Still smells like teen spirit
April 6, 2011 8:32 AM   Subscribe

Kurt Cobain's (obligatory Wikipedia link) body was found at his home on April 8, 1994. His estimated time of death was three days previously - that is, seventeen years ago yesterday.

The influence of Cobain and Nirvana, musically and culturally, remains at issue: the Village Voice described them in their introduction to Everett True's columns as "one of the most overrated bands of the 90s", and added a tag ribbing True for his frequent references to Cobain. As a rule of thumb, getting a Weird Al Yankovic (Google video, sound) parody song is a sign of at least ephemeral cultural importance. However, long after Cobain's death, the anniversary still occasions tributes both heartfelt and bewildering.

Rolling Stone reprints Neil Strauss' longform piece on Cobain from 1994.

Actor and Musician Jared Leto dresses as Kurt Cobain and performs two Nirvana songs (YT, NSFW for language), in the style of Nirvana: MTV Unplugged in New York (link to contemporary NME review).

Local artists Kim and Lora Malakoff unveil a 13-foot statue of the Cobain-designed Fender Jag-Stang guitar in his hometown of Aberdeen, WA.

Not strictly speaking an April 5th tribute, but the inspiration for this post: Kathleen Hanna, performing last December at Our Hit Parade at Joe's Pub, NY, talks about Cobain and performs Smells Like Teen Spirit (YT, NSFW for salty stories, language, nudity).
posted by running order squabble fest (256 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
I still listen to Nirvana. Whether that has to do with the quality of the music or the fact that Nirvana was huge when I was in middle school (the only time I really ever listened to the radio), I don't know.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:35 AM on April 6, 2011


I'm reading this bio of Nick Drake. It's more than just a bio, it's more a history of the era and how Drake fit into it. Anywhoo...lots of snark in it about how Melody Maker and others were whining about Led Zeppelin being the most over-rated band in England in 1970. So, yeah...EVERYTHING is overrated when you think you're holier.
posted by spicynuts at 8:36 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Still smells like teen spirit

I dunno... have you listened to what teenagers are listening to lately?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:36 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I never got the appeal. The music was okay, I guess...
posted by CarlRossi at 8:36 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dear Kurt,
Thanks for killing hair metal.

Love,
DR
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:41 AM on April 6, 2011 [30 favorites]


Seventeen years ago? That's not possible. Way to make me feel old.
posted by desjardins at 8:43 AM on April 6, 2011 [11 favorites]


I never got the appeal. The music was okay, I guess...

The angst and alienation Cobain put into his music came from the source as that felt by his fans. The music didn't have to be good. And mostly it wasn't.
posted by ocschwar at 8:45 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I never hated my parents enough to like Nirvana. I also felt sorry for other kids that were into grunge rock when there was so much better stuff coming out of Madchester and Creation Records then.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:47 AM on April 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


there was so much better stuff coming out of Madchester and Creation Records then.

I like you. You're funny.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:49 AM on April 6, 2011 [28 favorites]


spicynuts, what's the name of the bio you're reading? It sounds interesting...

(obligatory Where Were You? story) I was a junior in college and walking through the Student College Center when I found out. I remember not being particularly surprised.
posted by Lucinda at 8:50 AM on April 6, 2011


The angst and alienation Cobain put into his music came from the source as that felt by his fans. The music didn't have to be good. And mostly it wasn't.

That was sort of the point when you compare it to whatever else was available at the time. Bob Rock (of Motley Crue) was producing Metallica's Black album, Anthrax was on tour with NWA(?) or whoever on some sort of metal/rap fusion thing. Dave Mustaine had again emerged from rehab, fired the band, and produced a slick sounding album full of crap.

Hell, even I had given up on "modern" music at that time and was busily exploring 60s psychedelic rock and 70s folk.

Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana - among others - brought back to that tired music industry a sense of realism and connection to the fans.

But I was 18 when Smells like Teen spirit debuted, and hell, I campaigned for Perot that year. I might be off on some of my judgements, but thats how I saw it then.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:51 AM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Aaaaarrrrrrgggghhhhhh!!!! Remembering that Cobain died 17 years ago is like choosing the wrong Holy Grail from all the available options.

Remembering that Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade came out 22 years ago is worse.

If you'll excuse me, I have to go shout at my college students to get off my damn lawn.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:51 AM on April 6, 2011 [14 favorites]


What really makes me feel old is that when Cobain died I barely knew who he was. Because I was old . . . .
posted by JanetLand at 8:51 AM on April 6, 2011 [9 favorites]


Goddamn!

I was 12 when that happened. I can't believe how much has occurred since then.
posted by zizzle at 8:51 AM on April 6, 2011


Paradoxically, one of the main contributions Nevermind left to the music world was Andy Wallace's mixes, which are routinely held up among audio engineers as the gold standard of clean, radio-ready hard rock engineering. He took the elements of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," cleaned and sculpted them, moved them to their own places in the audio spectrum and sound stage, gave them little mechanical parts to play. The result was the equivalent of taking a grainy Polaroid and using Photoshop to turn it into a David la Chapelle photo.

This ultra-burnished, artificially electric sound quickly became what everyone wanted. Everyone, that is, except Kurt Cobain, who turned to Steve Albini so In Utero could have a squashed-vomit sound, with all the instruments grinding together.
posted by argybarg at 8:52 AM on April 6, 2011 [13 favorites]


I like you. You're funny.

Ok. thanks.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:52 AM on April 6, 2011


Never got into him. Never cared for rock much anyway, but it was also like "Life sucks already, I know that, I don't need someone loud and incoherent to keep reminding me of that fact."
posted by Melismata at 8:52 AM on April 6, 2011


Worth it just for the Jared Leto video.
posted by mysterpigg at 8:59 AM on April 6, 2011


Making teenagers depressed is like shooting fish in a barrel.
-- Bart Simpson, Homerpalooza

Never has Nirvana been summed up by one quote so succinctly.
posted by Talez at 9:01 AM on April 6, 2011 [10 favorites]


Cobain and I were born 6 days apart, Fire Goat/Aquarius.
posted by stbalbach at 9:02 AM on April 6, 2011


I was in my first post-collegiate job and a friend called my office to tell me that his body had been found. I was shocked to feel like someone hit me in the gut with a steel pipe, since in these situations, I usually just think, "Aw, that's too bad," but Cobain's death was different.

I'm at most a casual Nirvana fan, and he's not the first musician whose personal emotional torment no one gave a shit about as long as the money was rolling in. The only other celebrity's death that affected me so strongly was John Lennon's when I was 11, and I was (and am) a much bigger fan of Lennon's, so I still can't reckon why Cobain's death bugs me so much.
posted by droplet at 9:03 AM on April 6, 2011


I was 12 and my favorite band was Nirvana, and I can't tell you how influential and positive they were for me. They were my punk rock, they made me question everything, they made me smarter. It's easy to be jaded about the whole downer teen angst thing going on in the music. But I was young and reading the biography of the band was sort of life changing. The way Kurt befriended and stood up for gay people at his high school, and the ways he went against the grain in order to be compassionate and real, made me realize that my friends laughing about "fags" were just incredibly immature and lame.
posted by naju at 9:03 AM on April 6, 2011 [20 favorites]


someone loud and incoherent

is not a characterization of Cobain that would be considered accurate
posted by archivist at 9:06 AM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


The music that was popular in your teen years always holds a special place in your memory. Thus I don't disparage the music others hold in such great esteem lest they do the same to me and mine.
posted by tommasz at 9:06 AM on April 6, 2011 [20 favorites]


Worth it just for the Jared Leto video.

Hmm, didn't mean to sound like his death was worth it for the video. Certainly not. But this is an awesome post, and I still wonder what Nirvana would sound like today if Kurt hadn't died. In Utero showed a lot of growth since the Bleach era.
posted by mysterpigg at 9:09 AM on April 6, 2011


When I heard the news, I provided everyone in this densely-populated residential neighborhood with an unsolicited 5,000 watt recap of his oeuvre. Not one complaint.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:10 AM on April 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


I remember in 2002 when "You Know You're Right" was finally released and feeling sad all over again because that song was so goddamned good, particularly when the leading rock song of the year at that point was Chad Kroeger's miserably bad cover of "Hero" and Avril Lavigne was ascendant into fame. Then "You Know You're Right" comes along like Cobain's ghost, saying "no, you fucks, this is how you do it."
posted by mightygodking at 9:10 AM on April 6, 2011 [14 favorites]


I actually saw Pearl Jam at the Patriot Center in Va, the day they found Kurt.
That was a very hardcore (emotionally) show, for everyone.

Ed said during the show "When you put someone up on a pedestal, it's real easy for them to fall."
I think he could see himself becoming that if things didn't change for him and the band at that point.
posted by ShawnString at 9:12 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a tween when Nirvana hit, I never thought "life sucks" was Nirvana's message as all the haters seem to believe. Lyrically, the songs cover a lot of ground in an impressionistic way, and at the time I just thought Nirvana was really good, satisfying rock music. Most importantly at the time, they passed the Holden Caufield "sniff test" for phoniness. To me, all the Bush/Papa Roach stuff that came afterward aped their sound and attitude, trying to sound miserable, but with Nirvana I felt that's where the music was coming FROM - it wasn't what the music was about.
posted by lubujackson at 9:12 AM on April 6, 2011 [13 favorites]


I never had any friends albums later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?
posted by utsutsu at 9:13 AM on April 6, 2011 [23 favorites]


I saw Nirvana live in Toronto in 1993. At the end of the show, Cobain walked out onto the stage by himself and started playing guitar. He played solo for about twenty minutes and it was INCREDIBLE. He was musically baring his soul. I had never seen a performance that real and raw. It was truly amazing. The sound haunts me still.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:13 AM on April 6, 2011 [11 favorites]


I have to admit, a fair chunk of my antipathy comes from the way you couldn't turn on a TV or open a magazine in the aftermath of Cobain's suicide without having him shoved down my throat as the voice of my generation (who were simultaneously stereotyped as politically and socially apathetic.) Meanwhile, I was struggling with a suicide attempt from a friend, and the declining mental health of a family member. The media circus invented around his suicide to create a grand generational narrative struck me as beyond bad taste.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:13 AM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I liked Nirvana's music, but was always taken aback at how people thought Cobain's songs were something new.

I mean, they were a decent post-punk band with unintelligible lyrics.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:14 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know what? Nirvana were a great fucking band. All right-thinking people agree. Cobain was a beautiful golden child and I hope he is as high as god for all eternity.
posted by generalist at 9:14 AM on April 6, 2011 [18 favorites]


Nirvana was the moment when the stuff we were listening to finally got on the radio. The radio doesn't matter so much any more, so it's easy to overlook that today. But it was a big deal back then, because it was on the radio and it was good. Really good. Nirvana never made a bad record.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:17 AM on April 6, 2011 [16 favorites]


Oh my god, I am so old. I remember being on the campus shuttle and two girls behind me were talking about the death.

Nirvana (and all that radio grunge stuff) was a bit of a joke in our [punk rock] circles, although I think we as a group felt some connection to the whole thing because Courtney Love had lived in Minneapolis (that is, was a local, sort of) and was still sort of a figure in riot grrrl and fanzine culture.

What ever happened to all that "Courtney killed Kurt" stuff that was going around back then anyway?

All the dead are dead alike, but I do feel sorry for her and her daughter, and pretty much figure their various antics are excusable.
posted by Frowner at 9:18 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana - among others - brought back to that tired music industry a sense of realism and connection to the fans.

But I was 18 when Smells like Teen spirit debuted...


I don't have any real strong feelings about Nirvana/Cobain either way, but comments like the above are just for some reason why I can't help but admire those bands. Every generation needs something like that, for me it was The Clash and The Sex Pistols. I hope the kids today have something similar that I probably don't understand.

