2000. I admittedly grew tired of some of the new singles that I played nightly back then but this one? No way. I still love listening to this song.
"Fall To Pieces" - Velvet Revolver (2004)
This was the first song I listened to after hearing the news of Weiland's passing.
Just as "Set Me Free" best captured the hard and heavy side of Velvet Revolver, "Fall To Pieces" is the band's softer side at its best and the video strikes a chord more now than ever. In it, Weiland plays himself struggling to maintain a relationship with his wife (who appears in the video as herself) before eventually overdosing. It’s a brutally honest performance by Weiland and one that turned out to be sadly prophetic.
"Sex Type Thing" - Stone Temple Pilots (1992)
Back in 1992 I watched Saturday Night Live religiously. In between those classic Chris Farley, Adam Sandler and Phil Hartman sketches I would switch over to MTV for "Headbanger's Ball" during a commercial break. That’s when I first heard this song and loved it immediately.
It has that adrenaline-pumping beat with aggression all over the vocals. What I wondered at the time, however, was: Is this band capable of more than just one great song? Then came the release of song #1 on this list.
"Vasoline" - Stone Temple Pilots (1994)
What sophomore jinx? The Stone Temple Pilots followed their hugely-successful debut album 'Core' with 1994's 'Purple'. They not only proved they could beat the sophomore jinx; they beat it into submission and gave it a few more kicks for good measure. 'Vasoline' is one of three huge singles that led the album to the promise land.
"Interstate Love Song" - Stone Temple Pilots (1994)
Here's another huge single off of the Stone Temple Pilots second album 'Purple'. This one starts off with an elegant guitar fade-in, then thrusting into the meat and bones of an alt-rock/grunge classic with a heavy and infectious groove.
Weiland seemed to be at his best with riffs like this. It was like throwing a softball to Babe Ruth. Just sit back and watch him nail it out of the park every time.
"Plush" - Stone Temple Pilots (1992)
"Plush" is a grunge rock classic, a 10 out of 10 and the defining moment in Weiland's career.
As it turned out, people talked about the lyrics almost as much as the sound of the song when it was released to radio and MTV. It really is the 90s equivalent of Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight".
Weiland's lyrics "Where ya going with that mask I found? And I feel, and I feel When the dogs begin to smell her Will she smell alone?" left people intrigued and wanting to know more. Keep in mind, this was 1992. There was no "Google" to go to and the internet was still years away. The mystique of the song, as a result, had legs and it created a buzz among rock fans. The sound of the song has stood the test of time.