These Haunting, Isolated Layne Staley ‘Rooster’ Vocals Further Prove He Was One of the Best Singers of All Time

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This year marks the 30th anniversary of Alice In Chains‘ seminal second full length, Dirt. We promise not to ramble on and on about how god damn perfect of a record it is. You already know that. But, the band has been on our mind a lot lately due to the cool as hell 30th anniversary celebration that the band’s Instagram account has been running as part of their #Dirt30 marketing campaign.

Almost daily, the band is posting “forgotten” or never shared before stories and content from the Dirt album cycle, including this incredible behind-the-scenes video of the making of ‘Them Bones’ amongst other gems:

 

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When the band recently reminisced about ‘Rooster,’ on the Instagram, something caught our eyes that we had somehow overlooked in the past: Jerry Cantrell was actually living with Chris Cornell when he wrote it. Wild. Some quick Googling shed some more light. Per a 2020 interview with Gibson (and transcribed per Ultimate Guitar), Jerry had this to say about the song writing experience & motivation behind the track:

“I remember writing ‘Rooster,’ I was staying over at [Chris] Cornell’s place, had a little guest room at the place out in West Seattle – a tiny little room, it just had room for like a little bed, it was kind of like a converted closet, I think. And I remember I stayed up all night – I may even have taken acid or whatever, I’m not sure – I remember staying up all night and writing that song, and I knew I was on to something really cool.” He continued:

“I wanted something kind of washy and watery sounding, kind of Hendrixey almost. I was thinking about my dad; my folks got divorced when I was pretty young, so my dad wasn’t a big part of my teen years, but he was a badass and a hardass; he was an army sergeant, but I didn’t see a whole lot of him. So when my mother had passed, he was my only parent left, and as I became a man, I started realizing I can’t be mad at him for, like, kid shit. Every kid’s mad at their dad for something.

I started to think about putting myself in his shoes and what he’d been through in his life, multiple tours in ‘Nam – just where he came from, things he had to deal with, and I started asking myself, ‘Would I have done any better? Could I have done any better?’… And I couldn’t say yes, so that was kind of the first thing in me, kind of putting myself in his shoes, trying to take the blame off of him, and trying to make peace, and have a relationship with my dad again.

That was kind of a cool song for a lot of reasons. Personally, it was – I just described it, and then it actually happened, we started to become more pals and buddies and shit, and over the years we’ve grown closer and closer.”

Inspired by the history behind the song, we took to the ‘ol YouTube to listen to it again, and in the process, came across this absolutely gorgeous upload of Layne’s isolated tracks from ‘Rooster.’ If this doesn’t give you chills (or at very least help you win any argument that Layne is one of the best singers to ever to do it), then we don’t know what to tell you.

Listen To The Incredible Isolated Vocals of Layne Staley On Alice In Chains’ ‘Rooster’: