For six months Jeff Hardy disappeared. After the disappointment and scorched earth he left behind, not many care. Of course some rumors spread, of course people want to know what happened to the former superstar after Victory Road. But the fact that he isn’t there, isn’t mentioned, doesn’t show up, also does quite well. After six months, the old familiar music of Jeff Hardy sounds at TNA, the crowd screams and claps, one looks forward to the reunion on the one hand, on the other hand, one has not yet forgiven this man for what happened at Victory Road. We know how much in wrestling is staged, contrived and down to good acting talent – and Hardy is one hell of an actor – but this thing is pretty real. Who would have the guts to go in front of a judging audience, in front of the cameras, after letting everyone down – once again – like that? Let’s face it, it wasn’t that clear that Hardy was coming back and it was a risk to have him perform at all, however, he could have been fired immediately and that’s probably what some people were waiting for. A wrestler is an athlete, a star and therefore a damn role model who has to behave accordingly and should not downplay addictive behavior over and over again and show himself so drugged up – even a damn Jeffrey Nero Hardy can’t allow himself to do that – or can he? On his way to the ring he looks contrite and damn alone, for a long time he stands silently in the ring, his eyes lowered, pensive, whistles are raised. Hardy begins with his failure, everyone is speaking badly of him and has every right to do so, he admits to having reached his absolute lowest point. It’s hard to believe that the speechlessness between all the boos and whistles should be completely played, there’s more genuine about it than most might believe. “I can’t expect you to forgive me and give me another chance […] all I can do is ask: Give me one more shot.” In between all the boos, a chant makes itself heard and quickly swells to fill the hall. “One more shot.
Jeff Hardy is loved everywhere and the fans give him the chance he deserves. In the upcoming performances he is celebrated, his way back to life advances to the parade. It is the great purification. Of course, the TNA has to react, turns off short arguments in the backstage, which should show the pros and cons. Some are for Jeff, others clearly against him, the whole thing shifts to the ring, first through promos, some of which go very below the belt and even involve Beth, then through matches. But the champ is back. In two ways, Sting plays an important role here as well. On the one hand, he stands next to Jeff, takes his side, eventually fights with him as a tag team. On the other hand, Sting knows pretty well what must have been going on inside Jeff and what demons he has to fight against. Sting himself suffered from depression, was addicted to alcohol and painkillers. Many wrestlers take steroids to benefit their muscle growth accordingly. Downers to sleep at night after shows, uppers, speed, coke to keep going during the day, Vicodin to forget the pain for moments and feel the brightening effect at least briefly and forget the depression. They drink because the alcohol numbs and it gets you through the drug tests of the promotions. It used to be different. During the Attitude Era, people threw in what they could, but the WWE banned steroids and cocaine, which was fine and safer for many. Eventually they banned marijuana, which pushed many to pills and alcohol. If you’re on the road all year and away from home, away from family, if you have no rest, no break, shuffling between cities and countries, training and then preparing fights, fighting in the evenings to be able to pay your bills, to inspire, to deliver a perfect entertainment show that requires extreme physical commitment in addition to acting talent, you eventually lose yourself. Jeff Hardy is not an isolated case. Even if wrestling has changed a bit, he was on the road too much. For a person who lost his mother too early and is as tightly tied to home as Jeff, this life is grueling. It pushes him to his limits – plus the physical pain. Jeff Hardy is a victim of the WWE, the wrestling world with all its downsides, whose addiction problems were foreseeable from the moment he signed his contract with the promotion. Nevertheless, he is responsible for his addiction and does not deny it himself. Many wrestlers are known to have abused steroids or addictive substances, but Jeff Hardy is the prime example.
The trial finally took place in September 2011, after having been postponed several times since 2009. In addition to possession of narcotics, the defendant was also charged with trafficking. The wrestler is facing a hefty fine, which he escapes through an undisclosed deal. For almost three years he is allowed to travel only when his job requires it, $100,000 fine is paid, he has to undergo therapy and serve a ten-day jail term. That’s the deal that either saves his ass or dooms him for good, because Jeff knows he doesn’t want to go back to jail, but the addiction won’t let him go. The withdrawal he makes, however, he uses, at least gets off the pills. In the following years, one has the impression that the pain becomes his punishment. They numb everything that rages inside him, the fear, the longing, the missing, a little bit also the love, the anger, which is directed against himself in the absence of a tangible enemy, the loneliness – only the demons are fed even more by the pain.
Jeff Hardy retreats, rumored to be Beth playing a big part in it, setting her husband straight and eventually getting him to change. He himself tells years later in an interview that he watched the match himself and was shocked that he had been all the way down and it woke him up. That he himself had not been able to wrestle anymore is a shock to him and the healing impact on the hard ground of addiction reality. During this time he fights in TNA, completes extreme matches, which flay the poor body even more, he jumps, he falls from great heights, he is beaten bloody and lands in thumbtacks. In comparison, the WWE is an absolutely harmless kindergarten. But Hardy pulls it off, bringing Willow the Wisp into the ring, calling himself – even before that – Charismatic Enigma, Brother Nero and more. They’re a little more creative than WWE, giving the wrestler a little more artistic freedom. In 2015 he becomes a father for the second time to an adorable daughter, the proud parents announce the birth of Nera Quinn with “Then we were four” and a heartwarming picture where the big sister curiously eyes the infant in the arms of the father, who kisses his daughter on the forehead. An image full of love, peace and tranquility, a moment that one would like for Hardy to capture forever as a time warp, because in that very brief moment his demons seem to be silent. Years later, Jeff is able to get a contract with the WWE again and experiences a brilliant comeback together with his brother Matt, who in the meantime has collected addiction experiences himself. Both give everything, are celebrated, there are memorable moments, such as a tag team match in which Jeff has a tooth knocked out. He fights on undeterred, after making it clear to the referee that he should collect the tooth, and proudly shows off the gap in his tooth after the victory. A small laugh is provided by the footage at the doctor’s office, which is later released by WWE. Hardy talks the whole time until the doctor asks him, “Why are you talking when I’m about to examine your mouth?”. The joy doesn’t last long, Jeff crashes his motorcross bike and is out for months as he breaks his tibia. Matt meanwhile leaves the WWE, Jeff extends later, but has problems with his leg since the crash. A shoulder injury follows shortly after, putting him out of action again for some time. When he returns, the fans are missing, it’s the Corona year. Hardy seems grateful and humbled, not unhappy, and is the only wrestler in WWE to make a scene in front of the set-up screens and interact with the fans as if they were sitting in the arena. He was born for this show – until his last match. Fans are disappointed to see him face his addiction again, this time it’s alcohol, as Hardy is arrested again in 2018 and 2019. Once he is caught drinking alcohol in public in the morning – in North Carolina it is not the time that bothers, but the public. The second time, he drunkenly crashes his car into a guardrail. What follows is a withdrawal and a bitter family dispute between the brothers’ wives, some of which they settle on Twitter, apparently curbed at some point by the brothers, because the dirty laundry they started is left lying around. 2020 there is a barfight between Sheamus and Hardy, again and again alcoholism is mentioned, Hardy has to stand in the ring, in front of him various alcohol, a glass – apparently filled with champagne – in his hand. He does not drink. Later, a fight in a bar is suggested to him. Fans are dismayed and enraged, Hardy loves the idea and goes through with it. He wants to give courage and show that you can beat your addiction. Jeff Hardy exists to inspire. And then the waiting begins. Everyone knows Hardy’s entrance song “No more words” will be back, it’s contractual, but when? Everyone is waiting for Hardy to finally get another title shot, but when? Hardy is 43 years old, his body battered, not only the knee, the shoulder, especially the back, on which he now lands for more than half of his life, gives him problems, he seems to feel the injuries and the efforts of the last 20 years. Eventually it’s going to end, and it probably won’t be too much longer. Hardy will get his song when the fans are allowed back into the halls – which will be as early as Wrestlemania in April 2021 – he’ll get one last big storyline, a title and go – I suspect. The golden donkey must once again draw ratings, it is not good for the WWE, much criticism from the fans, boring stories, no esprit. Stars migrate to the competitor AEW, maybe there will be a revival of the Hardy brothers, but will Jeff survive?
