For the second installment in "Playlist Apocalypse", my playlist to end all playlists, we will discuss "Alive" by P.O.D. When this single exploded onto the scene, I was 17 years old and working in a long-term care facility as a nurses aide. I worked my regular shifts, then I picked up extra hours sitting with an elderly man with dementia who lived in the same facility.
This guy was pretty wealthy and his family paid me in cash. They would often give me an extra $20 for lunch, so I ate well during that year (like I needed that...). It was great to have a little extra tax-free spending money. I really hope the IRS isn't reading this...
Anyway, his dementia stemmed from an inoperable brain tumor. I was the only one who could talk him down when he got freaked out and I was the only one who could restrain him when he couldn't be talked down. He was on steroids and he would have intermittent violent episodes which could get pretty scary. One of the few things that calmed his nerves was watching MTV. I soon found out that it wasn't for the music, but so he could watch Britney Spears, J. Lo, and Christina Aguilera dance...
Every so often, I would have a reprieve from the onslaught of pop torture when the "Alive" video would come on TRL amidst P. Diddy's "Bad Boy for Life", Mandy Moore's "Crush", Britney Spears' "I'm a Slave 4 U", and Sum 41's "Fat Lip" (ok, I didn't mind "Fat Lip", they just played it to death).
This wasn't a bad gig, even with all the throw-away pop music I had to endure. I got to sit in a room and watch music videos all day. Occasionally I would have to carry on an extended conversation with a guy who was no longer verbal. He didn't seem to mind if we just grunted back and forth for 20 minutes. Honestly, I think he just needed some human interaction.
This song was released just prior to September 11th and when tragedy struck that morning, this song instantly took on a whole new meaning for any American who had been watching TRL or listening to alt-rock radio. The positive message of "Alive" was just what America needed. It was just what I needed. You can read more about P.O.D.'s lasting influence in my life, here.
The video for "Alive" was #2 on TVU's “50 Best Music Videos of All Time” list and was one of the most played videos of 2001 on MTV and MTV2, despite being released late in the year. The song was nominated for a Grammy in 2002 for "Best Hard Rock Performance", but was beat out by "Crawling" by Linkin Park", another important band to me during those times. You can read my thoughts on Chester Bennington's tragic suicide, here.
"Alive" was nominated for several other awards. The album, "Satellite" was released on September 11th, 2001 to overwhelmingly positive critical reviews. First week album sales were 133,000 and it stayed in the top 10 for several weeks. It went on to sell over 3 million copies (triple platinum) in the US.
This song delivered a positive, uplifting message that America desperately needed at the time and it had a long lasting effect on me. This is one of the few "nu-metal" (if you want to call it that...) albums that I still listen to on a regular basis. It's great front to back.
To this day, every time I play "Alive", that opening riff hits me like a bus hitting a '66 Dodge Dart (watch the video). When that opening riff is followed by Sonny belting out the first verse, "Every day is a new day. I'm thankful for every breath I take", I can't help but be hit with a tidal wave of emotions. For a millisecond, there's the overwhelming anger, sadness, fear, and helplessness that I felt on 9/11. It’s amazing how a song, even just the opening riff, can instantly take you to another place and time. That momentary rush of emotion is quickly followed by a realization of the all encompassing, redeeming hope of God's love. All is right in the world. Everything is in perspective. I belt out the chorus, whether it comes on in the car or in an Applebee’s. My wife shakes her head and I sing...
I feel so alive
Who am I?
I'm a random guy.