“Would?” by Alice in Chains
Alice in Chains’ “Would?” was written in memory of Andrew Wood (1966-1990). Mr. Wood was himself a prominent-professional musician and the personal friend of Jerry Cantrell, one of the leaders of Alice in Chains.
But more specifically to the context of the track, Andrew died of a drug overdose. And the lyrics utilized in the song, albeit their ambiguity, seem to insinuate that the singer is taking on the role of a drug addict (i.e. Andrew Wood) himself. In fact they have been explained as being relayed from the perspective of someone who has gone to drug rehab and has now come out.
Basically, the idea they point to is that the user is partaking in such a practice as a means of escape. However, by engaging in such a dangerous act to achieve this goal, he is putting his life at risk – and is well aware of such. Thus a good portion of the lyrics are dedicated to him questioning if he is in fact tempting fate. Indeed “Would?” is a very inquisitive, introspective track, as the title suggests. And the overall insinuation is that, in spite of recognizing this danger (i.e. addiction), the narrator indeed “goes too far” in his quest to “get home”.
So all things considered, this song does a very-good job of encapsulating the trials and tribulations of a drug addict. The narrator is on a trip that he recognizes may very well be his last. But at the same time he can’t help but to keep indulging in order to reach a specific destination which in the end, as usual, eludes him.
And overall, being that it is indeed somewhat of a eulogy, there is a sense of sadness, as the singer does not appear as a harmful or bad person at all. And this effect was likely intentional, as Alice in Chains wanted to put forth a narrative “directed towards people who pass judgement”. As such, its subject can be viewed as someone who has “made a big mistake” by trying to realize fulfillment in life via a practice which does not yield such results.
Facts about “Would?”
Andrew Wood was best known as the lead singer of a band he helped form called Mother Love Bone.
And besides Jerry Cantrell, the sole writer of “Would?”, Chris Cornell (1964-2017), the lead singer of Soundgarden, also wrote a couple of songs in his memory.
“Would?” was produced by Alice in Chains. And the track came out, via Columbia Records, on 7 June 1992.
It originally appeared on the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack for the movie “Singles” (1992), though shortly thereafter it was also featured on Alice in Chains’ second album, “Dirt” (1992).
And an acoustic rendition of “Would?” also made the playlist of Alice in Chains’ “MTV Unplugged” album in 1996.
The music video to “Would?” was directed by both Josh Taft and Cameron Crowe. It earned the honor of being recognized as the Best Video from a Film at the 1993 edition of the MTV Video Music Awards.
And the song charted on the UK Singles Chart and Billboard’s Mainstream Rock listings, as well appearing on the European Hot 100 Singles and on music charts in a few other countries.