It’s hard to argue that Alice in Chains’ second studio album, Dirt, not their biggest feature-length release. The 1992 LP contained some of the band’s best songs, from the metal glory of “Them Bones” to the iconic bass line on “Would?”. The band combined tracks exploring the depravity of heavy drug addiction with other serious issues.
However, one song that has always stood out on Dirt is “Rooster”, a track that was released as the fourth single from the album. It’s a slower tempo than the rest of the album, but “Rooster” contains some of the band’s best clean guitar tones and, of course, some of Lane Staley’s best vocals.
The emotional song was written by Alice in Chains guitarist and vocalist Jerry Cantrell about his father who served in the Vietnam War, and Cantrell once explained that “Rooster” was his father’s nickname. The name was given to Jerry Cantrell Sr. by his own father as a reference to his strong personality and spiky hair.
Cantrell Jr. wrote the song while staying at Chris Cornell’s home in Seattle in early 1991 with Cornell’s then-wife, Alice in Chains manager Susan Silver. Alone at night, Cantrell couldn’t help but think of his father and the brutal psychological damage inflicted on him by the war.
He spoke about the origin of the song and its healing effect in the liner notes. Music Bank box set. “This was the beginning of a healing process between my father and me from all the damage that Vietnam had done,” he said. “That was all my perception of his experience there.”
Like many Vietnam War servicemen, Cantrell’s father was reluctant to discuss his own experience. So Cantrell was surprised when he eventually took part in a 45-minute interview to talk about his time in the famous conflict. “I was amazed that he did it. He was totally cool, totally laid back, taking it all in and having a good time,” Cantrell said. Louder sound. “It even brought him to tears. This was beautiful.”
Naturally, the younger Cantrell wanted his father to understand what the song meant to him, and he was lucky enough to play it live for him just once, when Alice in Chains opened for Iggy Pop. Cantrell recalls his father standing at the end of the room, “a fat Oklahoma man[withhisbiggrayStetsonandhiscowboyboots”[withhisbiggreyStetsonandhiscowboyboots”[всвоембольшомсеромстетсонеиковбойскихсапогах»[withhisbiggreyStetsonandhiscowboyboots”
“I will never forget it,” Cantrell recalled in 1992, “he heard all the words and stuff. “I remember when we played he was standing at the soundboard and I could see him and at the end he took off his hat and just held it up in the air. And he cried all the time. This song means a lot to me. A lot of.”
Then, in 2006, Cantell further explained that “Rooster” allowed him to heal without even actively seeking it, which highlighted to him the power that music can play in a person’s life. He said Team Rock: “In Rooster, I tried to think about his side of it – what he might have gone through. Actually, I didn’t intend to do any of that; it just kind of came out. But the great thing about music is that sometimes it can go deeper than ever when talking to someone. It’s more like a forum where you can dig deeper.”