However, the 2010s are also heavily influenced by art. Hardy, who draws every day anyway, throws himself into his art even more. The lawn in the front yard is trimmed according to his ideas, he cuts the grass in different lengths and shows the result by means of drone footage. “Obsolete” can be read there at one point, framed by the Hardy faces that are a trademark. There are man-sized figures of two dachshunds on the lot, reminders of faithful companions, and even though they are in light comic style, you immediately recognize the artist. The facepaints and canvases represent what he sees in his head, Hardy states. In many cases, the faces – mostly demons to me, sometimes Hardy, Beth and other characters are clearly recognizable – are reminiscent of woodcuts, such as Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and the Emmaus disciples. In addition to painting, music is also becoming increasingly important in his life. Already in the early 2000s, Jeff had bought an old trailer from his father and converted it into a recording studio; he also taught himself to play the guitar. While he tried his hand at country, emulating his father, he soon realized that it wasn’t up to his standards. Yet there are great recordings, most notably on some episodes of the Hardyshow, on which he pulls off this genre quite well. Jeff meets Junior Merrill and the band Burnside6, pretty metal firecrackers at the time. Burnside6 just barely made it to a record, which is impossible to get. At first they make music together with some band members and longtime friend Shannon Moore and jam their way through the nights. Moore, however, then wants to focus more on his wrestling career. Brother Matt doesn’t think much of Jeff’s style and calls it “alternative alternative”, which hurts the little brother because he doesn’t feel taken seriously and Matt’s opinion carries great weight for him. Already in these years Jeff starts to write his own songs and numerous “emoetry” (a combination of “emotion” and “poetry”, as Jeff calls his poems) is turned into song lyrics. But it takes ten years until a record emerges from it.
And this is where it starts. Jeff Hardy, as an artist, makes just about every mistake an artist can make, especially in the 2010s. Sure, you know the wrestler, you know he’s a bit peculiar, different, an artist, painter, spray painter, poet, musician, but we all have hobbies, after all Jeff is also a very good actor and creative mind, can ingeniously disguise his voice and portray other people, creates confused characters, for example Itchweeed. Also, when clean, he has a wonderful voice and clear enunciation, so he could be a radio host or read in audio books. If I were his daughter and he read to me at night before bed, I would try to stay awake all night so he never stops reading and that voice never goes away. But what good is it if you can do something and no one takes notice? Not much. I’ve known Jeff Hardy since 1996, I’ve known that the man has a couple of CDs out since November 2020, I don’t know his band and have no idea about his solo project. By a stupid coincidence I find out that there are recordings, digital, not even physical, and since I’m packing moving boxes, it’s good to have on the side. When I hear the first song, I take a deep breath. On the second, I think to myself, well, aha. At the third I open my eyes wide and admire Hardy for his damn courage to press something like that on a record. Long story short: For four months I listened to nothing but Jeff Hardy’s music, watched recordings of concerts, followed his Instagram videos, had long discussions about him. There was exactly one song at the beginning that I both loved and immediately recognized after listening to it for the first time: “Talent.” But we’re still just talking about an almost unforgivable mistake Hardy made, and we don’t want to prejudge the review of the silver discs. There is no working website, there is no complete and correct discography anywhere – even though I’m working doggedly to at least feed Discogs with it -, it’s difficult to impossible to buy the records, you get a copy with a lot of luck via detours, the things are differently expensive, for Germany exorbitant customs and shipping costs are added, there is neither on Amazon nor on Spotify a complete artist profile that contains all available tracks – neither for Jeff Hardy nor for his band PeroxWhy?Gen. Information about label, contributors, musicians, songwriters and more has to be scraped together very laboriously, often the information is not correct or not complete, sometimes contradictory. On Spotify, there are three different profiles that you would simply have to link, none of them have a short band or artist info. Social media accounts exist, but they are so poorly maintained that they have no effect. With 1.3 million followers on Instagram, they don’t even upload a flyer or a short video announcing the concerts in mid-March 2021. The crazy thing: Jeff created videos announcing the four dates, but they weren’t uploaded to his profiles. Why? After all, a few days later puts short blurred cell phone videos on Instagram, for which one must praise him yes times. Even if the good man doesn’t think much of such things, he’s doing himself harm. Art has to be heard and seen, it has to be brought to the outside world and made tangible. You stand by what you create and it’s a shame that Jeff is always just the wrestler who creates art on the side – I’ll come back to this later. Jeff Hardy is so much more – and I’ll even go so far as to say that he invented his own style with his painting and his music, Hardyism. So get that out into the world, outside of wrestling, realize what talents you have and what and who you can reach with them, Jeff!
In 2012, an EP with nine songs is released under the title Similar Creatures. There is no information about it, what you find is far apart. Label, release date and even the contributors are unclear. To all appearances it is a collection of various entrance songs Hardy came in under during his TNA days. Problematic is who sings, who wrote the lyrics and the music and when these songs accompanied the wrestler’s entrance, because even here the opinions in the World Wide Web are far apart. The CD itself contains nine songs, the booklet is black, without information, but with 16 different facepaints of the wrestler. If you can find a CD, the only information next to the barcode is “Manufactured by Amazon.com”. Otherwise you can find a label, namely TNAKO, which makes sense insofar as the songs all served as entrances during Hardy’s TNA time and the label probably acted as producer in the person of Dale Oliver and also has the rights to the songs. However, it remains unclear whether TNAKO actually released the CD. Release date between 2011 and 2013, we stiffen times on 2012, earlier in no case, since the first song is a remix from exactly this year. “Modest” was once such a catchy song of Hardy, 2004 to 2006 and later again, 2010 to about 2012, here too there are contradictory data. The song is attributed to Hardy or also PeroyWhy?Gen. If you believe the official TNA Music account on YouTube, the last information is even true. According to it, Hardy sings the original version from 2004 and the remix from 2012 himself. The original is a weak electro version that I don’t find particularly exciting even as an opening number, if you listen to the whole song, it’s totally boring. The remix on the other hand is a bit more rocking, has more power, but good is just something else. “Another me” is also said to be penned by him, the recording was made – like all the others – together with Dale Oliver. The song underlined the entrance of the wrestler in 2011. These numbers are always only played, never completely played out, so the beginning must actually really reinbrettern. If you imagine Jeff Hardy, who actually always makes a very agile entrance, the song doesn’t fit. And sorry, but no one listens to the lyrics on this. Did I mention that “Modest” is about humility and the path Hardy has traveled to date? You don’t get it that way. “Another me,” is that where the name comes from? By the way, there is a little more power in the last minute, but the guitars don’t pull it out there either. The song is supposed to describe the new Jeff Hardy, who is grateful for his regained health and the way he is holding behind him. A bit flat, couldn’t they have thrown more oomph into it? 2011 brings the next number from PeroxWhy?Gen, “Resurrected”. For someone who listens to Pearl Jam and Marilyn Manson or made the music of Burnside6, this is bad. Just plain bad. You should never listen to these Entrance songs in their entirety unless they were written for TripleH – because that’s what Motörhead did, and the numbers are awesome. But “Resurrected” actually has a pretty important purpose: One more shot! Hardy asks here for another chance after Victory Road. In this respect the lyrics are important and meaningful. “Similar Creatures” was also available on single – the other songs somehow also or at least still on other samplers. Supposedly the song was the entrance music in 2013. It’s quite nice, has a bit of power, can do something, but good is also something else. It’s boring – and this is already the fourth song! The vocals are the same, always slightly distorted, always consistently soporific. There you want to grab Hardy, like TripleH once did, and give him a resounding slap and scream: Get out of yourself! Let’s leave it at that, “Soul tied in a knot”. The title is already very philosophical. A nice guitar riff comes in quite fast – and then Hardy sings again, you can do it, you can also leave it. But lyrically it becomes good. It’s about the lyrical I wanting to be and see more, stay curious. This is a typical Hardy song, but it only unfolds if you know the lyrics. Would be a very nice poem in itself. “Humanomoly” is a made-up word and tongue twister. A very typical PeroxWhy?Gen number and the first one I really like on the sampler. Nice lyrics that also leave a lot of room for interpretation, in between it gets a bit harder. You can build on that, but it doesn’t make the disc any better. Supposedly the song was never used. “Enshrine” starts with spoken word, you will hear that later from time to time as a stylistic device in songs by Hardy. The verse is a disaster, almost I would like to speak of a cacophony, this only gets better when you have listened to the number three, four times. But what is actually sung about here, who? A love song to the much too early deceased mother? It would fit and makes you sad, when everything is listed that is missed, everyday things like the voice, the personal sounds, the heartbeat. But then it quickly becomes clear, it could also be a declaration of love to the TNA, which did not reject the fallen angel, gave him strength, gave him new inspiration. Once again, the lyrics are leaps and bounds better than the music. “Reptilian” is also an unused entrance song. Once again describes the hard and dark path Hardy has been on. At some point comes a pseudo-heavy instrumental with nice guitar part, but again it lacks – especially bite. But here it becomes clear what the wrestler will always say later: He regrets nothing – and that is probably very important after this way of life. The last number again “Similar Creatures”, but slightly changed. Doesn’t make it any better, though. A difficult disc, too same, too lame, too boring, meaningless. The songs live on memories of matches you might not even have seen, of feelings that only Hardy himself felt. They are too samey, the vocals are mediocre to bad, always this distorted, electronically processed thing you don’t want at all. No song really pulls you along and lets you freak out. This is not the wrestler with his breakneck jumps, with the blatant fights, with the passion and confidence of a monster in the ring. No music to listen to and any effort to get the disc is only worth it if you really have the money to spare and are a big Jeff Hardy fan. Otherwise just listen to it on YouTube, at best rather watch a match, you’ll get more out of it. Because that’s actually what every single song lives from. From Hardy moving into the hall. He appears with new face paint or sometimes without, dances, applauds the fans, strides to the ring, there is atmosphere, there is this excitement and nervousness before the fight, the heated, the tension, the song is there, but it is in the background, it accompanies the entrance rather quietly – exactly then the song works, exactly these first bars are decisive, when they are played, you know who is coming, then the cheering starts, then Jeff Hardy comes, then the song is no longer interesting and nobody listens to the lyrics. And exactly then – and only then – these songs and this disc make sense. But there is a small but: The lyrics are partly really good and you should put more value on them than on the rest in this case. Just check them out, read them and see where Hardy stood in his career at the time of the song.
Rating: 2/5 (Music: 1/5; Lyrics: 3/5)
2013 sees the release of the first mini-album. Plurality of Worlds by Jeff Hardy. Junior Merrill is listed only as “guest starring” and that raises questions. The two have been making music for over ten years, have a band – PeroxWhy?Gen – that has consisted of just the two of them since Shannon Moore left, the songs are written by both of them, Junior is allowed to get rid of an acknowledgement in the booklet that is full of “PWG” or the band logo. So why didn’t they release the record under PeroxWhy?Gen. Possibly it has something to do with the label, TNA Knockout Music, the very TNA-owned label responsible for all of Hardy‘s Entrance songs, which has since been disbanded. The cover is black and silver, the main colors of the album, a picture of Hardy behind the band logo, on which he looks like something between 16 and 24 – but the picture is current for the time, recognizable by the eartunnels (by the way, you can date pictures of Jeff very well by them). As it should be for a nice booklet, the lyrics are printed, but not somehow typed, but handwritten by Hardy including small drawings and artistic elements – everywhere PeroxWhy?Gen is mentioned. You should have a closer look at the drawings, take your time for it, maybe when you listen to the songs to it. There is a lot in it that you don’t see at first sight. Interesting is the year of birth that appears again and again: “1977 – ?” Hardy is clearly aware of his mortality, it almost seems like he’s waiting to be hugged by his mother sometimes, but there’s still Beth and the girls. To get all the suspense out of the way right away: The CD is just as hard to get as the others – but oddly enough, you can hardly get it in digital form. If you do find it, you have to dig deeper into your pocket. There is also an acknowledgement – and it is strange. What do you expect? Of course, Hardy thanks his parents, his wife, his family, a few friends, his comrades-in-arms – you might think, but it’s true, with one exception: Matt Hardy is not mentioned at all. This seems strange in 2013, nowadays there are rumors that the brothers are not so close anymore, but in 2013 it seemed to be different, if you disregard possible differences regarding the abuse of drugs, in which both are in quite little inferior to each other. In a nutshell, the music. At the first listen my toe nails partly curled up a bit, the damning verdict was: The kids got instruments for Christmas and record their songs themselves – and should do that for quite a while in the basement without an audience, even if there is potential there. I give a very good tip to anyone who dares to listen to Hardy’s music: listen to the songs twice, three times, the first time the stuff hardly ever works. Admittedly, I vinyl kid don’t have a CD player anymore and have to fall back on my laptop, which is of course somewhat limited in sound quality, hence headphones for subtleties, that also makes a difference.
