In 1990, I was 16 years old, and music was the center of my universe. For the most part, music was a way for me to have fun, to escape, to live vicariously through someone else. Up until a few years earlier, when Living Colour’s ‘Vivid’ introduced me to “music with a message,” I never thought too deeply about music. I just went with it. That all changed with the release of ‘Ritual De Lo Habitual.’
On August 21st, 1990, I went to the local mall to get my copy of the disc. After my purchase, I walked outside and sat on the top step that led down to the parking lot outside one of the department stores. I opened the box, then the case, and I pulled out the little “Novena” booklet that included a very poignant passage from singer Perry Farrell, as well as the lyrics of the songs on the record. I have no idea how much time went by, but as I finished reading the booklet, I immediately started reading it over again. I fell in love with the record before even hearing it.
Upon listening to it when I got home, it literally changed me. For the very first time, I thought of music as art, where before, I thought of art as only something you could hang on a wall. Perry’s words painted a picture of a world I could only dream of. His voice transported me directly to Los Angeles, to a world that was just as frightening as it was beautiful. Stephen Perkins’ drumming is just unparalleled, swinging wildly from tribal, to metal, to the tightest groove imaginable. Eric Avery’s bass tone/sound is as unique as it gets, navigating some of the tracks like a beacon in the night. And where do I even begin with Dave Navarro’s guitar heroics? I can only tell you to listen closely to the soloing in “Three Days,” and if you aren’t moved by what you hear, you may not be among the living. The more I listened to this record, the more I wanted to discover who I really was as a person. It made me want to expand my musical horizons even more, because I thought if there was something this astonishing out there, what else is out there that I am missing?
I have an amazing memory of having this record be the first I played in my crappy hand-me-down car, right after I got my driver’s license. I saved up enough money to have a CD player installed in it, which was not very common back then. I pulled out of the installation shop, popped the disc in, rolled the windows down, and just as I got to a red light, Dave’s guitar kicked in on “Stop!,” Perry screamed his signature “Here we go!,” and the mortified look on the elderly couple’s faces in the car next to me is stuck in my brain forever. I was so proud at that moment. Now at 41, I get the EXACT same feeling when I hear that intro, and I still completely lose myself in the record 25 years later.