Today at work I had to write a short bio of an artist. Then I remembered I needed to write ‘90s Music Monday. Because it’s Monday I had zero inspiration. So my first move was obviously straight to Google so I could find out what musical things happened on September 24, 1991, also known as the coolest day in September in 1991. Also, my birthday.
The first Google result was the Wikipedia page for the album Nevermind by Nirvana. Alas, my musical breakthrough happened.
Let me now begin the story of my “mild rebellion” and often renewed love affair with one of the most interesting musical acts of the ‘90s. Say hello to Nirvana.
Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic first established themselves as Nirvana in the late 1980s and found their longest lasting drummer, Dave Grohl, three years later in 1990. The boys made their first mark on the business as part of the grunge scene coming out of Seattle with the release of their first album, Bleach. Known for their dynamic contrasts of quiet singing on verses with loud, raucous choruses the band finally landed at DGC Records and amazed audiences with the release of their first single off the Nevermind album, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.
By the early days of 1992 Nevermind had replaced a Michael Jackson album at the top of the charts and even produced three other singles: “Come as You Are”, “Lithium”, and “In Bloom”. All of which are awesome songs on their own. The album went on to be certified Diamond and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide.
Thank you Wikipedia, for providing me with so many random facts I didn’t know. I can now tell readers the stuff that really matters to me about this wonderful, emotional album.
The reason I even picked up this album is because I am so easily influenced. Probably two Christmases ago I watched a VH1 countdown for the greatest classic rock songs of all time and it seriously changed my life. Since then I haven’t stopped listening to some of (in my opinion) the best music ever made. It was creative, it flowed, it was loud, it was meaningful—it was everything consumers want in an album! No one can make a record like Led Zeppelin. Whole other story. So I went to Half Price Books one day when I was bored and had Christmas money and dug through the rock section of CDs until I had picked out three albums: Nevermind by Nirvana, (I believe) II by Led Zeppelin, and Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses; do I have taste or what? I now see this as my “rebellious college phase,” but I also value it as my musical awakening. These three CDs opened my mind to what is now one of my favorite and most played genres of music. I mean one of the first radio stations I look for in a new city is the rock station…it’s safe to say I truly enjoy this music.
Back to Nirvana. And all the spirit.
So, wiki has it that Kurt named the song after a painting his friend wrote on his wall, “Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Before this they were having a discussion of anarchism and punk rock which Kurt took with a revolutionary meaning. Honestly they were probably strung out on something too, but to each their own, right? Anyways, every 20 something loves a good revolutionary moment (ahem, me) when they have a breakthrough and can finally understand whatever has been so confusing for so long.
The song is totally insightful for zero reasons. It’s hard to understand anything he’s saying no matter how many times you’ve listened and no one even knows exactly what it means, nor will they ever. I still listen to the song while reading the lyrics on a regular basis… One time I read an article—well most of an article—online that was trying to describe to me what Kurt’s message was with the lyrics. Originally he explained that the song was about his friends and how they weren’t doing what anyone thought they should be doing as adults. Later he changed his answer to something about his surroundings and people his age/his generation, but some people still think the lyrics are a mix of meaning and no meaning. However, if you dig deeper and analyze it like a high school English teacher, some people even say the meanings in the lyrics compare the conflict in the words to the conflicts within the narrator of the song. Whatever, Google it; even Dave Grohl isn’t sure if the song has a meaning.
But here’s the deal: you can love or hate or be indifferent to the sound of grunge. The only thing I can say is that if you enjoy grooving to music and reading lyrics on your iPhone screen while trying to follow along, this is the band for you. The lyrics don’t make much sense, but that’s what makes so much sense. I don’t know the meaning of this song or have much background to assign to it. So I like to read the lyrics and apply them to my own life and my own feelings.
“And for this gift I feel blessed
Our little group has always been
And always will until the end”
To me, this section of lyrics is talking about friends. This is my group of best friends. I seriously would die without them. Since we found each other I’ve had no doubts about their loyalty, no matter how many times they piss me the heck off. They support me in every way I need and let me grow on my own. They rock. Cheesy. Judge me. Whatever.
I can also see a little sexual innuendo in other verses, but that’s for the birds. Every song every written has some kind of innuendo written in or assumed by society.
And so we reach the end of a super-charged, moderate length review of one of the bands that changed my life. Thanks guys.