The first song “Envelope” makes you think very much of the Bloodhound Gang, the vocals reminded me immediately of Evil Jared. Slow number, does not break out, so pleasing and dahingesungen, dahingespielt, you can do that, but this is more like an intermediate story. The lyrics, however, talk about the Lyrical I – sorry, with Hardy it’s very hard and probably totally wrong to assume it’s not autobiographical – being better now and a letter has helped him a lot. We know that Beth must have clearly told him off so that he would stop using drugs, maybe there was also this letter, which is certainly a bit tattered in a special place today and still radiates love and strength. “Anxious” probably also describes Hardy’s journey through addiction with a very nice message towards the end that we are all anxious at times. The Lyrical I could be both the addiction and a demon that encompasses a bit more, that addiction, the feelings, dancing wildly and pulling the Lyrical I along, crying and making the I cry just as much, scary because it’s always there, dark and unpredictable. Next song, “Reveal,” guitar intro. Man, this is depressing and the lyrics don’t make it any happier. This is exactly about these emotions, hours feel like days, happiness seems to be unreachable far away, every depressive knows this. The turnaround comes only lyrically, there have been words that gave uplift, that pulled out of the darkness. The drawing has something of a grave cross, Hardy in the center, flowers and trees in the background. Honestly, you can’t listen to the song if you’re just a little down, you’re already fighting tears. Moving on. “Every other day” he still likes to sing. Somewhere on Instagram I found a version where he sings a capella pretty emphatically of that very song. The studio version brings some power and speed for the first time. What can I say. The number is good, it pulls you along, you sing along quickly, it’s repetitive, you bob along, you get a boost, now it’s starting, now something’s happening, get up, straighten the crown – or fuck the crown, the main thing is to get going – and get going. You don’t even want to interpret that much anymore: The addiction is overcome, now Hardy is clear and finally experiences what is happening around him, after all, he has missed so much. Missing is a good keyword, because “Apparent” also tells a bit about what you miss when you get hopelessly drunk. Wait a minute, Mr. Hardy, when did you write that lyric? In 2013 it appears on a record and you have a drinking problem in 2018? F***! That fact makes Hardy’s addiction career a little more tragic. To be honest, it hurts a bit to hear that realization and then know he’s right there a few years later. The song is good, describing that routine and when you start thinking about it, you better have another drink. Towards the end it gets musically rough, with a strong chorus singing the chorus. I want to hear this one song live at a big festival with a few thousand people singing this chorus as the music fades away – and I swear it’s goosebumps and tears guaranteed. This is the stuff of unforgettable festival moments! Fast forward, because I’ve got tears in my eyes again. “Indigo.” This is about a lack of self-esteem. Vocally rather weak, he doesn’t get that across. Lyrically, anyone with tarnished self-esteem, eaten away by self-doubt, knows how that feels and that this is exactly the feeling that is described quite well. “Blue Tomorrow” has led to a bit of a discussion. I’m of the opinion that the beginning was clearly taken from an older song, but I have to be taught better and not see it so narrowly. Anyway, it’s good, that’s the main thing. Here the fight is announced to the depressions. Might have been better if it had happened a bit more aggressively, but every depressive knows that this is exactly the mood and power here. At the end there is a (too) short, good instrumental part. “None of a Kind” – we’re back to self-doubt, which must have eaten away at the poor guy for years, maybe his whole life into the 2010s. It’s as if he’s encouraging himself that he’s unique precisely because he’s different, that he’s good the way he is. Honestly, you just want to give Hardy a hug here to tell him and show him exactly that: You’re enough, you’ve always been enough, and you’re totally perfect just the way you are. I’m going out on a limb, but what’s missing here is the mother who simply accepts her son unconditionally and tells him exactly that and lets him feel it. Fathers don’t express that at all, or express it very differently, and that may not have been enough for sensitive Jeff. “Time & Fade” raises the interesting question of who it is addressed to. In any case, Jeff is closing here with someone who is not good for him, who is still on the wrong track and sees no harm in it. Because of the missing acknowledgement in the booklet, the thought of Matt suggests itself, he had so about 2011 / 2012 his known drug problems, that could fit. Furthermore, one could interpret into the booklet drawing, what meaning “12:24 pwmo” has, the 12 is clear, the rest not quite. But could also be directed to childhood friend and longtime companion Shannon Moore, who had to struggle with drug problems for years. The number itself reminds a bit of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but doesn’t break out either. The last song, “Explanation” – is just that. An explanation, the man wants you to listen to him and understand what he has to say. Theoretically, the lyrics could be from 2004 or 2005, asking that people believe him, trust him, use him more in TNA, where he was signed at the time after being kicked out of WWE. But the lyrics similarly fit into 2011, the second half of the year after the disastrous performance at Victory Road.
Phew, the debut album is over. Heavy fare. Musically not a tour de force, Merrill has worked on it, but places himself very much in the background, an accompanying musician, which is a bit of a pity, because he can do considerably more – on the other hand, that is also an art, to take himself back and accompany. It is a depressive album, marking the end of a difficult time, moving to tears. You have to know the lyrics, you have to understand them, you have to feel them – and it helps immensely if you know a bit of Jeff Hardy‘s history and thus the intention behind it. Much of it you can relate to yourself and your life, accept for yourself, it is a sung therapy, partly already a form of life confession. And a little bit you have a guilty conscience, as if you had stolen the diary of the singer and secretly leafed through it and read. After the first time of listening – although I know Hardy’s story – I found the album bad. After the second, very intense listen, it really got me. It’s not just music, just an album, just lyrics written for it. Hardy puts his notes to music, his diary entries, and it moves you to tears. You can feel his despair, his doubts and fears, the courage, the hope, the pleading in it. That’s what this album lives from and that’s why the rating is better:
3,5 / 5 (Music: 2/5; Lyrics: 5/5)
Two years later, that is in 2015, the first album was released, on which the band name is also written: Jeff Hardy & PeroxWhy?Gen – Within the Cygnus Rift. Although the physical CD should be distributed through a certain website, it doesn’t work, as we have already mentioned, the CD is also hard to find. After a long search I finally found one in the USA, expensive and with long shipping time. Also, don’t be confused by the label or the information on the physical CD. Oliver Twist Music apparently doesn’t exist anymore since 2017, at least the Facebook page has been deleted and the last update on the website dates from that year, which can now also only be found as a subdomain. Dale Oliver is said to still be doing the music for Impact Wrestling and active in two bands, but you can hardly find any information about him or the label. There is, however, a digital version of the disc. The title leaves a lot of conjecture. Cygnus is Latin and stands for the swan, the constellation of the same name and for some characters in Greek mythology. In addition, there is a black hole, Cygnus X-1, in the constellation of the swan and it is also the name for a space transporter to the ISS. Let’s briefly go into Greek mythology. Here, the god Zeus takes the form of the swan to bewitch women. In the poet Ovid, Cygnus is also an invulnerable man who played a role in the Trojan War and was murdered by Achilles, whereupon the dead man took the form of a swan with the help of the sea god Neptune (his father). Cygnus is also one of the Stymphal birds, although it is believed that they were not birds but women, who were represented in the temple of Artemis with bird feet. However, another legend from Greek mythology is interesting: the demigod Phaeton. He was the son of the sun god Helios and liked to borrow – as teenagers do – his father’s sun chariot in order to drive it exuberantly across the sky. What happened was what also happens nowadays, the boy lost control of the chariot and the world threatened to burn. This story was readily used to justify black skin color. Phaeton had to be punished, Zeus kills him with a thunderbolt, the body falls into a river and his best friend Kyknos is deeply saddened by the death and has been wandering along the banks of the river ever since – until he was finally placed in the sky in the shape of a swan. Nice stories, many can be paraphrased to Hardy; I strongly suspect that the title has something to do with a crack in the constellation – one can assume that the nature-loving wrestler knows constellations.
