No Excuses

Album: Jar of Flies (1994)

Songfacts®:

  • This is about lead singer Layne Staley's battle to overcome his heroin addiction. The band became inactive 2 years later when his drug problems became too troublesome. Staley died of a drug overdose in 2002.
  • Jar of Flies was the first EP (extended play, like an LP except shorter) to ever top the Billboard charts. It debuted at #1.
  • Alice in Chains was the third band from the Seattle grunge scene to top the charts. Pearl Jam and Nirvana were the others.
  • This was not released as a single, but got a lot of airplay before the EP was released.
  • The title of the EP was taken from a high school science project done by guitarist Jerry Cantrell.

Comments: 24

  • Cc from CtJerry wrote this song and mostly I believe it was about his relationship with Layne. Anyone who has lost a brother to addiction might understand where Jerry was coming from. It was obvious Layne was slipping away and obviously Jerry wanted his best friend back. Was this song about Heroin? Not entirely, I think it was more about friendship . It sucks when you see someone you love is losing the battle of addiction and there isnt s--t you can do about it.. and not every AIC song is about Heroin... unfortunately when you suffer from addiction and you are losing your battle you write about it. Layne never glorified drugs.It was just the opposite, he hated his addiction and tried rehab many times. It's a shame, he helped create some awesome music!! one of the greatest singers ever in my opinion..
  • Heather from BfeWhen talking about the top Seattle bands, there were actually 4. You can't forget about Soundgarden!!! They were also the first Seattle act to sign with a major label, that in turn made Kurt want to sign. And SG was together years before PJ formed, after the death of Mother Love Bone singer, Andy Wood. Chris Cornell also included Eddie V in on the Andy W. tribute album, Temple of the Dog, specifically the Hunger Strike song.
  • Gina from Beaufort, Sccantrell wrote these lyrics. its about his relationship with staley
  • Jimmy from Hastings, New ZealandAIC were not manufactured like most of these crappy wimpy emo bands who cry thru their songs and piss in their pants cos life is so bad.
    AIC are the real deal.
  • Brian from Boston, MaWait, this song is about heroin? Really wow such a departure from most of Alice in Chains' songs.I would never have guessed
  • Charlie from Las Vegas, Nvthis song also makes me think of my friend Nick.
  • Brian from Boston, MaWait wait don't tell me.I have not read any of the song facts at the top of this page yet but I am going to try to guess the meaning of this song.All right let me think um is it about heroin? or maybe someone being addicted to heroin,or maybe someone that died of an overdose of heroin? I am just taking a wild guess.O.K. O.K we get it Alice In Chains you did heroin.Try writing about something else once in a while.
  • Charlie from Las Vegas, Nvfor some reason, back before I even knew the name of this song, I KNEW I LOVED IT. Also, this song kept playing over and over in my head when i was taking my Geometry and Spanish finals on my last day of freshman year of high school.
  • Mike from Matawan, Nj"Don't Follow" is probably the best song off of 'Jar of Flies'. Better lyrics...a lot mellower, but taken as a whole, better than the others.
  • Andrew from Lanoka Harbor, Njthis song was written by cantrell and layne and its about their friendship and the tole layne's drug addiction takes on his friends and the band. when layne died, the saddest part was that he said he had no friends left, not even sean, mike, or jerry. but the last verse is so beautiful because i can listen to it and realize that no matter what, jerry and the band cared about him. "you my friend, i will defend, and if we change, well i love you anyway."
  • Talha from Lahore, Pakistani think this song has such textured layers 2 it, the sound of the opening stumming with the groovy base behind it,makes u see the more softer,mature side of the band,also with songs like NUTSHELL, makes u wonder there's something really deep and meaningful where they're coming from.Layne once said : .....I WROTE SONGS ABOUT DRUGS,WHY ARE PEOPLE STILL USING THEM?.........
  • Erin from Tulsa, OkIt's alright
    There comes a time
    Got no patience to search
    For peace of mind
    Layin' low
    Want to take it slow
    No more hiding or
    Disguising truths I've sold

