Sunday, December 17, 2006

I Was Wrong: Nirvana Changed It All

I'm a knee-jerk hater. As soon as the big bandwagon takes off one way, I head the other. I'd rather gouge my eyes out than watch Titanic. There is this entire list of things I hate "just because."

So there I sat at the dawn of the 1990s. In the past 24 months, I had seen most of the heavy metal "hair bands" in person. I loved Motley Crue and Metallic.

And here came punk-ass Kurt Cobain and Nirvana and something called "Alternative" music. I was pretty happy with the status quo, thank you very much. So pretty much f*** them.

I was going to school at Johnson County Community College (a long story for another day). I hung out with a kid named Andy Scarce (I think that was the spelling). We were both pre-med students, and we alternatively drove around in my Jeep Wrangler or his massive Oldsmobile Delta.

Andy listened to Nirvana, so it gained some affection by association. I came to like it over time. I bought the CD. I'm still not fond of the naked baby on the cover, but that music now feels like a part of me. It was part of my life.

The other day, I found myself saying, "Nevermind was the most important album of the 1990s."

It caused me to pause at the moment. It caused me to pause again as I ripped the song onto my laptop today.

I cannot imagine anyone reading this who has not had their lives affected by suicide. It's terribly sad when it happens to you. Yet I feel some profound angst for Kurt Cobain. Culturally, he was changing the world.

Yet one is left to wonder what changes never happened.

It amazes me the role that Nevermind has played in my life. It's not quite the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, but it changed everything for me.

Everything changed in 1991. I stopped being a jackass teen-ager and started becoming a man. I started this journey of becoming a cognitive scientist. And somehow the first step of that journey is inextricably wound up with Smells Like Teen Spirit.

P.S. Andy, if you run across this one day vanity Googling yourself, I'd love to hear from you. I didn't mean to lose touch. And I'd love to hear whether you ever became an anesthesiologist. Along the way I found out that I don't like to touch sick people.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the great conflict (or paradox) is what happens when a persona is built on being a nobody and not wanting attention... and then that person becomes the face of a decade.

Sometimes you have to wonder what legends like Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin would have accomplished, both musically and socially, had they lived into their middle-aged years. It seems that death at such young ages elevated each of them into legend status, and they could then do nothing to ruin this status.

While Nevermind may have been the most important album of the 90's, I'd like to give "props" to Red Hot Chili Peppers with Blood Sugar Sex Magik and Jane's Addiction with Ritual de lo Habitual.

Go Bucks!

9:33 PM  
Anonymous Sam said...

Good points, all.

And I will grant you both of those albums.

It's like the John Elway / Joe Montanta type of debate.

Sadly, I am wearing a Florida T-shirt as I type this, but don't think I'm cheating on you.

10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes, day in and day out, suicide seems to be the answer. I have known how it cheats those who remain, but the lure remains.
Anonymous: What happens to you if you want to be even a small "somebody" and no one cares?

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed, Nevermind ushered in grunge, and grunge ushered in alternative. I would also throw Aenema by Tool in there, as well, but Nirvana definitely set the tone for the rest of the decade and beyond.

7:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just like being one of the many "anonymous" posters here.

About Tool... I saw them performing in Columbus this Fall, and they are still amazing. It was quite a show.

11:06 AM  

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