The album begins with quite heavy fare. Electronically distorted with spherical sounds in the background, Jeff tells of an old man who still walks the earth and misses nothing more than his deceased wife, with whom he hopes to be reunited after his death. The old man eventually dies, finding no God he had always believed in, but his wife. That’s the story. When you listen to the play, however, you see the film that goes with it: Gilbert Hardy on a porch in a rocking chair, old, haggard, lips pressed together into a thin line, eyebrows drawn together as if in anger, his gaze sad, longing, almost vacant. Missing his sons’ mother, he waits for the day when he can be reunited with her – and Jeff stands a little apart, watching his father and writing these words, taking the listener into this scene, strings briefly kicking in, then crickets chirping, the gaze turned toward the night sky – to the constellation of the swan? I always skip this number, because it really, really hurts. It’s impressive how Hardy captures and narrates this image. Great art! “Submission” is the first real song. Lyrically, the father puts his son in his place and tells him that he has no right to do all the crap to his loved ones and throw away everything he could have – and that he missed out on some things. Musically, the beginning is like a march, the stomping steps of a stern father standing judging in front of his counterpart. More harshness, good guitar, no hookline, but not bad. “Obtuse” is what I like. This really hits the spot, faster number, a bit more aggressive, guitar, bass, drums, in addition you stand sometimes headbanging in the kitchen. A declaration of war on dullness, addiction, all the demons that had taken possession and are now being fought in order not to further hurt the loved ones you had lied to. Could be from the time of rehabilitation and could show a bit of what Beth has endured. In terms of sound, there could be more numbers like this, please – and it shows a bit of the difference between Jeff Hardy solo and PeroxWhy?Gen, because there is no harder stuff on the solo record. What Hardy can do right are love songs. May be because he writes them for the love of his life and you only understand love if you once loved like he loved his Beth. “Presence” is one of those love songs, wonderfully all-encompassing, describing her presence as a cure and realizing at the end that they are words that can never do justice to that love after all. How mercilessly and unconditionally Hardy loves will still be heard in several places. Towards the end this song gets wide, I can’t describe it any other way, it gets bright and loud, would fit in a movie over the final scene when the lovers hold each other in their arms and watch the sunset over the sea standing on a cliff. Trite, perhaps, but simply beautiful. Little tip: If you’re going to propose, this is your song, these are your words! When you hear the song, pick up your phone and text your loved one that you love them when you can’t hold them right now. A dark chapter is touched upon in “Rebelyes”: The house raid in 2009. Hardy asks for forgiveness a bit, sings very calmly about being stubborn, making mistakes, not wanting to be helped, being rebellious and lost for years, having to deal with regret himself – and regret is a nasty demon. Also a quiet number. There is an instrumental part, guitar-heavy, that doesn’t fit in so well, seems strange and weird. After that comes a gloomy number, I find the sound quite good, fitting. “Metalbed” was clearly written when Hardy was in prison – or in memory of it shortly after. Starting with “Locked away in a human hell, the cell” there is a stark opening that makes the harshness palpable, followed by “Missing home on a metal bed, this bed”. Even the really tough guys get soft in jail, the first night is the worst, when it gets quiet, the doors are closed and this hard, cold bed is under you, you miss everything, home, loved ones, a hug, a bit of warmth. At night, when the cell doors close, you are alone with yourself and your demons, then they dance, then it becomes clear where you are, locked up, alone, it’s cold, inside and out – and then you hear the crying. Hardy is emotional and sensitive, it must have been a terrible ten days for him, and certainly there is a whole other emoetry to it. Theoretically, however, one could equate “Metalbed” with the eternally strange hotel beds while the wrestler is on tour 350 days a year – or with life itself, but that would lead too far. A little faster it goes to the point in “Metaphors”. The power does quite well, also fits the lyrics, which clearly opposes the addiction, the demons and says: Hey, I’m no longer weak, you can’t break me anymore. “Scenario” I have so far always referred to the birth of the first daughter, because nothing more stuck with me than: “Day in October, welcome you”. Now that I’ve had a look at the lyrics, I have to admit I was wrong and it’s probably more about the death of the mother. A bit longing almost to enter heaven as well. Either take the number, which has a very lulling melody, as it is and enjoy it, or pay attention to the lyrics and let yourself be taken in by this strange feeling between saying goodbye and longing. After that, however, things continue quite positively. “Obsolete” is a song that Hardy always sings, in the ring, at concerts, somewhere on the street. It is special for the wrestler because it marks a conclusion and a new beginning, away with the old, with everything that has influenced and weakened and here with the new. It’s a bit of a paraphrase of the Phoenix rising from the ashes, a paraphrase of the way out of the addiction that he has now left behind. By the way, the studio version is quite quiet and carrying, almost tame, when Hardy sings the thing otherwise, there is more power in it, more expression, more strength, more emphasis, once he almost shouts the chorus out into the world, to see on his Instagram account. But for all the good, sadness comes right back. “Humansgone” is the song for a funeral – and please, be honest with yourself, you also have tears in your eyes when you hear it. It could be a cello that starts and then Jeff just sings about the death of his mother, this person who never sinned after all, but had to die way too soon because that’s what heaven had always intended for her, that’s how impressed he was with her. Shit, the guy sounds lonely and hurt, and he can convey that so well, sing so intensely, pull the listener into his pain. Several tissues go into it. I hate this number for its emotionality and pain, and at the same time I think it’s one of Hardy‘s best. If it were the last song on the album, it would be a nice arc to “Reflection.” But it isn’t. It continues with “Physicalelse” [sic!] Now you can ask yourself, what was there first, the lyrics, the melody, a distant idea? Thematically again going in the direction: Out of the addiction, out of the low, out of the foreign determination. Vocally with little tricks, because simply sing down is not here. Artistic pauses were incorporated and that’s pretty fun for once. Nevertheless, everything is so carrying and heavy, so slow and sluggish. “Distance”, again a sad ballad, missing, death and illness is never fair – and even though as a theologian I know very well that especially the Catholic Church saw illness as punishment, I don’t support this view. Illness is not fair and here it becomes clear how brutally it intervenes and tears lovers apart – and thus begins the wait for reunion. Briefly, an image flares in my mind: Jeff standing in the darkness, looking up at the stars, waiting for a sign from his mother to greet him – and whispering to her, “We’ll meet again. And in this brief moment, the distance between the two is no longer so insurmountably vast.
Digression. Can you believe that Jeff Hardy is well-read in (ancient) philosophy? There is a quote somewhere that he doesn’t like to read, so one would say he doesn’t pick up heavy fare to begin with. But does he have a grown, comforting, perhaps inspired by pastoral conversations and the consolation attempts after the death of the mother, own idea, which surprisingly coincides with (ancient) philosophy? The thought came up clearly on “Distance”, with just the whole Within the Cygnus Rift album strengthening the suspicion, but also other songs supporting it. Hardy assumes a lot about spirit beings, about a connection between the dead and the living – sure, you might think, what else should a child who misses his mother feel? However, in connection with the title of the album and the possible reference to the constellation of the swan, Plato and finally Plotinus immediately come to mind. To briefly explain: in Plato there is a demiurge, a kind of god who acts as a craftsman and builder of the cosmos. Aristotle calls him the Unmoved Mover. Both assume that he is an exalted being who creates only the best possible; Marcion later goes in the same direction and sees him as the creator and steward of matter and the world, though independent of the good God announced by Christ. Gnostics are negative towards the Demiurge, whom, by the way, they do not even completely reject, and refer to the evil in the world, to the defective creation, which would have to go back to the Demiurge, if he had created everything. This Demiurge, to return to Plato, has assigned to each soul a star and thus a vehicle to explore the cosmos. Another direction assumes that they are extra vehicles that help the souls to go down to the earthly world. This results in a beautiful picture: the human soul of reason (an important concept, because Plato attaches great importance to reason) thus steers the chariot, which is pulled by two horses, which Plato equates with the mind and desire. The charioteer must keep both in check. At another time, Herakleides Pontikos equated the soul with the stars, thus seeing it as a kind of light being that has its fixed place in the starry sky. To shorten the short excursion into philosophy: In the newer theosophy and anthroposophy one uses the term astral body and represents Plato’s idea somewhat simplified. Thereby “astral” is derived from the Latin word for “starlike”, “astralis”. If one compares this philosophy with Hardy’s lyrics and views on the deceased, for example the equation of the mother with a goddess, the deep belief in her as an almost omnipotent existence, the repeatedly mentioned connection between the living and the dead and the communication between both realms, one can speak of a Platonic way of thinking in Hardy’s case – which one would probably not trust so much to a wrestler from North Carolina, but which makes the lyrics all the more interesting. One could examine some of his lyrics for philosophical traces, but this is not a doctoral thesis and the topic would not be accepted, unfortunately.
Back to the album. “Placate” is the last regular song and already quite a board – which then slackens a bit in its hardness, but still has decent power. Lyrically we are back to the old topic, great thoughts and ideas can be found in it and these underpin a bit the digression to Plato. The song ends with “To Placate within the Cygnus rift”. If you equate Placate with a planet, a star located within the Cygnus rift, which in turn could be equated with the black hole in the constellation of the same name, the ultimate longing and goal, the star of the Mother and the hope for a final, ultimate union with her after the end of earthly existence would be represented here. Crass number, which also makes a small bow to the first title, because somehow the father and his two sons want only one thing: back to the beloved, deceased Ruby Moore Hardy. Two EDM remixes of “Distance” and “Presence” follow, even slower, even heavier.
