This week marks the 20th anniversary of Nirvana's magnum opus. Here's why it's better than any of the rest.
The dominant narrative in this country, even now, is that you pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and you will be rewarded with great riches, power and popularity. That is, of course, untrue—something that Nirvana explored in its lyrics. But something unexpected happened: they blew up. Their music resonated deeply with everyone who’d been disenfranchised by the voracious, greedy ‘80s, and there was a revolution rooted in ‘60s counterculture and ‘70s punk rock. Anarchist cheerleaders were suddenly on television, moshing. Nirvana were the depressive weirdos, and suddenly the depressive weirdos were the dominant narrative. Even if you’re used to being the underdog, sometimes it’s nice to be on top.
2. 'Corporate Magazines Still Suck'
But sometimes you don’t want to be on top. The interminable slogan Cobain wore on the cover of Rolling Stone to protest the personal-political concessions his own weary fame demanded of him, “Corporate Magazines Still Suck” represented the antiestablishment attitude of the band—and the crucial disconnect between his desire for people to hear his music, and his disdain for the tactics he took to get there. Still, Nirvana released its music on major label DGC—and now, in the split-income Internet era, it’s rare for even punk-rooted bands to have anti-corporate attitudes (evidence: every car commercial featuring your favorite music). Nirvana was the first to really grapple with this ethical conundrum, and ultimately opened the doors for “that one Volkswagen commercial” (read: every ad featuring your favorite music).
3. The Rise of the Working Class
Working-class rock music is the best, at least when it’s lefty (apologies to my fellow prog rock fans)—two words, Bruce Springsteen. But Nirvana did it different: they didn’t aspire to be within the system, ideologically speaking, and so they made it cool to buck a system that would hang you out to dry if you let it.
4. The Rise of Working-Class Fashion
In the same way, they made the grunge aesthetic cool—which meant those of us who’d been clothes shopping at Salvation Army out of necessity were finally in style. It sounds banal, but if you’ve been that kid, it’s absolutely important.
I have to confess that I'm not a big fan of Guns N Roses; and this one is my least favorite GunsNRoses song. I agree with Cobain on this one, LOL. Very appropriate, too. The world of entertainment and stardom is like a jungle, rock is no exception.
Heh, just about the only song they did that I liked. Raw.
The only Guns N Roses song I like is "Sweet Child of Mine" and that is mostly because my baby (my youngest son) like that song when he was a tween/teen.
I love the Unplugged album
Nirvana was the first rock band I ever listened to. Before them I was listening to kid shit and bubble-gum pop. It's because I got turned on to Nirvana that I began exploring the wide world of music, discovering the greatest band ever, Led Zeppelin, among others.
I quickly established my style as Blues, but also loved Classic Rock, Progressive Rock, and Psychedelia... but I will always and forever love Seattle Grunge, and entirely because of Nirvana. This band influenced my musical life, really. I may be a bigger fan of Led Zeppelin, but no music had greater influence on my life than Nirvana did and still does. I can't get enough of Nirvana. They are the only other band, along with Led Zeppelin, that does not have a song, released of unreleased, that I don't like.
Admittedly, Nevermind is not my favorite album. Bleach is. In fact, of their original studio albums (Bleach, Nevermind, Incesticide [a disc of rarities and b-sides], and In Utero), it's my least favorite. But I have to put that in perspective, because, quite honestly, despite the fact that it's my least favorite of Nirvana's original studio albums, it is still, in my opinion, one of the greatest albums ever released, and I never tire of listening to it over and over again.
BTW... did you know that, on Saturday, September 24, at 8 pm, on Sirius Radio, Jon Stewart (yes, the Daily Show's Jon Stewart) will be interviewing Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic? I don't have Sirius, but I'll be trawling the web as I'm dying to hear this interview. I hope you are, too.
And one more interesting factoid. Did you know that Kurt Cobain, while sometimes considering himself a Buddhist and at other times a Jain, may have considered himself an atheist, as well?
The guy who got me into Nirvana told me Cobain was an atheist. At the time, I was still a believer, but I also thought it was part of what made Kurt's and Nirvana's image so epic. I loved that he might have been an atheist, even when I thought that God did exist.