And reading the Rolling Stone piece, it's just a sad thing, and I think he did have a lot of potential.
posted by marxchivist at 9:19 AM on April 6, 2011


I loved Nevermind when it first came out. I played the hell out of it mostly because it sounded so good cranked up loud. I never liked Cobain, though. He seemed too much the archetypal depressed disaffected whiny artist. (Same went for Eddie Vedder at the time)
When Cobain died I was mostly surprised at the adulation he got.
posted by rocket88 at 9:19 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Please don't acknowledge Leto.

I mean, I don't want to be backed into a corner of saying how it's desecrating Kurt's memory or something, because while Nirvana meant (and means) a lot to me I think he deserves better than either lazy deification or lazy tearing-down, but seriously, fuck posting a fucking soulless, vapid shitheel actor callously raping the memory of something that was once meaningful in a tribute/memorial thread.
posted by anazgnos at 9:19 AM on April 6, 2011 [9 favorites]


Always overlooked - RIP Layne Staley, 9 years ago yesterday.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:20 AM on April 6, 2011 [24 favorites]


spicynuts, what's the name of the bio you're reading? It sounds interesting...


It's this guy . Interestingly, I found it in a trash can across the street from my apartment. I'm not really big on Nick Drake but something about the book called to me.
posted by spicynuts at 9:20 AM on April 6, 2011


I have to admit, a fair chunk of my antipathy comes from the way you couldn't turn on a TV or open a magazine in the aftermath of Cobain's suicide without having him shoved down my throat as the voice of my generation (who were simultaneously stereotyped as politically and socially apathetic.)

Dexter Holland or Billy Corgan were far better voices of the generation. They actually spoke. Cobain was a mumbling incoherent rambling.

Smells like Teen Spirit always struck me more with its whiny entitlement that the world was responsible for making our empty, apathetic, emotionally drained generation feel something because, god forbid, there was no giant world adversity for us to overcome like every generation before us.
posted by Talez at 9:21 AM on April 6, 2011


If only it had been, like, 25 years ago.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:25 AM on April 6, 2011


I always figured that success was what basically went wrong for both Cobain and Love--they were born to be well-known local rockers, the kind of people who still get pointed out at the bar when they're 45 and still play the occasional benefit show at the best bar venue in town when they're in their fifties, the kind of people who are sort of fucked-up drunks but who have enough local people around them to keep them sane and functioning. I sometimes imagine an alternative Courtney, living in Minneapolis, hitting the CC club, working at that hair salon next to Caffetto, getting in fights at shows, having a rep.
posted by Frowner at 9:26 AM on April 6, 2011 [9 favorites]


Dear Kurt,
Thanks for killing hair metal.


You can kill hair metal, but you can't kill dumb guys making dumb music. Nirvana's success motivated the hair-metallers (themselves the descendants of 70s butt-rockers like Bad Company) to change their clothes, write about being angry instead of partying, and call themselves "grunge". Within five years this morphed into nu-metal, where it more or less remains today (cf. Nickelback). At least hair metal had more songs about partying.
posted by calculon at 9:27 AM on April 6, 2011 [11 favorites]


I'm mostly a jazz pianist, but I play "Lithium" sometimes. Their chords don't work the way traditional chords work. But the melody makes it happen. Anyway, just a random opinion from someone unfamiliar with a lot of great rock music due to my infatuation with jazz and African/Mideast/Near Eastern music, but I like Nirvana.
posted by kozad at 9:28 AM on April 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


You can kill hair metal, but you can't kill dumb guys making dumb music.

Yeah, it's against the law. *sigh*
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:28 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


One reason I always go to this site is to find out who died today or will be remembered for having done so in the recent past. The day never passes when some death is not noted here.
posted by Postroad at 9:30 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dear Kurt,
Thanks for killing hair metal.


This nails it. To truly get Nirvana, you need to get their context. And man did they send those "power wimps" scurrying. More than any other band of their moment, Nirvana put the danger back into what could be accomplished with bass drums guitar and howling VOICE. The first time I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit, I knew that a change was a comin'. It was that fresh, that eviscerating, that good. And oh yeah, I would've been 32 at the time.

But, in the end, it was also too much. By the time of his death, I was personally exhausted by the uncompromising "truth-telling" of Cobain (and various of his less significant contemporaries). There was no joy left in any of it, no hope. It's like it had to end in death.

In fact, I remember that my favorite pop song of that year was this little ditty from Tom Jones of all people. I think we all just needed a break, Mr. Cobain included.
posted by philip-random at 9:31 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't realize that Nevermind and Badmotorfinger came out so close to one another - two weeks apart, apparently. I gotta say, the latter made a much bigger impression on me.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:32 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nirvana made great music to jump around your seventh-grade best friend's living room to. For me that was about it (and that was enough), but I had several friends in whose emotional lives Kurt Cobain was an important force for good. Cobain's songs may be about depression, but they aren't depressing--even the slow, sad ones have a reinvigorating and genuinely human energy. Two decades later I can put on any Nirvana album (even Bleach) and it still sounds good; any Nirvana album on my car stereo will cause me to drive faster. What more can anyone ask of a rock band?

Dexter Holland or Billy Corgan were far better voices of the generation.

I always preferred The Smashing Pumpkins to Nirvana and still do, but the notion of a generation for whom Billy Corgan would be "the voice" is utterly horrifying to me. As for Dexter Holland, well...
posted by DaDaDaDave at 9:33 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


... Billy Corgan were far better voices of the generation

*winces*
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:33 AM on April 6, 2011 [22 favorites]


I remember hearing Bleach played for the first time on a radio station with the vaguely-defined "college" format with a "What? Is? That?" sensation. I believe I got that on cassette and played the hell out of "Negative Creep" (try that song in your workout mix).

Damn, listen to "Sliver." That's the track where Cobain's empathy and his ability to craft a set of lyrics around someone else's story became his strength. I wouldn't say it was his formula but it was definitely a new plateau for him.

Much later, I heard "All Apologies" off of In Utero and turned to a friend. "I don't think he's going to be around much longer." It sounded like a suicide note or the foreshadowing to some dreadful accident.

Finally, I was driving a hundred miles home at three in the morning, trying to stay awake, radio blaring, when the DJ came on to announce the news. I pulled onto the shoulder, got out of the car, stood there for a while not believing it, then got back in. I did not have trouble staying awake for the rest of the drive home.
posted by adipocere at 9:33 AM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


That Kathleen Hanna video is awesome, especially the story. Seriously!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:34 AM on April 6, 2011


It was really the Kathleen Hanna video that got me - and the sheer oddness of the Jared Leto tribute. It probably wasn't very clever to post this when most people were at work.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:38 AM on April 6, 2011


They were my punk rock, they made me question everything, they made me smarter.

Same here, and I was 18 when Nevermind came out.

People sometimes forget just how hard it was, before the internet, to access unconventional culture, particularly if you didn't live in a major city. I was in high school in northern Ontario in the early 1990s, and other than these mix tapes my friend's older collegiate neighbour made for him that had some Dead Kennedys and Dead Milkmen and stuff like that on 'em, we were completely out of the loop. You'd catch a Sonic Youth video on the MuchMusic "alternative" show, go down to the crappy little record store at the mall, go to the "S" section - nothing. I remember it being flat-out miraculous to find the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Mother's Milk album in one of those stores.

After Nevermind? Before long, there was a whole section in those stores stocking this kind of stuff. Also, Cobain was a namedropping goldmine - I'd read an interview with him, write down the names of every band he referenced, and then go on a shopping spree next time I was in Toronto. That's how I discovered Fugazi, the Meat Puppets, the Vaselines, L7, the Pixies. Basically uncovered the trail that would, by '93, lead me to quit a business degree and do something I actually gave a shit about with my life.

Discovering Nirvana at the age of 18 changed the basic course of my life. I'll always have Kurt Cobain to thank for that. Wish he was still around to hear it.
posted by gompa at 9:39 AM on April 6, 2011 [36 favorites]


Nirvana was to grunge rock as the Beatles were to '60s rock, or as Mozart was to the Classical style, or as Bach was to Baroque. They didn't invent their style. They perfected it. You don't become the definitive reference point for a whole genre just at random.

Kurt Cobain was the first to admit that he mostly ripped off a lot of other bands to make Nirvana's music. I'm so glad he did.
posted by John Cohen at 9:39 AM on April 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


Frowner: What ever happened to all that "Courtney killed Kurt" stuff that was going around back then anyway?
The DNA evidence ended up incriminating Shannon Kringen.
posted by hincandenza at 9:40 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


After Nevermind? Before long, there was a whole section in those stores stocking this kind of stuff. Also, Cobain was a namedropping goldmine - I'd read an interview with him, write down the names of every band he referenced, and then go on a shopping spree next time I was in Toronto. That's how I discovered Fugazi, the Meat Puppets, the Vaselines, L7, the Pixies. Basically uncovered the trail that would, by '93, lead me to quit a business degree and do something I actually gave a shit about with my life.

Not just a namedropper--a lot of that stuff was rereleased because he talked about them. The Raincoats, frex.
posted by Frowner at 9:41 AM on April 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


I do think that Nirvana's success was out of all proportion to what they actually did. Not that they weren't great - they were fantastic. But not necessarily greater than some of their immediate contemporaries. Give or take a few hindsight career evaluations, Nirvana were not really in any appreciable way either better or more marketable than, say, Sonic Youth or Dinorsaur Jr or the Pixies at that time. But it's unfortunate that Nirvana's success (along with Kurt's suicide) has permanently tiltled the conversation about them towards this kind of navelgazing about "whether they were really all that important", or whether Kurt was a whiny narcissist or any of that. We don't have those kinds of conversations about Black Francis, or Thurston Moore or Mascis or people like that, where one is expected to justify their existence or career to that level. There's so little appreciation for Nirvana's actual music in it's proper context. At the very least evaluating whether Cobain was a better "voice of a generation" than the fucking guy from the Offspring or whatever seems horribly wrongheaded to me and to have completely accepted at face value certain bullshit media narratives that I, for one, can thank Nirvana for innoculating me against as a teenager.
posted by anazgnos at 9:41 AM on April 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


utsutsu: I never had any friends albums later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?

I think that's due to the changes going on in the lives of (pre)teens. Transitional music for transitional years. Emotional music speaks the loudest to you when you're emotional.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:42 AM on April 6, 2011


I was 6 when Cobain died. I was 10 when my friends started to listen to Nirvana. They would put it on and we'd all jump around and have a great time and then play video games.

It was really, really weird to discover that he'd been dead for years.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:43 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I remember his death made the 9 O'Clock News on channel one, which was a Big Deal in England. I think it was the first time I saw that happen for somebody so young and so seemingly ephemeral. Later channel four (I think) broadcast their MTV Unplugged session, which was brilliant and poignant.

I still wonder what Nirvana would sound like today if Kurt hadn't died. In Utero showed a lot of growth since the Bleach era.

I have to admit that a lot of their music now sounds dated to me, but In Utero is something else.
posted by Jehan at 9:44 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It was really, really weird to discover that he'd been dead for years.

Yeah, just wait until you find out about Patsy Cline.
posted by The World Famous at 9:44 AM on April 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Dexter Holland or Billy Corgan were far better voices of the generation.

And this? Dear lord. This is like saying Herman's Hermits and Donovan were better voices of the '60s era because their lyrics were less oblique than Lennon's.

I mean, I'm pretty sure even Dexter Holland never took the Offspring's lyrics seriously. And Corgan? Well, Siamese Dream was a solid album, and "1979" is a strong contender for best pop song of the grunge era, but the best thing that could've happened to 3/4 of Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness would've been a little less coherence. Starting with the title.
posted by gompa at 9:45 AM on April 6, 2011 [12 favorites]


The media painted the guy as a voice of a generation and that was maybe the last thing he ever wanted to be. There was no such thing as grunge; there was no Seattle sound. Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam were completely different musically but there was product to sell so who cares. The product was a lifestyle; you were told that you were misunderstood, that grunge was the new thing, the new thing you would like.