Conclusion? Phew, pretty hard stuff, exhausting, emotional, philosophical, you don’t put this album on and party, you put it on and sit down, be silent, listen, reflect on life and cry a bit – maybe a bit more. There’s philosophy and pain in here, sadness, death, a certain calmness, gentleness, a depression that you wouldn’t quite expect from PeroxWhy?Gen – but you might be too caught up in the idea: Merrill is with Burnside6. It’s not light music, it’s serious music, yet strangely there is variety in it and – what I would have denied at the beginning – even a common thread. It is an arch from the Father over the Son to the Mother, which is made here – a slight variation of the biblical order or an analogy to the Trinity, i.e. to God Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, who is the Mother here. The emphasis on the mother figure can also be found in Hermann Hesse’s literature, for example in Goldmund und Narziss or Demian. Class done.
Rating: 3,75/5 (Music: 2,5/5, Lyrics: 5/5)
At the end of 2016 or the beginning of 2017, here too opinions differ, Spawn of me, the second solo album, was released – provided you don’t see Similar Creatures as a solo album and Plurality of Worlds as a band album. On it, the first number “Bypass” is a song that finally rocks. Fast, hard, loud, you can turn it up and in this style I would like to have much more! Great I find the chorus: “And here we go again, bypassing the troubles of our lives, and this is how we live to be”, there is a lot in it. Good introduction to the disc and there you can also see a musical development. Is Hardy going through with it? Also “Equivalent” is a bit harder and faster than what you knew from him so far. There’s a pretty good instrumental part in it and you start to pay attention to more than just the lyrics for once – which are also worth reading. It reminds a bit of the Indian proverb: “Never judge another until you’ve walked in his moccasins for a moon”. Once again, this one is about addiction, lies, self-deception and, of course, rehabilitation. You quickly sing along, it’s good, it’s music. After that it gets kind of serious, though it could be that I’m completely misinterpreting the lyrics. “Irreversible” is about memories, short-term memory, concussions and the hope that doctors don’t miss anything. It’s about C.T.E., chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a typical sports injury in boxing, rugby, MMA that occurs after frequent blows to the head. Even wrestlers are not immune to it, who often put away a concussion and do not take it seriously at all. Among others, Chris Benoit is a well-known victim here. Is Hardy admitting here to being afraid, to really shying away from the dangers of a head injury that affects him mentally? That only sounds odd if you know him as a wrestler and know he’s jumped off all the trusses, trucks and the like, taken chairs to the skull, landed with his head in thumbtacks and last but not least hit the back of his head on the stairs in a failed Swanton Bomb in 2020 – after which he stated he didn’t suffer a concussion, which no one ever believed him about, rumor has it he was pressured to say so in the post-match interview. The song itself has earworm potential, you immediately sing along, you’re completely in that rhythm, actually not a bad number if you don’t think about the swashbuckling wrestler. “Nefarious” times properly into the microphone to, well, roar not, but nevertheless with emphasis reinzudonnern, that has already something. By the way, Hardy never yells, there are only a handful of shots from the ring in which he does that, to be honest, I know just one. The lyrics could be somewhat related to the disastrous main event at Victory Road 2011, but also to other things. It’s a darker number for a change, with a sort of emphasis in it alongside the electronic elements, if you made it a bit darker you could almost make a nice gothic number out of it, taking Hardy in a very different musical direction. On the following “Oblivious”, it’s interesting that you can’t find the full lyrics anywhere. Only the first verse is mentioned and the first chorus. That’s a pity, because the song holds something more. As a wrestling fan, you briefly think of Nexus, a group that appeared between 2010 and 2011, but had nothing to do with Hardy, who was not part of the WWE at that time and somehow had other problems. No, it’s about something else and here again you can philosophize a lot about the term nexus, look at it teleologically or see it as the nexus, which is a connection of internal relationships of events. Difficult. With this, it can both amount to a love relationship or be meant reflectively. Both would fit. This brings us back to the lyrics, which have such a strong weight that you can look at them differently and absolutely have to give them space and time. Musically also not completely uninteresting, one does not break out, but has such a kind of hamster wheel rhythm, which turns leisurely on and on, in between nice guitar solo. Not a bad number. The finale is a beautiful song that describes not only Nera’s birth, but also the excitement of the big sister, the happiness of the parents, the father’s oath to protect the offspring with his life. Jeff apologizes to his family for his transgressions, the wasted time, the disrespect. Now everything will be okay, now he will get the world back on track, with Nera’s birth everything changes. It’s a great song that parents can relate to. I’ll play the asshole anyway: This promise didn’t last that long, because the alcohol came again and led Jeff on wrong paths for a short time. Disappointing? No, because actually it only makes clear how strong the love and support in the family can be – and is in Hardy’s own family – because when one stumbles, stumbles, falls, then the others are there and lend a helping hand, pick him up, support him a bit and forgive him. End of the EP, which shows that Hardy musically evolves, becomes a bit faster, is no longer quite so carrying and dull. Turned out pretty good, quite listenable.
Rating: 3,5/5 (Music: 3/5, Lyrics 4/5)
In 2017 PeroxWhy?Gen released their second album (depending on the calculation) – Percession of the Equinoxes. Interesting title, the precession of the equinoxes – with it you get very into astronomy and also find Plato once again. In layman’s terms and simplified spoken, the earth moves by the rotation over a little less than 26,000 years in such a way that after completion of this world cycle beginning and spring point (zodiac sign and spring point) meet again exactly. One speaks of the Platonic year or also the twelve Platonic months, or world months, which last about 2150 years and is always assigned to a sign of the zodiac, namely the constellation in which the vernal equinox is just. Plato speaks of this in his late work Timaeus, and in this very work he also speaks of the transmigration of souls, which we had talked about at “Distance”. So Hardy must know this work. It is exciting that there is a reference to it in both studio albums of PeroxWhy?Gen. This puts the project in a completely different light – and Hardy as well.
With “Sphere on Earth” Jeff applies the same stylistic device that he already used on the first band album. If he spoke there about the father, he speaks now about himself and his mother and his daughter. You have to be a bit forgiving, the 9 years he refers to have not yet occurred, Ruby was born in 2010 and had not yet reached that age when the CD was recorded. But it’s more about the little girl being a kind of reincarnation of her late mother, and it’s a wonderful tribute to both. “Revived” builds up an image of two brothers, but could be meant differently. Since I find the idea of the two brothers so beautiful, walking their path together, fighting, living in memory together and having gone ahead, stumbled and been revived together, I’ll stick with my own interpretation there. Beautiful song, there is a driving rhythm inside, you are pulled along, sings along sometimes, hums that sometimes before himself. That is well done. Lyrically, there is a lot in the slow “Occasion”. The love for the wife, the committed mistakes, the new beginning, the rescue, all that you already know. A bit reflective, remorseful, knowing what he did to Beth and that she’s still there anyway. Nothing special musically, but somehow typical Hardy. “Enigmatic” seems to be the song to the fans. Stay with me, let’s forget what was, if you stand by me, then I can move on. “Creatures” has long been the title of Hardy fans, and it’s only important that he wins their hearts. Well, I was so mean until now not to do exactly that, not to let exactly this past rest – and this will go on until the end of the article, but there is a reason for that. Here again there is a more rocking undertone, soft rock, but still. “Complacent” Hardy himself once described as his favorite song on the disc, representing what he’s been through. Quite a bright underlying mood, no dark tones in there, very aspirational, like stepping into the light, out into the sun, breathing deeply. It’s very clear here that you’ve evolved musically. Can be on a pop album, would not stand out negatively. Then it gets rocky again and that’s so great! That’s actually what you expect. “Otherwise” is once again such a reckoning with life and mistakes and love, which then saved. For once I wouldn’t go for the lyrics here, but really for the music and the overall picture. The number makes mood, it’s good, you want to hear something like that, that pulls along, that is not groovy-fast, but quite solidly made.
