In early 1994, Alice in Chains released Jar of Flies, an EP that debuted at #1 on the Billboard Charts, the first EP to do so, and the first album by Alice in Chains to do so. The first single on album to be released was "No Excuses".
When some people write about music, they talk about things like chord changes and harmonies. I am not technically inclined with music, and when I think about music, I think of times, attitudes, and memories. As a newly minted alternative fan in my young teens, I sharply dichotomized the world into "alternative" and "mainstream". I wonder if the concept of "alternative" music makes any sense to anyone under the age of 25: in the days of instantaneous access to any style of genre of music on the internet, how jealously we guarded our position as those privy to the elite secrets of grunge. Alice in Chains, along with Soundgarden, was considered to be the second string of grunge, behind the powerhouses that were Nirvana and Pearl Jam. It wasn't until later that I actually begin to listen to them. And perhaps not until much later that I truly paid attention.
"No Excuses" is a soft song. The lyrics are about a stormy relationship, (I have read between the two leaders of Alice in Chains, Jerry Cantrell and the late Layne Staley), with a series of simple metaphors and similes seeming to encourage the idea of going forward despite weariness and troubles.
Yeah it's fine
We'll walk down the line
Leave our rain
A cold trade for warm sunshine.
It isn't the most ornate or poetic metaphor, but it comes across as very sincere in the song.
And this is where we get back to the entire discussion of "alternative music", and how important it was. This song is only "alternative" in that its honesty and rawness would not have been very radio compatible during the raddest years of the 1980s. But listening to it now, I can see beyond where it fit in with the trends of its times. Because this song could have been a blues song in the 1950s, a country song in the 1960s, a rock song in the 1970s, or a power ballad in the 1980s. It just happened that this song came about in the 1990s, when a bit of rawness and vulnerability were more acceptable to listening audiences than at other times.