Well hey, said we, you can call this whatever you want, you can flog whatever product you want, just keep giving these bands airplay.

Because it was your music. It wasn't the shitty hair-metal your older sibling(s) loved. It sure as shit wasn't your parents' music. It was your music, on your stereo with stickers on it, and you were in a world where no one really seemed to see things the way you did because that's what being a kid is, and there was this stuff and it was yours.

There's always the question of what narrative to sell to us. In Cobain's case it was a romantic young death, the passing into rock legend of another member of the 27 club. None of the eulogizers on the radio wanted to admit that this wasn't a tortured-artist sort of thing but the end result of taking a guy who's got a lot of problems and some serious concerns about fame and just holding him under a magnifying glass all the time.

But that's his story. What made his music so appealing was that sometimes it sounded like your story, too. As adults it's easy to look at angsty kids and think how over-the-top it all is, how every minor sadness is a torrent of howling rage. But they're kids, and the world isn't worse off for letting them be kids for a while. Every adult who saw kids listening to Nirvana and thinking this was depressing, angsty shit is someone who didn't quite grasp that there is nothing more useful to show a teenager than that they are not alone.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:47 AM on April 6, 2011 [12 favorites]


I was 6 when Cobain died

GET OFF MY LAWN
posted by desjardins at 9:47 AM on April 6, 2011 [14 favorites]


I learned of Cobain's death while watching TV at a friend's house; someone else ran into the living room and exclaimed "Morrissey died!"
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:47 AM on April 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Corgan seems like he should be in prison for doing something cruel to animals or children.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:49 AM on April 6, 2011


I mean, the voice of what generation? Who?

People I knew who listened really seriously to Nirvana:

1. White alterna-suburbanites for whom Nirvana was the first non-radio-pop they could really access. (How I first heard Nevermind, in fact.)

2. Younger white kids to whom Nirvana really spoke.

Nirvana always seemed like this really middle/lower-middle class white suburban phenomenon to me. That's where I'm from; I don't mean that in a pejorative way. Not overtly political, not really about an established community/scene (like punk; odd, given that Cobain was really rooted in that whole Seattle/subpop thing); not especially about romance; not about material goods...I think I never really found them interesting because they didn't seem to have an analysis, you know. Riot grrrl had an analysis; the Clash had an analysis; Nirvana just had emotion and depression. I already had those on my own.
posted by Frowner at 9:51 AM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


anazgnos: Give or take a few hindsight career evaluations, Nirvana were not really in any appreciable way either better or more marketable than, say, Sonic Youth or Dinorsaur Jr or the Pixies at that time.

My first counter was going to be "but Kurt was younger than those guys," but he wasn't that much younger. Cobain was born in 1967, Stephen Malkmus (of Pavement) in '66, Black Francis and J Mascis in '65. Sonic Youth were the oldies of the bunch - Thurston was born in 1958, and Kim Gordon in '53!

But I think it was about the energy - Nirvana had more raw emotion on display. The sound was less refined than the contemporaries anazgnos listed, and even Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, they seem to have less of the raw punk-like energy on display.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:51 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't dislike Nirvana, but you had a generational cohort that was the most diverse in American history to that point, exceeded only by its children. The music industry certainly was fragmenting at the time as well. And it was blindingly obvious that Cobain didn't want that worship. He was just a guy, in a band, in a community of people he deeply respected and felt should be listened to.

For that matter, I don't think the Baby Boom was all about the Beatles either, although nostalgia for them certainly seems to be a big industry.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:52 AM on April 6, 2011


Okay, I know this is sacrilegious, and I'm basically pissing all over your adolescence by saying this, but ... why did we care so much about Kurt Cobain's death?

I mean, seriously. It's not like the guy was John Lennon. He didn't really stand for anything. We have no reason to believe that he cared about us, or the world. Do we have any proof that he cared for anything but himself? Dude straight-up iced himself and left his baby daughter to be raised by a psychotic junkie. Smooth move, asshole.

Seriously. I mean, yeah, he was in a good band. Yeah, Nirvana was important because they saved us from Def Leppard or whatever, blah blah blah blah blah. Yeah, I listened to them, too. But why was his death supposed to be such a tragic loss? Because he wrote good songs? Because he typified the media-created stereotype of fuckoff generation-x slackers? Because he was depressed, just like we were in 9th grade?

I mean, yeah, sure, I was bummed out at the time, too, because yeah, no more Nirvana albums, and yeah, that kinda sucked. But as a generation-defining moment, I can't help but think that we could have done better.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:55 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had very mixed feelings about Nirvana. I listened to Bleach when it came out until the record was basically worn out. But my love for it was that it was a nice punky rock album, I never thought it was groundbreaking. I liked Nevermind, but it never grabbed me the way it did others. Part of this was that I saw Nirvana as part of a scene I was already very familiar with, and not necessarily the best part of that scene. I thought Bikini Kill were much more interesting, and although their music was less "hard," Beat Happening was weirder and more fun. I'll admit that among my friends and me there was not a little resentment at having the music we loved defined for us by a bunch of people who hadn't given a shit two months before. The persistent occlusion of Bleach was a perfect example of the bullshit that seemed to be at the heart of it. (Which is not to say it was a better album, but it was certainly the earlier album.)

But there was something about Nirvana that captured the collective imagination. The description upthread of being introduced to so much new through them is magical. I've always liked what I heard Perry Ferrell said when he heard Kurt was dead. Something to the effect of, "I had no idea he was having such a rough time. I wish he'd called me. We would have gone on vacation. That's what all the money is for, man, to get away from that shit. You don't have to kill yourself."
posted by OmieWise at 9:55 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


The rental that we called the Hell House, spring of sophomore year of college, kinda sorta starting to pull myself out of the disastrous depressing winter. I think I came home from class to find my (much older) housemate and my boyfriend (high school sweetheart) listening to The End (radio station) playing the MTV Unplugged performance. Housemate was more busted up than I would have expected, given that he was more of a rave guy. Was never especially "into" Nirvana, and honestly have always been way behind the curve when it comes to popular music. But it just seemed like One. More. Damn. Thing. that went sideways in 93-94.
posted by epersonae at 9:55 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nirvana was a really good band. I was pretty cynical about Cobain's death at the time and I was mostly listening to 1977 punk rock then. I have trouble listening to a lot of the tracks (most of Nevermind, really) now because they've been played so heavily that they just sound like radio. That said, their status as "voice of a generation" is the relic of a music industry trying to wrap their heads & hands around an alternative rock overthrow that was happening anyway.
posted by furiousthought at 9:56 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean, the voice of what generation? Who?

People I knew who listened really seriously to Nirvana:


1. Kids who'd never heard Sonic Youth or Dinosaur Jr. before

2. People that only started watching MTV in the 90s

For me, I'm turning up Bug, right now.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:56 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


In my opinion, the man had a great ear for melody and accompaniment. Taken by themselves, the three and four chord arrangements seem too simple to be good, but add the vocal melodies over top and you've got something great. Plus Grohl was a great heavy rock drummer.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:58 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Things learned from Nirvana:

a) Kurt had a a helluva knack for turning discordant/"angry growl" bits into charming hits
b) Dave Grohl proved the devil exists. He did this by selling his soul to the devil. He absolutely did. I will not accept another answer. Contrast Dave Grohl drumming on Lithium and Foo Fighters "I'll be home coming home next year". See?
c) Krist Novoselic. Bass Toss. MTV 1992 Awards.
posted by cavalier at 9:58 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Every generation needs something like that, for me it was The Clash and The Sex Pistols.

I lived through that era but got to punk rock rather later, when I was quite old, around the same time I discovered Iggy Pop properly - around the time that Nirvana was popular, in fact.

There are two ways to evaluate music. One is based on the emotional or taste values that it has for you personally, which is of course subjective. Another is to look at its musical value, which has at least some degree of objectivity to it - at least, musicians cross culture seem to have a pretty high degree of agreement as to the topic of musical value.

Thing is that, say, The Clash and the Sex Pistols (or for that matter Iggy) blow Nirvana away musically.

Unfortunately, Nirvana songs are mostly the same - the guitar and the bass play very similar parts about an octave away, and the B section is the A section, played more loudly. Drums are generic "heavy rock drumming" - not much to say. Cobain's voice is very hard to make out, mainly because he doesn't project well as a singer and mumbles, but also because the arrangements don't give any particular space to the lyrics. The tunes are all 4/4, all in a limited vocal range with limited vocal jumps and a limited set of rhythm patterns.

The Sex Pistols aren't the world's most musically fancy band (though it helps that Glen Matlock is playing on the albums) but damn, does Johnny Rotten's voice cut, and boy, those songs are still offensive years later (and I didn't even know them at the time!)

But the Clash were a musically astonishing group, with the album Sandinista! alone expressing a far greater range of musical ideas than appear in all the Nirvana albums I've heard - top notch songs in punk, funk, "traditional", electronic, dub, "tropical"...

As for the emotional/aesthetic thing, well, Nirvana never hit a sweet spot for me - it just seemed very regular music, and the "ironic" thing didn't really excite me. At the time, I was a huge Butthole Surfers fan - still am, really - and Nirvana seemed to be watered-down hardcore music... still does.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:58 AM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Whenever I hear or read about Kurt Cobain, I'm reminded of Breakfast of Champions and the idea that bad chemicals and bad ideas are the yin and yang of madness.
posted by The World Famous at 9:58 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


He didn't really stand for anything. We have no reason to believe that he cared about us, or the world.

One of the first times I ever saw Cobain outside a music video, he was on MTV's Headbanger's Ball. He bounded on set in a flamboyant yellow dress. Tore down a generation of he-man cock rock and a whole culture of macho misogyny without saying a word. Cobain was vocally pro-life and pro-feminist, pro-homo to the point of basically saying he kind of wished he was gay, and generally used every opportunity given to him to denounce corporate control of the media and culture, advocate for the weird and unconventional, and tell his fans it was just fine to question authority and assert their individuality.

I mean, what more did you expect from a punk rocker? Policy positions?
posted by gompa at 10:00 AM on April 6, 2011 [71 favorites]


I always figured that success was what basically went wrong for both Cobain and Love--they were born to be well-known local rockers, the kind of people who still get pointed out at the bar when they're 45 and still play the occasional benefit show at the best bar venue in town when they're in their fifties, the kind of people who are sort of fucked-up drunks but who have enough local people around them to keep them sane and functioning.

I forget which documentary about Kurt that had recordings he made, more honest than the interviews, and talked to friends of his. Basically it came down to the fact that he kept going on about how he didn't want the fame, success, money, mansion, etc. and he kept going on about how stupid and pathetic heroin users are, when he was a huge one too. I wanted to reach into the grave and retroactively beat the crap out of him. It's simple to not have the success and money and such, just quit doing it. Most people spend their entire lives trying to just make it day by day, to reach the level of Nirvana, in whatever career you choose, is about the same odds as winning the lottery.

I get the fact that he probably had depression, and that complicates things (from first hand knowledge), but it made me lose so much respect for him, he got to do what he loved, and got paid well for it, then complained about it. I'm just glad the rest of the band seemed to succeed without him.

Also, this makes me feel old, i was like 24 when it happened. :P
posted by usagizero at 10:00 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


the only track from NEVERMIND that I've never really gotten tired of. Interesting that it's the closest thing on it to Husker Du.
posted by philip-random at 10:02 AM on April 6, 2011


Wasn't a fan personally, and he redirected music from some paths I thought were more interesting -- but it was easy to see that there was a lot of talent there, and that there was a generational gravitas to him that no-one else even approached.

I remember that everyone seemed to be on a death watch for him at the time (an incident in Rome? Do I remember that?), and when it finally came, the news was simply a confirmation of what was expected for a while.