I pulled these digital albums onto a stick to listen to them in the car, mixing them all up, quite a nice experience. I always got stuck on “Silver Streets”. Is this really a song about coke, lines, the tingle, the search for the more, the next kick? By the way, I don’t recommend googling Silver Streets, you’ll come up with other things. Anyway, the verses are calm and the chorus bangs in. This is a good mix and absolutely coherent, would also describe quite well this addictive urge. Here one presses gladly on repeat, would be in any case a Anspieltipp. “Unforgivable” proves very nicely the theory that Hardy only sings in his comfort zone. You sing along quickly, the chorus is catchy and the melody is not heavy. Actually, there is nothing special about it and yet you get stuck, listen to the number even gladly several times. After that comes the love song par excellence. “1 or 100”. A song that describes the beginnings of love between Beth and Jeff, the shy 22-year-old who doesn’t dare to approach the young woman. Thanks to her he is no longer the same and grateful for it, can hardly believe his luck to have found such a person and to be allowed to love. But then comes the asthma attack that sends Hardy into a panic, the first time he had to call 911 for someone in his family. True story. I heard that song 20, 30 times and didn’t think the chorus was that great. Until today, until this one time of listening to write this review. For the first time, it ticks me off and makes the song even more rounded, even more perfect. No, there is neither musically nor vocally a top performance, but more emotional you can not write a love song – forget such kitsch as “My Heart will go on”, here it’s about real feelings. This is how love should be in its perfection. “Fiction” starts so hard, so strong, there is finally power in it, which you wish for much more often. The song is good, you like to listen to it again. There is a strong guitar in it, which could come out more clearly and above all more often. Lyrically, one is strongly reminded of the biblical story of Jonah and the whale, or Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, the struggle with the fish that turns out to be a struggle for life. This is the first song that works purely musically, but also purely lyrically, carries you along and can stand on its own. If more would come in this style, PeroxWhy?Gen could have some success. If you want to philosophize a bit more, quickly read the lyrics, the bible text and the novel. This is quite cleverly done by Hardy – and I don’t really care if he did it consciously or if it’s just a blind interpretation, it’s great! Speaking of lush guitar, “Vicariously”. The step PeroxWhy?Gen takes within this album is blatant, overdue, desirable, but blatant. There finally comes hardness in, power, a bit more rock. That was always expected and hoped for. The song is for parents who know this feeling, children are born and then time flies so fast, they grow up so rapidly, you are proud of the small steps they take, and at some point the big leaps and the personalities they have developed into. Hardy is already very happy to be a father, that fulfills him totally, you can tell. Dear girls, don’t let this trigger you when the unfulfilled desire to have children is there, but then just live from the power of the music and forget the lyrics a bit. What is “Emotionless”? The style is good again, but the lyrics deserve attention. A kind of retrospection and self-condemnation, picking up own song titles and once again realizing the mistakes. Hardy is very reflective here, you can feel a bit of anger and disappointment directed against himself. The song can do something, is like a comprehensive review of his life; if you know the lyrics, you have the summary of the fall and rise. “September Day” was written in 2001, shortly after one of America’s blackest days, after 9/11. These are the hurt feelings of an American, the incomprehension, the anger, the hatred, the powerlessness that not only the U.S. but also part of the world felt at that time – on that September day. Actually, one would expect a brute number that freaks out, dripping with hate the triggered drums whipping along the rhythm, booming bass, screeching electric guitars and vocals that make it clear: You hit us, but we will take revenge and watch you die! None of this happens. But if you underlay the images of the burning and collapsing towers with the music, it fits and is coherent. The last song is called “Catastrophic” and is so different from everything before. Slow, quiet vocals, as if one would tread a dark, stony path, stumble, look around fearfully, expect lurking horrors behind trees, bushes – which then appear briefly. Hardy raps the verses here, conveying a hasty hurry on the imaginary path, a fleeing, panic in the eyes. You can feel the menacing, which is also very much due to the background music. It’s not my taste in music at all, but it’s positive for two reasons: Firstly, it is something completely different, stands in stark contrast to the previous styles of Hardy or PeroxWhy?Gen, and secondly, the song just tempts to head cinema and that is very well done. At the end it becomes quite quiet and the album title is mentioned, a final point.
Here, too, the conclusion is mixed. One recognizes clearly a further development of the music. Initially still very similar to the old familiar, the musicians finally go out of themselves and break new ground, which is good for the project. There are now also songs that stand for themselves and no longer live purely on the lyrics. Merrill’s skills come into their own here and can be appreciated much better. Thematically it’s a lot about being a parent, about family, the growing responsibility and strength; Hardy stands here at a completely different point in his life than two years earlier with Within the Cygnus Rift. Vocally, Hardy shows some facets that reveal a certain changeability that he could make a bit more of. This is no longer serious music, it’s entertainment music that appeals to a wider range of listeners. Despite some heavy fare, this is an album that can be recommended to the broader masses without being one of the must-haves. It remains to be seen if the album announced for 2021 will continue on this path.
Rating: 4/5 (Music: 4/5, Lyrics: 4/5)
In 2019, there will be another EP released under Hardy’s name only. This time purely digital, no physical recording available. Individuals features a pensive Jeff on the cover, looking out into the world, the light, from a rather dark room, bare and factory cold. Six songs comprise the EP, beginning with the title track. Very spherical, immediately makes you think of starry nights, takes almost a minute to get going. The vocals are drawn out, almost a bit suffering, pathetic. Here comes hard fare again, it seems. In the middle there is an unexpected guitar solo. Honestly, it’s not a song that catches me, but vocally it’s unexpectedly good. “None of the above” has top vocals from the halfway point along with another short guitar solo. You could make more out of this. Lyrically it’s kind of sad and at the same time very hopeful, once again it’s about the supernatural. “Secure” follows and – hello? What’s that ingenious bass line inside? I am in love with it! Headphones in and listen only to the bass, that makes happy – and leads to the fact that I’m not even interested in the rest. But the number rocks! It’s ingenious! Good guitar work, fitting vocals, driving rhythm – and did I already mention the bass? It’s a bit surprising that this number is not on a PeroxWhy?Gen album. Dear Jeff Hardy, do you actually know that you could appeal to a larger audience with this kind of music, which really rocks out to it? The following “Unimportant” would then be a nice, quieter number, again with nice guitar work, there was finally really fine plucked on the strings, that had been missing so far, it was too restrained mostly, too soft, too reserved. The same is then again “Redemption”, which could be at the same time a love song to Beth, but also to Jeff’s self. A three-part mini-documentary was also made under the title by WWE to tell Hardy’s way out of addiction. Although very slow and wearing and without containing any highlight, the number pleases. But I can’t even tell you why. The EP ends with my all time favorite by Hardy. It was the first song that stuck in my ear, even after the first listen. The vocals captivate me and even though the hookline is completely missing like in most songs, it pulls me along. “Talent” is a little ass kicking, you’ve reached absolute zero, but there’s still something there, so get off your butt and show the world that there’s more to you. Fall and Rise …This
EP introduced me to Hardy’s music. It’s varied, it has quiet and loud, soft and hard, if you look at previous solo records of his, you can clearly see how he keeps evolving, getting better, finding a certain style without limiting and restricting himself and his art. It’s good. The first time I listened to it I would have found it pretty lousy, but by now … well done, buddy!