    This clearly says that he wants to quit his addiction but he doesnt have enough patience to want it, i guess. and there would be no reason to keep hiding it.
  • Erin from Tulsa, OkI'd say this songs ties Down In A Hole with my favorite song ever written. Rooster makes a close third.
  • Joseph from Canton, Gayeah they dont get the credit they deserve. they were so brilliant. with jerry's (along with layne) songwriting capabilities and laynes vocals they should have been way bigger than they were. this is one of my favs. but how can you pick one song from this group? layne was one of the greatest frontmen of all time. may he rest in peace
  • Jeremy from Lafayette, LaMy favorite AIC song. For sure. But everything they did make, Nutshell, Angry Chair, Rooster, Man in the Box, Would, Heaven Beside You, and many more, got me thinking, "Wow, this is one of my very, very favorite bands. Cantrell and Staley: 2 of the greatest musicians out there. May Layne rest in peace.
  • Joey from Gallipolis, Oki think cantrell is one of the best sogwriters there is
  • Kevin from Portland , OrNo excuses was written by Cantrell. I think he wrote it about Layne. This was the era when Layne's addiction took over his life. Cancelled tours, rumors, backlash all focussed around Staley. I think this song is describing Cantrell's feelings about Staley and their friendship. "Drained and blue, I bleed for you . . . you're drowning in it too". He's telling Lane how frustrated he is covering his ass. Lane probably doesn't care much at this point what the fans/media think--maybe he thinks it's a joke? Cantrell recognizes the severity of Layne's problems and "you're drowning in it too" is like telling him to wake up!! Even though he's frustrated with all the grief Layne's caused the band, he finishes with "You're my friend, I will defend . . . " He's telling Layne he will always stand by his side. I can't imagine how much crap the band dealt with over Staley's addiction. I've read Staley would get clean, then come to the studio (out of nowhere) smacked out of his head--much to the chagrin of his band mates. I'm sure they still wonder what could have been.
  • Alec from Winnipeg, CanadaA main part of this song is obviously about the friendship and love between Jerry Cantrell and Layne Staley, in the unplugged you can see when he sings the line "You my friend
    I will defend
    And if we change, Well I
    Love you anyway"
    you can see Jerry Cantrell giving Layne Staley a loving glare.
  • Mike from St.catharines, CanadaAnother Favorite AIC song for me. Particularly the line "Your my friend, I will defend...And if we change well I love you anyways" which has to be one of my most relatable lines from a song. This song really is from the heart and can be seen in many ways.
  • Amzng from Delhi, IndiaSad to see that great music comes from a lot of pain;...it eventually consumed Layne. His voice is haunting.
  • Andrew from Harrisburg, Pathis is my favorite alice in chains song, the lyrics are from the heart just like all of the songs and it is amazing. alice in chains i feel gets lost in the shuffle of grunge bands too much. everyone talks of nirvana and pearl jam but alice in chains is every bit as talented in my opinion
  • Ben from Clemmons, Ndthere was a huge dispute whether the album would be released as an EP or an LP because it only contains 7 tracks. if you count the hits on the album i would count them all because they all took so much time and patience that they didnt want to write anymore songs for the album. but i dont understand the connection between the title of the album and the meaning of the album. because my impressin of the alnum was ' the life of a rockstar'. but the name of the title came from jerry cantrells high school biology project and is well talked about in the AIC music bank disk and jerry says its about over population in a nutshell( no pun intended)
  • Kevin from A Town, NjYes, I Stay Away is the other "hit" from the album, not as big of a hit as No Excuses, but a hit none the less.
  • Brian from Paoli, InI don't think this was the only 'hit' from the album, the video to "I Stay Away" has the little clay-mation Alice In Chains guys in it. And I have seen it numerous times.

    Anyways, "No Excuses" is such an amazingly beautiful song, if you read the lyrics you can pick up on the drug related parts("hands are bruised from breakin rocks all day").
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Chris Robinson of The Black CrowesSongwriter Interviews

"Great songwriters don't necessarily have hit songs," says Chris. He's written a bunch, but his fans are more interested in the intricate jams.

Eric BurdonSongwriter Interviews

The renown rock singer talks about "The House of the Rising Sun" and "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood."

Which Songs are About Drugs?Fact or Fiction

"25 or 6 to 4" to "Semi-Charmed Life" - see if you can spot the songs that are really about drugs.

Wedding Bell BluesSong Writing

When a song describes a wedding, it's rarely something to celebrate - with one big exception.

Gary Louris of The JayhawksSongwriter Interviews

The Jayhawks' song "Big Star" has special meaning to Gary, who explains how longevity and inspiration have trumped adulation.

DevoSongwriter Interviews

Devo founders Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale take us into their world of subversive performance art. They may be right about the De-Evoloution thing.