I've grown to respect him more since then, but -- just not my thing.
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:04 AM on April 6, 2011


And I've mentioned these before, but my weirdest experiences with fans of Nirvana post Cobain were in a posh neighborhood in suburban California, and an internet cafe in Cusco, Peru.

I was in middle school, hanging out at a friend's house when I heard the news that Cobain was dead, and it didn't really impact me too much. It was shocking, but I wasn't really that into Nirvana at the time. A few years later, I went to pick up my younger brother from his friend's house. That kid would be the valedictorian of his high school class, but he was obsessed with Nirvana bootlegs. Next to his computer were stacks of CDrs he traded, from shows that happened when he was between 6 and 10 years old, most likely. I never asked him what his fixation was with Nirvana, but I'm still intrigued.

A couple years later, I was with my family, traveling in Peru. While in Cusco, my brother and I went to internet cafes to get our fix of socializing with friends back home. One of these little 'net cafes was above a camera shop, and it was called the Nirvana something or other. Nirvana, like free from suffering or whatnot, we figured. Cool, let's go. No, it was Nirvana, like the band. Like conspiracy theories that Courtney had Kurt killed (theories like this were posted above the computers, and there was a giant poster of Sad Kurt on one wall). The primary overseer there was a girl who was probably younger than either of us, maybe in her late teens, and she always wore black, and we figured this was her place. It was kind of surreal.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:05 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


they seem to have less of the raw punk-like energy on display.

I think that's valid. When I think back to how seeing them smash up instruments on TV made me feel, it was this simultaneous total irreverance and total commitment. They could be hilarious and scary intense seeming at the same time.

In a weird way the comparison that pops up in my mind is Monty Python: it's great comedy, but in a lot of ways they were destroying comedy. It's great TV that's openly contemptuous of TV. Nirvana were kind of like that too.
posted by anazgnos at 10:07 AM on April 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


I forget which documentary about Kurt that had recordings he made, more honest than the interviews, and talked to friends of his. Basically it came down to the fact that he kept going on about how he didn't want the fame, success, money, mansion, etc. and he kept going on about how stupid and pathetic heroin users are, when he was a huge one too.

I dunno, it's really hard to avoid selling out. I say this as one who has sold out by getting a regular job with benefits when I could have toughed it out in the nonprofit organizing sector. I always figured that they just got swept up in events and then found out that you can't really square the circle and have both your punk rock community and success, and that the community was really more important for survival. Seriously, everyone made so much fun of that band and the whole "Seattle" thing. It must have really sucked to go from the whole fanzines/shows/punk houses/knowing-everyone scene to having all those people think you're just a big joke.
posted by Frowner at 10:07 AM on April 6, 2011


Robert Christgau likes Nirvana a lot more than I do (and I'm a lot closer to Christgau's age than Cobain's) but I generally respect Christgau's opinions:
Nevermind: This is hard rock as the term was understood before metal moved in--the kind of loud, slovenly, tuneful music you think no one will ever work a change on again until the next time it happens, whereupon you wonder why there isn't loads more. It seems so simple.
[On MTV Unplugged, Cobain's] secret is sincerity, boring though that may be--he cares less than [Lou] Barlow without boasting a bit about it, tries harder than [Eddie] Vedder without busting a gut about it. The vocal performance he evokes is John Lennon's on Plastic Ono Band. And he did it in one take.
1994 Artistic Statement of the Year
The artist of the year made only one significant statement in 1994: he killed himself. Life sucks, he howled, and we all got depressed and made sad little noises with our tongues, as good living beings must. . . . Cobain's death forces us to reexamine the small body of work he had already achieved, to relisten obsessively to his MTV Unplugged one-off and God knows what forthcoming detritus, and to conclude that he had more to tell us than any but the rarest rock and rollers. The joy of his music was its triumph over his own pain. The message of his death is that music isn't triumph enough on a mortal coil that's been getting harder ever since Kurt Cobain was born.
Nevermore: What Kurt Cobain did for rock and roll
Taken as a unit, Nirvana's albums are living proof of the subtlety and variety of what conventional musicology still regards as a crude, undeveloped genre.
OK, but then:
He was gifted in the visual arts, where he was encouraged by a paternal grandmother whose hobby was carving Norman Rockwell images on the caps of mushrooms with toothpicks. . .

What?

Following up on this we find, in Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain By Charles R. Cross:
Kurt was encouraged in art by his paternal grandmother, Iris Cobain. She was a collector of Norman Rockwell memorabilia in the form of Franklin Mint plates with Saturday Evening Post illustrations on them. . . Iris even convinced [sic] Kurt to join her in a favorite craft: using toothpicks to carve crude reproductions of Rockwell's images onto the top of freshly picked fungi. When these oversized mushrooms would dry, the toothpick scratching would remain, like backwoods scrimshaw.
posted by Herodios at 10:08 AM on April 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


He bounded on set in a flamboyant yellow dress. Tore down a generation of he-man cock rock and a whole culture of macho misogyny without saying a word.

God, exactly. Exactly what I was trying to get at.
posted by anazgnos at 10:09 AM on April 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


Krist Novoselic. Bass Toss. MTV 1992 Awards.

this.

that moment, more than anything, concisely defines nirvana for me - its members, its talent, its contribution, its legacy.

bonk.

thud.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 10:09 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hey Nevermind was a great moment of pop music. Manufactured sure, but hell, isn't everything that appears in the mainstream?

I find Cobain/Nirvana Inc. interesting because I was listening to underground punk/crossover/hardcore stuff in high school and playing in bands in the community run punk clubs in Dallas. Then came this one moment where the underground and the mainstream converged FOR ONE FREAKING song (it was really that good though, honest!) but it was a one night stand for me and everyone else I knew at the time.

After that mainstream MTV culture slowly dived into irrelevancy and Pavement was out there introducing the world to "Slanted and Enchanted". I plugged into a new underground stream, turned off the radio and never looked back. Well, occasionally, if only to be amazed at how out of touch and awful grunge (and everything else, for that matter) became.

All that aside, I really don't understand how Kurt Cobain became such an iconic figure for so many. If you ask me who the most influential band from that era is, I would suggest Bedhead, but then again I'm an aging hipster prone to nostalgia, so don't trust a damn thing I say.
posted by roboton666 at 10:09 AM on April 6, 2011


I liked the snarky English music magazine headline which asked: WHY COULDN'T IT HAVE BEEN EDDIE VEDDER?
posted by goethean at 10:11 AM on April 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was 13, and didn't really care about music yet. I remember that they had a whole episode about Kurt on Channel One, with lots of clips of teenagers crying and saying how important he was.

It was funny to me, or at least I outwardly projected that it was funny to me, because that's how I wanted people to see me. Two years later, when The Muddy Banks of the Wishkah came out, I understood.

Now I'm 30, and I've kind of been on a Nirvana kick, probably because I'm 30. I wish I'd have heard this stuff as a 13-year-old.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:13 AM on April 6, 2011


a paternal grandmother whose hobby was carving Norman Rockwell images on the caps of mushrooms with toothpicks.

I'm sorry but That. Is. Awesome.
posted by desjardins at 10:13 AM on April 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


I love that Krist Novoselic is a politics nerd now. (See also: FairVote.org)
posted by epersonae at 10:14 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


My older sister came in to the store where I cashiered and told me, but I don't think she came in just to tell me. She started out with, "You're gonna be sad; guess who is dead?" She was also the one who told me that libido is "sex drive" when I was singing along to (I knew that already, I was 15!). She didn't care for them but aside from that she's cool.

Hating on elements of popular culture is nothing new and it's pretty easy to do. It doesn't bother me when someone doesn't like the same thing as I do or likes something I hate. Resorting to personal insults over what people like is bothersome, though. I heard Sonic Youth and I still listened "seriously" to Nirvana. If you look down on me because of that, I think you're missing the point of music all together. Who you listen to is not something to be proud or ashamed of, it's just who you listen to.
posted by soelo at 10:14 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


why did we care so much about Kurt Cobain's death?

Kurt Cobain was our generation's Martin Luther King.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:16 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was an angst-y little, indie-loving teen with horrible parents and a white-hot internal rage. When I first heard 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' over the car stereo, I had to pull over on the side of the road; I couldn't think straight, I almost couldn't breath. It was like the anger inside me had finally formed a mind of it's own and gone about hijacking a radio station. I immediately went out and bought every Nirvana recording I could get my hands on.

My high school sweetheart (now my wife) and I would sit upstairs in her room, as her horrible parents milled around downstairs, and listen to Kurt preach to us about a world we thought nobody else saw. It was comforting to know someone else felt as disillusioned with everything as we both did and listening to his songs was like twisting the pressure release valve on years of built up mental anguish.

And then he died and I haven't listened to Nirvana since. It's just too painful, too powerful. Sure, it's all so cliche'. But then again, everything is...and Kurt taught us that too.
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 10:17 AM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Kurt Cobain: He had golden hair, was a lover of kittehs, had a caramel voice and a complete lack of punk rock pretension. He was awesome and deserved all the fame he got. This is my favorite Nirvana performance.
posted by MXJ1983 at 10:21 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dear Kurt,
Thanks for
being one of the many musicians during your time that helped with killing hair metal.

Love,

T10oRF
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:22 AM on April 6, 2011


bonk.

thud.


Don't forget the ass kick from Kurt to finish him off.
posted by lubujackson at 10:24 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


But I was 18 when Smells like Teen spirit debuted, and hell, I campaigned for Perot that year.

Funny. I was 19 (in fall 1991). 1992 was the last time I ever voted for a Democrat for president.

I mean, they were a decent post-punk band with unintelligible lyrics.

Change "decent" to "MOST EXCELLENT" and you're getting there.

Cobain was a mumbling incoherent rambling.

"What else should I be?"

Fall/winter of 1992-1993 with Incesticide and my best friends. Cow Palace, 1993.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:32 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Graffiti tag seen recently in Seattle:

WHAT IF KURT GAVE UP?
posted by loquacious at 10:33 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Kurt Cobain was our generation's Martin Luther King.

I wish so much that that wasn't true. But it is.

Our generation sucks.
posted by The World Famous at 10:34 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kurt Cobain was our generation's Martin Luther King.

that explains so much.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 10:34 AM on April 6, 2011


Kurt Cobain was our generation's Martin Luther King.

This is the kind of comparison that really gets under my skin. I'd say the only thing in the same ballpark is Rodney King and James Byrd, Jr., violent incidents that highlighted just how far we still need to go in order to deal with racial prejudice in the United States. But that's the outfield. MLK is my MLK. Cobain is more analogous to Sylvia Plath or Jim Morrison.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:36 AM on April 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Krist Novoselic. Bass Toss. MTV 1992 Awards.

this.

that moment, more than anything, concisely defines nirvana for me - its members, its talent, its contribution, its legacy.

bonk.

thud.


The aforementioned Cow Palace show ended with Kurt taking a swan dive from a speaker into the drums just as Dave jumped out of the way. Yes, that stuff certainly screams "The Year Punk Broke."

Hey, here it is. If you don't want to watch the whole (awesome) video, the jump happens at ... 5:25 (Krist throws his bass up and actually catches it that time.)
posted by mrgrimm at 10:37 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


mrgrimm: I was at the show, too! Loved the walk across the amps and the dive into the drum set at the end.

also: successful troll is successful.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:37 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also the very first time I ever heard Nirvana was during the band change (it was I think it was Pantara) and they started playing "Breed" off Nevermind.

I was blown away. Then I said to the guy I was with...WHO. THE. HELL. IS. THIS? I needed to know, and now!
posted by ShawnString at 10:38 AM on April 6, 2011


Ah, well, whatever you think of Nirvana, they gave us, amongst many other things, some entertaining TV moments - like this performance on the Jonathan Ross show. Early 90's pop culture clash in a nutshell - also featuring padded shoulders!

