Looking Back on “Jar of Flies”

Sarah Chimenti, Staff Writer

Jar of Flies, released by Alice in Chains in 1994, is one of my favorite albums. The album’s title originated from a science experiment that Jerry Cantrell, lead guitarist in the band, conducted in third grade. Alice in Chains had risen to international fame as a part of the grunge movement of the early 1990s, along with other Seattle bands such as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Nirvana. They achieved success during their era with the albums Facelift which came out in 1990, Dirt (1992), Alice in Chains (1995), as well as the EP Jar of Flies (1994). Alice In Chains picked up on the more temperamental end of ’60s and ’70s rock, which was Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and The Doors—while also mixing the intensity and anger of the Stooges into their sound.

My favorite song from Jar of Flies is “Nutshell,”  written and sung by Layne Staley. This song is about Layne’s battle with addiction. He sings the line “we chase misprinted lies,” referring to magazine articles spreading rumors of his death during a long pause by Alice in Chains. Layne felt like he was trapped by his addiction, hence the title “Nutshell.” This song is well-known for its acoustic instrumentation and electric guitar solo. The lyrics are about loneliness, death, and despair. This song has such a deep meaning behind it. 

The song “Rotten Apple” has different instruments and nice vocals. This song talks about how innocence is now over for them and their confidence is “broken.” This ties into the title “Rotten Apple,” as he’s referring to himself as the rotten apple who is not confident.

What does Jar of Flies mean to me? This album brings me comfort and so many different emotions. Overall Jar of Flies was really successful: According to Wikipedia, “The EP was well received by critics and has been certified triple-platinum by the RIAA, selling 4 million copies worldwide, making Jar of Flies one of the band’s most successful releases.” I really enjoyed this album and believe that it impacted others in the past, affects people now, and will continue to be meaningful to fans in the future.