2020, the year of the pandemic, of conspiracies, of lies, of truths, of fear, of depression. It would be nice if 2020 could be described as the year of solidarity, return to elementary values and humanity, but we know that these were only small fires that burned – and were all the more important for it. The cover of the song “Vaccine”, released again under PeroxWhy?Gen, shows a pale, downright sick-looking Jeff Hardy behind chicken wire. Fitting for a pandemic and a perpetual lockdown. He urges people to pray for each other and ends up saying a vaccine is needed. Quite a passable alternative rock number that once again features a guitar solo that also shows that they are starting to place value on such elements within the band. Good. “Vaccine” is good, fitting the prevailing mood, it would do splendidly as a film score in a scene where you briefly show all the protagonists without dialogue, taking another breath before facing the difficult test.
Finally, there was a Hardy EP in 2020: Human Forms. The cover shows the artist with a blatant body painting, a heart painted on huge, the body gray, a reflection, “Enigma” written on the arm. Pretty well done. “Sentiment” is a depressive feeling, death, passing away, the music even dies, the technology makes everything a bit cold, strange, lonely. Well, you don’t want to hear that in 2020, but somehow it’s just fitting, it’s sad, hurts a bit. And because it hurts right now, let’s continue with “Embrangle”. It’s pure self-awareness, and by the way, it’s a good song for addicts and self-harmers to realize there’s a way out. Hardy almost perished and yet managed to survive and this is a role model, an example, a sign that it is possible. Even if the song is slow and sad, it gives hope. Let’s do another one: “Memento mori”. This “remember that you have to die” actually used to mean that you should live in such a way that you can go before the Last Judgment every day and save your soul. Doing good, living well, living reverently, living faithfully. But if one simply takes this “memento mori” literally, then it is the request to live at all, because one just dies sometime, then it strikes into the notch of Henry David Thoreau and his aphorism: “I went through the woods, because I wanted to live thoughtfully, I wanted to live intensely. I wanted to absorb the marrow of life in order to eradicate everything that was not life. So that I would not realize at the hour of death that I had not lived at all.” The saying is familiar to many from the book and film adaptation The Dead Poets Society. And it is this meaning that is reflected in Sing “Longevity”. “And I know, I’m dying, and so are you,” it says. We stay with the heavy fare, with the melancholic, philosophical Hardy. But after that comes a love song that Beth, in particular, had quite enjoyed. “Dreaming in Love” – and it’s really nice. He’s just good at love songs, and this is another one that makes you dream away and give your loved one a big hug. How well Jeff manages here again to bring these feelings, this love vocally, to make tangible, not many manage – and there are damn many love songs … Next it goes with “Sober lies”, there the title is program and betrays well, what it’s about. Strong line, which is repeated again and again: “Everything to lose, so much to gain”. You just have to let that work. The strong conclusion is the title track – which could be at the same time title track of the past year or fight song of a whole generation. Hardy becomes surprisingly clear and political here. He brings up racism without directly naming the killing of George Floyd in May 2020, it’s clear what drove him to write this song – and it’s good. He uses no platitudes, no slogans, no hashtags, but sings of love, of rethinking, of much needed change. It would be a perfect ’68 song, and if the music were different, it would have long since become an anthem, but even so, you could form chains of lights through the cities and sing this song as a peace anthem. Hardy has created something special here, which unfortunately reaches far too few, because he does not draw attention to his music. The most important thing about the song, is the part he speaks: “
“Worldwide perfection is impossible, and crime will always be around, the idea of racism in 2020 makes me sick, know-it-alls and power abusers must learn the true beauty behind compromise, true beauty beneath any color, color doesn’t matter, and man, police brutality during a rapacious pandemic, we have got to be better than this overall, peace and love, not death and hate, uniforms should be respected, not feared, America, come on…” Wow.
Human Forms is reflective, melancholy, suited to the circumstances of a hard, lonely year. Perfectly suited to the times and sadly under-appreciated.
That’s it – and it wasn’t easy. Listening to Hardy’s music is a roller coaster of emotions, but mainly painful, it hurts, it tears your heart, it makes you feel his pain – and yet you don’t even come close to it. But at the same time the music gives courage, gives hope and in the end it’s just fun. Hardy’s further development as a musician is clearly recognizable, he becomes better, he becomes more audible for a broader mass, which he unfortunately does not reach due to too little advertising. But he doesn’t sell himself, he stays true to himself and his style, does his thing. After all the albums and EPs it becomes clear that you understand Jeff Hardy’s music better – or maybe exclusively – if you know his biography. Then lines of lyrics make sense, then some things feel even more intense. There are more songs whose lyrics you know because they showed up somewhere at some point without ever becoming songs – and you’re left with the anticipation of more. In March 2021, Hardy did a handful of live performances in Florida. The recordings that can be found show that he has improved again vocally. What he doesn’t shed, however, is his shyness. He likes to sing with his eyes closed, sometimes holding his hands in front of his face or sheepishly putting them in his pockets, preferring not to be there at all, just the voice, just the music. A stage in the dark, making him totally disappear, would probably be the best environment for his performances, then he would be free, unselfconscious and could give himself completely. Hardy is not the world’s best singer, but he works on himself. The songs often lack hooklines, vocally he stays in his comfort zone, doesn’t freak out, doesn’t go out of himself. This is Jeff Hardy who never shows anger, not even in music, maybe because he was once angry and couldn’t direct that anger against anything, because who do you get angry at when an illness takes your mother away and with that your root? He directed his anger and pain against himself and almost perished from it. He has lost his smile, that smile that could push back the deepest darkness, and is so rarely shown in public. Now Hardy, although only 43, seems ancient. The emotions, the demons that he always has to fight with, have made him age infinitely, as if he had felt all the emotions of the world. After Jeff Hardy sings the best “Last Kiss” cover there is, you could imagine a covers album with songs like “Stairways to heaven”, “Golden Brown”, “Supergirl”, “Hurt” (which he has already covered), “Sweet Dreams”, “Puff the magic dragon”, “Perfect Day”, “Streets of London”, “Where do you got to, my Lovely” – and his very own version of “Sound of Silence”. I misjudged him, I must honestly admit. The first impression was bad, the last one is very good, a positive surprise, which also shows: Sometimes it is worthwhile and indispensable to listen to a supposedly bad CD again and again, because the beauty unfolds only with time. All that’s missing now is a little more attention, a little more exploitation of the possibilities of social media, because art has to be seen and heard. An exhibition would be nice, a club tour through Europe would probably be more successful than one might think, and of course what is also missing: vinyl! The opportunities and the peculiarities of vinyl can’t really be denied to an artist like Hardy, who would thus have the opportunity to let off steam in a painterly way, to create a limited edition with postcards, posters, whatever. The ideas are there, but Jeff Hardy is different from so many other artists.
The fall of the charismatic young man, his struggle with himself, the circumstances, his inner self, his feelings, the demons that drown out everything. The rise of a vulnerable yet incredibly strong man who has overcome his addiction problems – and will have to fight them until his last day. Feels like his addiction issues were discussed more and, more importantly, incorporated into storylines more than any other wrestler. He’s never denied it, he’s walked the walk, fallen, asked for forgiveness and picked himself back up. For that, Hardy deserves a lot of respect. As well as for the fact that through his story, his strength and the courage to face the fans and the world with it again and again, he is a great role model for all those who are also struggling with demons and their addiction problems. There is a way out – and Hardy has crawled out of absolute darkness into the light. In a poem titled “The Fans,” Hardy wonders how they will receive him, accept him, stand by him when he falls – and whether they will remember him when he is old. They will, because Jeff Hardy has made himself a legend. Chapeau, Jeff! No more words…