(Let padded shoulders please rest forever in peace, amen. I can deal with Jared Leto doing Kurt Cobain MAYBE - haven't clicked on that link - but not with a revival of padded shoulders!)
posted by bitteschoen at 10:38 AM on April 6, 2011


yeah, Cobain, Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin. I don't think any of them get compared to MLK. Not really the same sphere of influence.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:38 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


kozad: I'm mostly a jazz pianist, but I play "Lithium" sometimes.

Have you heard Maxence Cyrin's piano version? Not quite as stunning as his cover of Where is My Mind? but still really beautiful.

I've sometimes wished someone would do an instrumental piano cover of "Smells like Teen Spirit." Not all gentle-fied like Cyrin or Tori Amos, but fast and intense like the song itself, like early Ben Folds beating the crap out of the piano like it's a percussion instrument.
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 10:40 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heh. I love MeFi challops threads. "No, really, it was the 'Pretty Fly for a White Guy!' He was the voice of my generation!" Give it to me, baby!

Or the argument that there are cross-cultural objective standards for musical value.

Nirvana was a pretty good hard rock band. They did not kill hair metal, though they were an "alternative" to it at the time. There's this idea of revisionism where Nirvana saved us from all the Queensryche (also from Seattle), but Nevermind replaced Michael Jackson on the charts, not Guns 'n' Roses, or even Def Leppard, who made it to the top of the charts a year later.

My father was the one who bought Nevermind the week it came out, though I played it pretty nonstop. My buddy Peter B. got a copy of Bleach and Incesticide, and my other pal Jon Andrews gave me a tape of Nirvana's appearance at the Blind Pig, our local rock club. It was a big deal, and it catalyzed a lot of listening for us — Nirvana did lead us to the Pixes, to L7, to Sonic Youth and even Tad and Mog Stunt Team and Gravitar and any number of other also rans. I was always more of a Soundgarden head (love me that Kim Thayal bass), but Nirvana was right in there too.

More than that, Nirvana was a big part of how I first got into the internet. I was on an AOL message board for Nirvana from about my sophomore year of high school, and when I graduated, I ended up going on a road trip with a buddy and crashing at all these people's houses across the country, all folks I knew from the internet. I'm still friends with one of the women from that board, and she was on my scavenger hunt team here in LA (though that was the first time we'd ever met, since she was out of town when I was on my road trip). That message board had a real regular kinship, and got me into bands like The Replacements. It was also where I met my first openly gay friend, somebody from Apache Junction, Arizona, who came out because Kurt Cobain was openly gay friendly. I hope he's doing well — I still have the cactus he gave me, back at my parents house because it's too big to move.

I do remember where I heard about Cobain's death — on the bus from one high school to the other. Cobain had been missing for a while, and when he was finally found, it wasn't a huge surprise that he was dead and that he'd shot himself. It was a shame, but I had never really felt any personal connection to him — I'm still pissed that I studied for a midterm rather than going to see Nirvana play Cobo on their Heart Shaped Box tour. It did blow up on the message board, and for a while, I was the go-to guy for debunking the Courtney-Killed-Kurt bullshit, especially the stuff from Tom Grant.

I'm glad Nirvana made their music. It's a shame he killed himself. All the other shit? Meh.
posted by klangklangston at 10:41 AM on April 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


Well, I had just turned 14, I was a music nerd, and I was practicing on my drums or on my keyboard when my dad walked in and was all, "Did you hear??? Kurt Cobain is dead he killed himself!" I turned my head and said.. "Hmm, so??" and went back to practicing.....yeah, I guess I never fell for Nirvana.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:41 AM on April 6, 2011


Geez, make me feel old, why don't you.

I dunno, their music was (and still is) really distinctive -- when you hear it on the oldies station, you never have to wonder if it is really Nirvana.

But it never rocked my world like the Clash, the Buzzcocks, or (going older) Joy Division did. And they were part of that whole Subpop scene that just sounded derivative and bland to me, which also colored things for me.
posted by Forktine at 10:42 AM on April 6, 2011


I'd take d. boon back way before I'd bring Kurt back. Now there was a rocknroll death that still pisses me off.
posted by argybarg at 10:44 AM on April 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


I was at the house a lot during that time, delivering flowers to Courtney for one reason or another. I had no idea who anybody there was. They were always nice enough, chatting with me, bumming a smoke or a ride here or there. It was only that week, seventeen years ago, when Courtney was getting a bunch of flower deliveries from celebrities congratulating her on her new album, that I started to realize that the grungey kids at the nice house in the nice neighborhood weren't just your run-of-the-mill rich kids whose parents were Boeing executives.

One day I was coming up the driveway and saw the shaggy-headed blonde guy walking into the garage. I knocked on the front door of the house to get a signature for the delivery, didn't get an answer, then knocked on the door to the garage and didn't get an answer there either. I thought that was a little strange, but I figured he was probably upstairs and either didn't hear me or didn't want to be bothered, so I left the flowers on the porch and went on my way. A couple days later I had literally vanloads of sympathy flowers to deliver to Courtney, the driveway had been fenced off and a security guy took the flowers from me there at the gate, the road was packed with cars, and the park next door was full of mourning kids. That's when I realized what a big deal these friendly rich kids were.

It was probably another ten years before I could be bothered to care about Nirvana or their music, but I have come to appreciate and actually enjoy some of it. I'm still a little surprised every time I hear how important it is/was to so many people, but probably no more surprised as the people I tell that story to, when they realize how completely oblivious I was to what maybe should have been a big deal to me.
posted by Balonious Assault at 10:45 AM on April 6, 2011 [28 favorites]


I was blown away. Then I said to the guy I was with...WHO. THE. HELL. IS. THIS? I needed to know, and now!

That's the effect that I don't think anyone can discount. All over the U.S. (the world?), everyone age 13-22 was pretty much saying the same thing the first time they heard Bleach or Nevermind.

(Less than) Two years before Nevermind, U Can't Touch This, Another Day in Paradise, Vision of Love, and Jude Cole were dominating the pop charts.

Apres Nirvana (particularly Nevermind), the alternative deluge. Phil Collins was never the same again.

it was the 'Pretty Fly for a White Guy!'

Shake It Like a White Girl
posted by mrgrimm at 10:46 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was always more of a Soundgarden head (love me that Kim Thayal bass)

You just made a pretty significant error, there.
posted by anazgnos at 10:47 AM on April 6, 2011


People sometimes forget just how hard it was, before the internet, to access unconventional culture, particularly if you didn't live in a major city.

Yes. People bragging about how they were hep before Nirvana came around are missing the point: Dinosaur Jr. and the Pixies couldn't change the record store selections at the Musicland in Springfield Missouri. Nirvana did. Kurt Cobain was the "cool older brother" for a large slice of America, opening our eyes in a way less popular bands couldn't to the awesome shit that was out there. That's more important to me than the music (I do listen to Badmotorfinger more than any Nirvana album).

I've said this before, but I wrote the worst poem in the world the night Kurt Cobain killed himself.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:53 AM on April 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


Then came this one moment where the underground and the mainstream converged FOR ONE FREAKING song (it was really that good though, honest!) but it was a one night stand for me and everyone else I knew at the time.

Well, as a friend of mine put it recently, it's not a good thing when the underground suddenly isn't underground anymore (ie: in clear view when it should be out of sight, gestating weird juju and alchemy, maybe directly beneath your feet, but still invisible to the passerby). Or more to the point, "I worry when people start spelling Underground with a capital 'U'. Then, I know the fucking marketers have got their hands on it."

Thankfully, post-Nirvana, that hasn't happened much.
posted by philip-random at 10:54 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've sometimes wished someone would do an instrumental piano cover of "Smells like Teen Spirit."

Anyamatopoeia: Heard The Bad Plus?

Here they are live performing "Smells like Teen Spirit" .

Find the studio version on the album These Are the Vistas.
posted by Herodios at 10:57 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was lucky enough to see them in Summer 1991 before Nevermind hit the streets, warming up for Dinosaur Jr. (the crappy Dino lineup with no Lou or Murph) in Sacramento. Nirvana blew Dino off the stage with a set of soon-to-be classic tunes. It was sofa king great.
posted by porn in the woods at 10:57 AM on April 6, 2011


I'd like to see a band get right up to the point where they're about to smash their instruments and then stop and instead give the instruments to kids who want to play but can't afford decent gear. But I'm a square.

I never really got why people like watching rich people break expensive things. When Kurt Cobain smashed old Fender Jaguars and Mesa Boogie tube amps, it just pissed me off.
posted by The World Famous at 11:00 AM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you ask me who the most influential band from that era is, I would suggest Bedhead

I might suggest Public Enemy.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:01 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


123 comments, not a single


.


Continue to rest in peace, grungy talented musician junkie pioneer...
posted by rodmandirect at 11:03 AM on April 6, 2011


re: breaking things - mr epersonae worked custodial (student housing) while going to Evergreen State College sometime around 1990, and he had nothing but bad things to say about cleaning up after band parties (including IIRC early Nirvana) in the dorms.
posted by epersonae at 11:04 AM on April 6, 2011


Dexter Holland

Jesus Christ man.

Paul McCartney was asked if he could have could have been in any band other than The Beatles, which would it be. He said Nirvana. Dexter Holland won't even be a footnote in the History of White Guys with Dreadlocks let alone music.
posted by fire&wings at 11:05 AM on April 6, 2011 [10 favorites]


nothing but bad things to say about cleaning up after band parties (including IIRC early Nirvana) in the dorms

Well, yeah. I've met almost no bands for whom a band party wasn't a horrible mess except for some sincerity-core political bands.
posted by Frowner at 11:06 AM on April 6, 2011


I've said this before, but I wrote the worst poem in the world the night Kurt Cobain killed himself.

Something I jotted down maybe a month later:

"Cobain made his own decision. I'll quote someone else on this. He couldn't bear the fuckin pain. He'd taken his junkydom as far as he was willing to. Chronic stomach pain leads to opiates leads to SLAVERY, to that particular pleasure and relief -- and the sad and brutal fact that this slavery is terminal. Heroin is always the last drug a body gets into -- beyond it is only death or God (your basic acceptance of a higher power) and death, I guess, seemed less painful to the guy."

Interesting that the comment was inspired not by the initial shock of Cobain's suicide but by what had just happened, May-1-1994 in Imola, Italy.

WARNING: link possibly disturbing.
posted by philip-random at 11:07 AM on April 6, 2011


"You just made a pretty significant error, there."

Two errors! Ben Shepherd did the bass, and it's spelled Thayil.
posted by klangklangston at 11:07 AM on April 6, 2011


"Thankfully, post-Nirvana, that hasn't happened much."

"Indie" music, let me show you it.
posted by klangklangston at 11:10 AM on April 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Seeing Weird Al do "Smells Like Nirvana", prefaced with "this is respectfully dedicated to the memory of kurt cobain" the summer after kc died was as close as I got to seeing Nirvana. Pretty rad.
posted by nutate at 11:13 AM on April 6, 2011


I've sometimes wished someone would do an instrumental piano cover of "Smells like Teen Spirit." Not all gentle-fied like Cyrin or Tori Amos, but fast and intense like the song itself...

"Cmon School orchestra's across the world - get with the rock!"

Perhaps not quite the intensity you're looking for, but those kids got some moxie.

This woman is not bad either. (She also does Megadeth and Anthrax.)
posted by mrgrimm at 11:14 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Thankfully, post-Nirvana, that hasn't happened much."

I couldn't tell if that was a joke or not.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:14 AM on April 6, 2011


"Two errors! Ben Shepherd did the bass, and it's spelled Thayil."

It always makes me a little sad that Hiro Yamamoto doesn't seem to get much love. Plus, Shepherd spit on me at a show in Olympia but I guess I deserved it at the time.
posted by safetyfork at 11:17 AM on April 6, 2011


Dexter Fucking Holland? Twist the knife a little harder, would you? It's like Trent Reznor just died and someone brings up Linkin Park.
posted by 0xFCAF at 11:18 AM on April 6, 2011 [12 favorites]


As usual, SPIN Magazine totally missed the boat on Nirvana - before Nevermind, they'd received a single mention in the Singles column, where the writer questioned whether or not they were overrated (based on the split Singles Club live 7" with The Fluid). Of course, after they broke, SPIN were all like "We were here all along" and gave them ridiculous amounts of ink.

Back then, this was the same magazine who'd put Billy Idol on the cover in 1990 instead of Sonic Youth. Pretty corny.
posted by porn in the woods at 11:18 AM on April 6, 2011


Ok, I feel like a dolt for having to ask this but why is the 17th anniversary of his death so significant?
posted by symbollocks at 11:19 AM on April 6, 2011


Paul McCartney was asked if he could have could have been in any band other than The Beatles, which would it be. He said Nirvana.

Paul McCartney values fame and notoriety more than art, apparently. Surprise!
posted by The World Famous at 11:21 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


The story has been told earlier and better in this thread but here is mine:

I was 15 when I saw the video for Teen Spirit during lunch one Tuesday and, as others have said here, within 10 seconds my best friend and I were WHAT.IS.THIS.WE.NEED.THIS.WE.ARE.ALIVE! We skipped school that afternoon and drove an hour to the nearest music store to our tiny, remote town. We were the first kids around with the album and spent the next week blowing minds, 100% of the time.

I love music, all kinds, very much, but no other, before or since, has made me snap to attention and turned me on with the same immediacy. (though NiN's Broken EP came close... that faded though, thankfully)

When Kurt died I was in a tractor, working a field, still a kid. I was literally listening to Nirvana while I worked that day and upon ejecting the tape I heard, from the radio, "...body of musician Kurt Cobain was found today...". I shut down the tractor, got out, and began to walk, I sometimes feel like I am still walking to this day.
posted by Cosine at 11:23 AM on April 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


Paul McCartney was asked if he could have could have been in any band other than The Beatles, which would it be. He said Nirvana.

George Harrison said the same thing, though Kurth Cobain hadn't been born yet.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:24 AM on April 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


A few nights after Kurt's body was found, I was at a Mudhoney show in New York and Mark Arm said that Matt Lukin, their bass player, had just become a dad, and Matt came up to the mic and said "And I'm gonna be around to raise him..." and that was the only reference. I always liked Mudhoney a heck of a lot more than Nirvana.
posted by AJaffe at 11:24 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


But the Clash were a musically astonishing group, with the album Sandinista! alone expressing a far greater range of musical ideas than appear in all the Nirvana albums I've heard - top notch songs in punk, funk, "traditional", electronic, dub, "tropical"...


Perhaps in a cut and dried analytical way yes, but for a lot of us The Clash bored us fucking silly.
We knew we were supposed to afford them respect. And they had their moments.
But London Calling is one of those things you feel youre supposed to say when talking about "Important" records.
I know that Im not the only Gen-Xer who felt that way either. Alot of us loved Buzzcocks, Pistols, their other contemporaries, but The Clash themselves were pretty much always Sacred Cow material met with a shrug.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:25 AM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Offspring may have eventually turned into drizzly shit but I stand by Ignition as a (mostly) solid album. "Kick Him When He's Down" should have been a much, much bigger hit than it was.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:25 AM on April 6, 2011


"Thankfully, post-Nirvana, that hasn't happened much."

"Indie" music, let me show you it.


Name me one so-called "Indie" band which has had remotely the same level of overground cultural impact as Nirvana and I'll happily laugh at myself.
posted by philip-random at 11:27 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


S'funny, I had lived in Seattle for nigh unto thirteen years when John Lennon died. There was a sort of memorial for him that was held at Denny Park, about a block and a half west of Denny and Westlake, and there was a score or two of people attending at the most. I was working a few blocks away and a few of us walked over. Mostly everyone stood around and looked awkward. This, at least, is my recollection.

The memorial for Cobain was held at the Seattle Center, across the Flag Pavilion courtyard and the grass around and including the Fountain. thousand.' My emotional investment in Cobain was nil but I did go, just to witness the event. Reports describe the crowd as 'a few My recollection is that it was a very few thousand. But whatever it was, it was a hella lot more people than showed up for John Lennon. Of course, now, if the latter had gotten shot in 1965, say, instead of 1980, I suspect that far more people than those who showed up for Cobain would have attended, wherever the memorial was held.

Cobain's memorial was far more orgainzed than the one for Lennon. They had a sound system. People gave out white candles in paper collars so one wouldn't burn one's hand. I still have mine. If I recall correctly, the then Courtney Love Cobain addressed the crowd and gave them heartfelt thanks.

And our own litlnemo was there, although I did not know this until just now.
posted by y2karl at 11:30 AM on April 6, 2011


We are currently out of stock
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:41 AM on April 6, 2011


SOLD OUT, as it were? eh? EH?! *nudgenudge*
posted by entropicamericana at 11:45 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


One day I was coming up the driveway and saw the shaggy-headed blonde guy walking into the garage. I knocked on the front door of the house to get a signature for the delivery, didn't get an answer, then knocked on the door to the garage and didn't get an answer there either. I thought that was a little strange, but I figured he was probably upstairs and either didn't hear me or didn't want to be bothered, so I left the flowers on the porch and went on my way. A couple days later I had literally vanloads of sympathy flowers to deliver to Courtney ...

Whoa. If this true, then you could very well have altered the course of musical history by reaching him before he entered the garage. Silly and somewhat (okay, totally) preposterous to think about, but ... do you ever wonder?

I mean that proximity to the event makes my mind boggle.

(Obligatory: Nirvana (esp. Bleach) cured me of hair metal / hard rock delusions and tuned me into a whole new world of punk indie DIY culture, etc. etc. etc.)

.

posted by joe lisboa at 11:45 AM on April 6, 2011


I mean, seriously. It's not like the guy was John Lennon.

Maybe he coulda been. Lennon died at 40.

Or more to the point, "I worry when people start spelling Underground with a capital 'U'. Then, I know the fucking marketers have got their hands on it."

"Indie" music, let me show you it.

Name me one so-called "Indie" band which has had remotely the same level of overground cultural impact as Nirvana and I'll happily laugh at myself.


I think the incongruity there is that marketers have been selling "Underground" for a long time.

It ain't a scene, it's an arms race.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:46 AM on April 6, 2011


To answer the question, yes, the music is that good, though of course Cobain's personal delivery made it something better.

Something to consider is what was going on in popular music at the time. Grunge, a term I use cautiously, was a breath of fresh air, despite smelling like old sneakers and coffee.
posted by Xoebe at 11:47 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Nirvana/Grunge era coincided with my late twenties. The idea that this was some new style of music and that Cobain was some kind of trailblazer was laughable. It was the same mix of garage, punk, and rock & roll that I'd been hearing from local bar bands for years. Someone (a marketeer, no doubt) just gave it a name and a face and told CNN about it.
posted by rocket88 at 11:54 AM on April 6, 2011


I mean, seriously. It's not like the guy was John Lennon.

Maybe he coulda been. Lennon died at 40.


When people say things like that it makes me wonder if they have any idea what Lennon's body of work consisted of compared with that of Cobain.

Name me one so-called "Indie" band which has had remotely the same level of overground cultural impact as Nirvana and I'll happily laugh at myself.

Other than the Pixies, Pavement, or Built to Spill?
posted by The World Famous at 11:59 AM on April 6, 2011


I'm learning bass right now and I just learned how to play "Come As You Are."

(Sorry, just had to throw that out there. It's a little trickier than you think, especially with smaller hands!)

I loved Nirvana -- we were just getting out of high school when they broke big. My first CD (I was a really late CD adopter) was Hole. My college roommate and his friends used to beat up Dave Grohl when he was still a total nerd. Nirvana and connected bands are just sort of weirdly entwined with my younger-self musical experience.

Also: still have the Sassy cover with Kurt and Courtney on it. I can't bear to throw it away even now.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:00 PM on April 6, 2011


The Pixies were the best.
posted by sgt.serenity at 12:02 PM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ok, I feel like a dolt for having to ask this but why is the 17th anniversary of his death so significant?

Because the people who were most affected by Nirvana were teenagers when he died. I was around seventeen when he died, and now there are seventeen-year-olds born after his death. And that's some strange shit to me.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:04 PM on April 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Name me one so-called "Indie" band which has had remotely the same level of overground cultural impact as Nirvana

No shit. Does anyone remember the haute couture all-silk "plaid flannel" shirts that hit the runways the next year? Surreal!

Before Nirvana, I'd never heard of "grunge" and had been describing the locally popular bands (Victim's Family, Primus, Mudhoney, Faith No More, etc) as "hippie punk." Having "hippie punk" hit the Top 40 was seriously weird, and at the time I preferred to pretend it wasn't happening. And anyway, I was too cool to like Nirvana because I have a knee jerk hate for things on Top 40 radio (yes, I was one of those people).

After Kurt's suicide I gained a big appreciation for them, and in particular for what gompa said better than I could:
Tore down a generation of he-man cock rock and a whole culture of macho misogyny without saying a word. Cobain was vocally pro-life and pro-feminist, pro-homo to the point of basically saying he kind of wished he was gay, and generally used every opportunity given to him to denounce corporate control of the media and culture, advocate for the weird and unconventional, and tell his fans it was just fine to question authority and assert their individuality. .
Also, I never gave Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World" its proper respect until I heard Nirvana's version.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:04 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Name me one so-called "Indie" band which has had remotely the same level of overground cultural impact as Nirvana and I'll happily laugh at myself.

I don't know what your criteria for "overground cultural impact" are, but The Fall were often cited by rockers and critics alike for their influence.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:05 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's funny that I almost never even think about Nirvana, much less listen to them anymore, because at the time they were my Big Fucking Deal band. Like, somewhere there's a box full of carefully curated vinyl records--Bleach alone on like six different colors of vinyl, interview disks, all kind of nonsense, none of which I've laid eyes on in five moves because I just really don't care, it basically exists as this heavy stupid box I keep not dealing with, regardless of the fact that I got a huge kick out of putting it all together, all those years ago.

I was alerted to the news by my boss at the record store calling to see if I was okay, and letting me know it was cool if I was late, like, if I needed any extra time to get myself together before coming in. And I was really saddened by the news and all but even still, I thought "Really? I can come in late because I might be sad about Kurt? That's so...dumb."

I was in fifteen minutes before my shift started, just like every other day. I was much sadder when Doug Hopkins from the Gin Blossoms killed himself a few months prior--I knew that guy. He wrote songs about places I walked through every day and people I'd had beers with. Even though I was still a Nirvana fan when Kurt died, he had already stopped being an ordinary person to me, and started being something else.

The Cobain murder conspiracy thing never gets old for me though. I love that shit, I'm not ashamed to say it. And for extra silly to top it off, I'm crazy about Courtney Love. I listen to Hole all the time to this day.
posted by padraigin at 12:06 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Name me one so-called "Indie" band which has had remotely the same level of overground cultural impact as Nirvana and I'll happily laugh at myself."

Heyo, shifting goalposts!

But Radiohead gets called "Indie" all the time, and they've had at least as much impact as Nirvana in terms of setting the mode for sound.

"Underground" is dead. "Indie" is the new way to move pancakes, right down to Arcade Fire's Grammy win.
posted by klangklangston at 12:11 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't know what your criteria for "overground cultural impact" are, but The Fall were often cited by rockers and critics alike for their influence.

Well, the criteria aren't that! Seriously, as entertaining as about 20% of The Fall's output is, well, first they aren't "indie" and second, no--teenagers in general have never listened to The Fall, no one can recognize Mark E. Smith on the street except a select few, no one covers Fall songs, The Fall have had zero effect on fashion, etc etc etc. And I doubt that any of this was true even when all the world was young and punk was new.
posted by Frowner at 12:13 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


When people say things like that it makes me wonder if they have any idea what Lennon's body of work consisted of compared with that of Cobain.

In terms of their gift for melody? They were both hugely talented in that area, both were largely untrained musicians who just grokked melody on an instinctual level. If you want to argue cultural impact or whatever, that's different and not really related to the actual talent of either person, but as has been recounted above Nirvana really did bring a message of 'fuck the mainstream' to kids who might not otherwise have received it, and if you don't accept that that was important to a lot of people then I don't know how to convince you otherwise.
posted by anazgnos at 12:15 PM on April 6, 2011


In terms of their gift for melody?

No, in terms of the volume and diversity of output.
posted by The World Famous at 12:17 PM on April 6, 2011


"no one can recognize Mark E. Smith on the street except a select few, no one covers Fall songs, The Fall have had zero effect on fashion, etc etc etc. And I doubt that any of this was true even when all the world was young and punk was new."

Plenty of people cover The Fall. Pavement used to get slagged as a Fall cover band.

And pretty much everyone in music has been fired from the Fall at some point, whether they know it or not.
posted by klangklangston at 12:23 PM on April 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


I bought Bleach as an import when it came out, and I still listen to it. I recently got the re-release, since my import was missing some songs. The rest can stay in the 90s with the rest of 'grunge' as far as I'm concerned.

When I first got Bleach I listened to it non-stop, then in the summer there was a 4th of July festival in Southern California, and the banner promoting it proclaimed, "Joe Walsh + Nirvana"... I got tickets and waited. Yeah, it wasn't THAT Nirvana. (This was before Nevermind.) Imagine having a band in the 90s called Nirvana and playing some nice local shows, and then...
posted by Huck500 at 12:23 PM on April 6, 2011


The documentary Hype! suggests that the grunge revolution wasn't all that revolutionary in terms of the whole music industry. Pretty much the industry and associated journalism and retailing is set up to appropriate and market the fuck out of these trends. So you had J. C. Penny quickly selling flannel and pre-worn jeans and playing Smells Like Teen Spirit on Muzak.

The dissonance between his mass-market success and his community-rock ideals probably didn't help his depression much. It's almost as if he was living Monty Python's Life of Bryan, funny and absurd until he blew his brains out.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:27 PM on April 6, 2011


mrgrimm: OMG, that second one is like... all I've ever wanted!

Now if I could only find it on MP3. (It's not on her website, sadly, though I did find a really awesome cover of "Heart-Shaped Box" there.) Thanks!
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 12:27 PM on April 6, 2011


"Underground" is dead. "Indie" is the new way to move pancakes, right down to Arcade Fire's Grammy win.

Radiohead are sort of relevant to Nirvana in terms of cultural impact, except it's taken them far longer to achieve it (and more power to them for it; they've kept their shit together as a result). Hearing Arcade Fire for the first time in 2005 reminded me of how I felt when Nevermind hit; that moment of instant "Yeah!". But again, in spite of many accolades and yes, the ability to sell out big halls, I don't see how they've really changed the culture. Yet.

As for "Underground" being dead, that's sort of my point. Or again, as I heard it said a while back, "Yeah, exactly. Except it's not dead. It's just gone back underground where it belongs." So yeah, let the capital "I" Indie bands get all the spotlight and the groupies and the cocaine (or whatever it is that you get these days) while the underground keeps doing what it does best, brewing up weird potions, inventing the future from the shadows.
posted by philip-random at 12:28 PM on April 6, 2011


Plenty of people cover The Fall. Pavement used to get slagged as a Fall cover band.

Well, I think we can safely say that far more people cover Nirvana--rank amateurs playing in awful dives cover Nirvana, and while I'd certainly pay to hear a rank amateur cover of "Repetition" even in an awful dive, there just aren't as many of them.

This should not be interpreted as a criticism of The Fall...I mean, obviously they're influential, and probably indirectly far more influential, and direct influence is over-rated, and influence isn't always used for good anyway.
posted by Frowner at 12:28 PM on April 6, 2011


The Pixies were the best.

I loved the Pixies, still do. But to me their SOUND was immediately familiar. Specifically, don't tell me that Black Francis didn't have at least one Gun Club album in his collection.
posted by philip-random at 12:29 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, in terms of the volume and diversity of output.

Well, I find Lennon really deeply unappealing as a person and musician after about 1968 or so. Most of Lennon's solo career is, at best, slight, and at worst a case of actively trying not to do the things he was best at out of self-conscious need to shed his audience and/or band. Cobain might well have been engaged in the same process just before his death. In both cases these guys had about five years of really high-level productivity, and comparing apples to apples there, I don't see a huge disparity in talent or quality of work. Of course I wouldn't seriously argue that The Beatles weren't the overall bigger deal in total import or innovation or anything.
posted by anazgnos at 12:36 PM on April 6, 2011


I was walking out to my car on one of the college campus lots when I ran into a friend looking all shocked and sad, and he asked me if I'd heard Kurt Cobain had died. My first reaction was to say, "Yeah, right. Good one!" because dead rock star rumors were always going around; there was a persistent Trent Reznor rumor a year or two before. But even after it turned out to be true, I wasn't moved in the way so many people seemed to be; I was sad that it happened, but I never really understood the "Kurt Cobain is the voice of my generation!" thing and following his drug-induced coma it wasn't really a big surprise.

The early 90s were a great time for people like me who grew up on their older siblings' 70s rock and were made to suffer through the synth-laden new wave and hair metal drek of the 80s. Nirvana was just one of many bands taking rock back to basics, and I do wish Kurt Cobain had stuck around to make more.

Also, I must congenially take exception:
b) Dave Grohl proved the devil exists. He did this by selling his soul to the devil. He absolutely did. I will not accept another answer. Contrast Dave Grohl drumming on Lithium and Foo Fighters "I'll be home coming home next year". See?
Them Crooked Vultures provides irrefutable evidence to the contrary.
posted by usonian at 12:36 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Other than the Pixies, Pavement, or Built to Spill?

Slint, Jawbreaker, and Archers of Loaf have had as much or more influence than those headliners. Loud, soft, loud music? Slint.

Well, I find Lennon really deeply unappealing as a person and musician after about 1968 or so.

John Lennon spent most of his last few years (literally) masturbating. Look it up.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:40 PM on April 6, 2011


Tore down a generation of he-man cock rock and a whole culture of macho misogyny without saying a word. Cobain was vocally pro-life and pro-feminist, pro-homo to the point of basically saying he kind of wished he was gay, and generally used every opportunity given to him to denounce corporate control of the media and culture, advocate for the weird and unconventional, and tell his fans it was just fine to question authority and assert their individuality.

Just dittoing that this attitude from an actual celebrity with apparent talent and intelligence was remarkably liberating for a genderqueer hetero male who grew up thinking he was a super freak who would never find anyone to love him.

KURT WEARS DRESSES! (on the cover of Brit mags!)

Yeah yeah, Lou Reed, Bowie, New York Dolls ... I don't think any of those folks wore actual DRESSES.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:47 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I never hated my parents enough to like Nirvana. I also felt sorry for other kids that were into grunge rock when there was so much better stuff coming out of Madchester and Creation Records then.

I know this may be shocking, but it was indeed quite possible to like both simultaneously. I was a huge Madchester fangirl (blah blah Stones Roses at Spike Island blah blah) and I loved Nirvana. How can it be? I contain multitudes.

Kurt's death broke my heart; I had never felt like I'd been a (cultural, at-a-distance) witness to seeing someone's own survival instinct destroyed by his own depression. I had been clinically depressed myself several times before that point, so I felt like I knew what it was like to feel the darkness like that -- like a black bird unfolding its wings inside the cage of your chest and fighting to get out -- but when I heard the news he had blown his head off I realized I didn't have any fucking clue how dark the dark could really get.

Obligatory where-was-I story: I was a grad student in Iowa City, driving back from studying/gossiping with my friend Shawn at Donutland in Coralville. Driving back to my house, I heard a bunch of Nirvana songs coming from the open windows of other cars; it seemed like a mildly odd coincidence, but I didn't think anything of it till I walked in my house and my roommate Susan had MTV on. She turned to me with a stricken look. "Kurt's dead," she said, and I immediately burst into tears. Thus kicked off the same weekend as our grad student union certification vote (we lost) AND the weekend I needed to finish my master's thesis, which was due on Monday. It was a pretty shitty weekend, fueled mainly by beer, cigarettes, coffee, and Twix bars, and punctuated by long periods of crying and cursing.
posted by scody at 12:49 PM on April 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


I never had any friends albums later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?

First time a meFi comment has ever made me misty-eyed.
posted by herbplarfegan at 12:59 PM on April 6, 2011


Radiohead are sort of relevant to Nirvana in terms of cultural impact

Radiohead are just an awful, petit bourgeois version of Joy Division. The Joy Division that went to Sunday School. I feel deeply sorry for anyone that finds them meaningful in any way.

don't tell me that Black Francis didn't have at least one Gun Club album in his collection.

He probably does by the sounds of things - but no one has THE SCREAM.
posted by sgt.serenity at 12:59 PM on April 6, 2011


Radiohead have been formulaic and boring since OK Computer. I'll never hear a Nirvana album I don't like.

Also, to everyone complaining about Kurt not staying around to raise his kid...I'm pretty sure that Frances Bean is not Kurt's kid. Just sayin'.

.
posted by schyler523 at 1:03 PM on April 6, 2011


The idea that this was some new style of music and that Cobain was some kind of trailblazer was laughable.

From the man himself:

"I consider it pop music — another style of pop music, just more abrasive. It's still typical repetitive structure. It has a guitar solo in the middle, and I usually repeat lyrics over and over again to where I consider it catchy enough to be considered pop music."

- Seattle Times

no one has come along since Cobain who is as great an artist or who has (to use one of his favorite words) revolutionized popular music. Sad to say, Kurt Cobain was the last great rock star

QFT.

I know this may be shocking, but it was indeed quite possible to like both simultaneously.

Ditto. Stone Roses and Nirvana are two of my favorite bands of the late '80s/early '90s. I was big into Inspiral Carpets and Happy Mondays, not to mention Joy Division/New Order, the Smiths, etc.

Kurt's death broke my heart

Kurt and (10 years later) Elliott too. Someone somewhere wrote something incredibly moving about seeing Elliott play Miss Misery at the Academy Awards and the feeling of wonder and pure joy that "hey, there's one of us up there!" I think that's one of the reasons Kurt appealed to so many people.

I was just shy of 21 and off the grid for a few days when Kurt died. Much of the hype/hate had already been sowed by the time I learned about it. Mostly I felt shock and dismay at the loss of music. At 31, Elliott's death left me in tears.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:08 PM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Nirvana were not really in any appreciable way either better or more marketable than, say, Sonic Youth or Dinorsaur Jr or the Pixies at that time.

Personally, I couldn't possibly disagree more.

Someone could make the same statement about Beatles as to Stones, Kinks, the Who, Cream.. which is a valid opinion, of course, but I'd disagree with them too.

I know that means absolutely nothing more than that I'm in the majority on the question in both cases, and, objectively, of course: that doesn't mean a damn thing,

but Nirvana, like the Beatles, did nothing but pure, perfect albums-- their whole discographies were from heaven. ..er.. IMO.
posted by herbplarfegan at 1:11 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that Frances Bean is not Kurt's kid. Just sayin'.

I dunno... she looks more like Kurt than Courtney.
posted by scody at 1:11 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that Frances Bean is not Kurt's kid.

I'd take that bet. She sure looks a LOT like him.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:12 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


... and that "voice of a generation" horseshit is just noise. Put the damn records on. Period.
posted by herbplarfegan at 1:13 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oops, guess I'm wrong...I thought I remembered reading that FB was a previous child of courtney's...
posted by schyler523 at 1:17 PM on April 6, 2011


Yeah yeah, Lou Reed, Bowie, New York Dolls ... I don't think any of those folks wore actual DRESSES.

Defending the transvestite honor of one of my musical heroes: Bowie wore a dress for the initial UK cover of The Man Who Sold the World, although not the US cover. It was a different kind of a thing, though, definitely.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:18 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that Frances Bean is not Kurt's kid. Just sayin'.

What are you basing that on?
posted by box at 1:18 PM on April 6, 2011


within 10 seconds my best friend and I were WHAT.IS.THIS.WE.NEED.THIS.WE.ARE.ALIVE!

A lot of people had that experience, and it was pre-internet days, this cannot be stressed enough. MTV was very, very different too back then. And then there was radio and the music press (and the UK music press, who were the first to fall in love with Nirvana and hype them, back then was immensely influential across all Europe, too). BUT NO INTERNET. This means no youtube, no myspace, no band website, no videos posted from your friends on facebook, no internet radio, no mp3 blogs, etc. etc. Think about it, you kids who were 6 when Kurt died! (and get off my lawn)

It was much easier to end up accidentally hearing Nirvana for the first time being played on the radio or in a rock/alternative-music club (if I don't recall wrong, even a while before the video was even broadcast -- I do remember seeing the video for Teen Spirit at least a couple of months after first hearing the single and then getting the album -- but may have been cos I didn't have tv during the summer), than hearing about them via the channels we now take for granted.

So maybe that's also why it's hard to name a comparable worldwide phenomenon after that. It has less to do with music alone. The terms of comparison have changed, because the media and channels through which even 'indie' bands become popular and accessible to millions of people in the world have changed.

There are tons of good to great bands around, like in every era of pop music, and there have been for the past 17 years, and a lot more accessible than back then -- and Nirvana also contributed to the greater accessibility of 'indie' music, because heh, they proved that it was a profitable market. (They, and R.E.M., among others, in that same year).

It may well be that no other band got to make quite that same WHOA WHAT IS THIS I NEED MORE impact at such a global level, in the same way, in one single moment, with a debut album, and have that 'generational blah blah impact' (and yes it's been way overdone, liek all press hype repeating itself over years and years, but doesn't mean one can flat out deny there was that kind of impact), but that has less to do with 'quality' of music alone, which is another thing (I leave that debate on the merits and faults of band x vs band y to the real music geeks! I am happy enough to just find stuff I enjoy listening to).

Maybe it's just that every era has its own different ways of getting that whoa moment of synchronicity. Maybe it's just that precisely because 'indie' music is hugely more accessible today, there are so many bands getting through to their audiences, that it's less likely for a single one to get that big whoa moment all to themselves.

(In the end though let's also keep in mind that, it wasn't just Cobain doing it all by himself -- the music was made by the BAND, all three of them. The Cult of Kurt that followed his suicide belongs to entirely another chapter of 'cultural studies'.)
posted by bitteschoen at 1:20 PM on April 6, 2011


Oops, too slow.

Also, I don't think there's any way to play 'Last Great Rock Star' without it turning No-True-Scotsman or rockist or something.
posted by box at 1:21 PM on April 6, 2011


I miss Joe Strummer
posted by edgeways at 1:22 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I was trying to write the ultimate pop song. I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies." -- Kurt Cobain

Maybe he coulda been. Lennon died at 40.

When Paul McCartney publicly announced he was leaving the Beatles on April 10, 1970, Ringo and John were 29; Paul and George were 27.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:22 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


correction - something missing: ...It may well be that no other band *since then*...
posted by bitteschoen at 1:23 PM on April 6, 2011


Speaking of Courtenay Love, is it common knowledge by now that her lyrics for "Miss World" are essentially Kurt's suicide note? It should be. Just switch genders.

I am the girl you know, cant look you in the eye
I am the girl you know, so sick I cannot try
And I am the one you want, cant look you in the eye
I am the girl, you know I lie, I lie and lie
Im miss world, somebody kill me
Kill me pills
No one cares, my friends
My friend
Im miss world, watch me break and watch me burn
No one is listening, my friend
Now Ive made my bed, Ill lie in it
Ive made my bed, Ill die in it
Ive made my bed, Ill lie in it
Ive made my bed, Ill die in it

Cute girls watch when I eat ether
Suck me under
Maybe forever, my friend
Now Ive made my bed, Ill lie in it
Ive made my bed, Ill die in it
Ive made my bed, Ill cry in it
Ive made my bed, Ill lie in it
I am the girl you know, cant look you in the eye

posted by philip-random at 1:33 PM on April 6, 2011


Compare and contrast:

To Boddah:

Speaking from the tongue of an experienced simpleton who obviously would rather be an emasculated, infantile complain-ee. This note should be pretty easy to understand.

All the warnings from the punk rock 101 courses over the years, since my first introduction to the, shall we say, ethics involved with independence and the embracement of your community had proven to be very true. I haven't felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music along with reading and writing for too many years now. I feel guilty beyond words about these things.

For example, when we're backstage and the lights go out and the manic roar of the crowds begin, it doesn't affect me the way in which it did for Freddie Mercury, who seemed to love, relish in the love and adoration from the crowd which is something I totally admire and envy. The fact is, I can't fool you, any one of you. It simply isn't fair to you or me. The worst crime I can think of would be to rip people off by faking it and pretending as if I'm having 100% fun.

Sometimes I feel as if I should have a punch-in time clock before I walk out on stage. I've tried everything within my power to appreciate it (and I do, God, believe me I do, but it's not enough). I appreciate the fact that I and we have affected and entertained a lot of people. It must be one of those narcissists who only appreciate things when they're gone. I'm too sensitive. I need to be slightly numb in order to regain the enthusiasms I once had as a child.

On our last 3 tours, I've had a much better appreciation for all the people I've known personally, and as fans of our music, but I still can't get over the frustration, the guilt and empathy I have for everyone. There's good in all of us and I think I simply love people too much, so much that it makes me feel too fucking sad. The sad little, sensitive, unappreciative, Pisces, Jesus man. Why don't you just enjoy it? I don't know!

I have a goddess of a wife who sweats ambition and empathy and a daughter who reminds me too much of what I used to be, full of love and joy, kissing every person she meets because everyone is good and will do her no harm. And that terrifies me to the point to where I can barely function. I can't stand the thought of Frances becoming the miserable, self-destructive, death rocker that I've become.

I have it good, very good, and I'm grateful, but since the age of seven, I've become hateful towards all humans in general. Only because it seems so easy for people to get along that have empathy. Only because I love and feel sorry for people too much, I guess.

Thank you all from the pit of my burning, nauseous stomach for your letters and concern during the past years. I'm too much of an erratic, moody baby! I don't have the passion anymore, and so remember, it's better to burn out than to fade away.

Peace, love, empathy,

Kurt Cobain

Frances and Courtney, I'll be at your altar.
Please keep going Courtney, for Frances.
For her life, which will be so much happier without me.

I love you, I love you!
posted by box at 1:42 PM on April 6, 2011


There is a general assumption among many people that Kurt contributed a great deal of uncredited material to Live Through This. Certainly Courtney hasn't written anything since without considerable assistance,
posted by anazgnos at 1:48 PM on April 6, 2011


I bought Bleach as an import when it came out, and I still listen to it. I recently got the re-release, since my import was missing some songs. The rest can stay in the 90s with the rest of 'grunge' as far as I'm concerned.

That seems to be the general attitude of the fans who had Bleach first. "Nevermind? Eh. It's OK, but nothing special..."

it wasn't just Cobain doing it all by himself -- the music was made by the BAND, all three of them. The Cult of Kurt that followed his suicide belongs to entirely another chapter of 'cultural studies'.

No, it belongs to another chapter of America's love for the singer/songwriter. Sure, the band "made the music," (and its pretty likely Kurt would have sided with Krist and Dave against Courtney in that legal battle) but it's likewise pretty clear that Cobain wrote the songs.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:55 PM on April 6, 2011


I don't have time right now to do a broader 'Why He Matters: Kurt Cobain" thing, but I will say this: Without Kurt Cobain & Nirvana, I would have never discovered music of the The Melvins or Lead Belly. So, he matters to me, at least.

.
posted by KingEdRa at 1:58 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Not wishing to backseat drive the thread, but if you like Kurt Cobain, it's really worth watching the Kathleen Hanna video, which I should have put at the front.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:04 PM on April 6, 2011


Important 90's Moment
posted by furiousthought at 2:05 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Kurt died on my birthday.

I was 15, living in the wasteland of North Dakota.

Yeah. It was a bit of a Big Deal.
posted by Windigo at 2:12 PM on April 6, 2011


Man, that Kathleen Hanna video is awesome.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:20 PM on April 6, 2011


Important 90's Moment

You've got chocolate in my peanut butter ... HEY!
posted by mrgrimm at 2:53 PM on April 6, 2011


Nirvana rose to success partly because of, at the time, new digital tracking of record sales. Ya know someone started counting all the scans of purchases at the record stores, so when Nevermind started selling marketing started pushing.

I was a serious punk, descrying the lingering death of hardcore in general when suddenly everyone from hair metal fans, other punks, and urban hipsters started fawning over the pop song "Smells like Teen Spirit." I had heard their first album, Bleach, and "Negative Creep" was right up my alley, but this drivel on Nevermind and the otherwise rational people rallying behind it rubbed me the wrong way. In Utero blew chunks and if Cobain hadn't offed himself when he did, we'd be saying "remember Nirvana? What ever happened to them?"

Tragic though his suicide may be the only thing making Cobain "iconic" or the hero of our generation is marketing hype.

I always thought that Cobain offed himself because he knew he couldn't, or more importantly didn't WANT to, write another "Smells like Teen Spirit." I know it's more complicated than that, but there he was thrust into the limelight because of what should have been a one hit wonder, "have a cigar you're gonna go far!" PR people goading him along so he just tossed it all. I can't say i respect his decision, he could have just walked away, but it was HIS decision, his last expression of free will.

.
posted by Max Power at 3:20 PM on April 6, 2011


I was just the right age when Nirvana became popular. I wasn't a HUGE fan at the time, but I remember being pretty devastated when Kurt died and I still think really fondly about him and feel a pang of regret when I think about his death. I remember where I was when I heard that he'd died. Not many other pop culture icons had that effect on me, hardly any in rock music. I mean, only Princess Di springs to mind at the moment.

I agree that Nirvana's music was more about helping "different" kids find one another and relate to one another than any one, singular, clear point of genius. I still queue "Nevermind" up on my iPod and I still like it, but Nirvana does live in a weird place in my mind, sharing space with other musicians and bands that have made albums with the power to just level me emotionally (Lucinda Williams), make me feel different or transport me to a totally different frame of mind (Sonic Youth) and bands that keep me in touch with my angry riot grrl side (Bikini Kill) - those are the artists I listened to a lot then that I still listen to a lot today. Not so much with Nirvana but I put them in that category anyway. I can't even quite say why!

Here's the best way I can explain the importance. I have a niece who is 12 years younger than me. She was not old enough to remember Nirvana, really, or to have experienced them when they were at the height of their popularity. When she was in her early teens, maybe 14 or 15, my older sister moved her entire family (my teenaged niece included, natch) to Hawaii.

On the phone with her a few months after the move, I asked her:

"So how do you like paradise? Is it totally awesome?"

And she responded:

"I hate it. I fucking hate it!"

Shocked by this, I asked her how that could possibly be. It's Hawaii! Rainbows and blue oceans and laaaaid back. What could possibly be wrong?

"They haven't even heard of NIRVANA here!" was her complaint.

And I immediately, and completely understood not just her misery and why she hated it there, but where she was at and what kind of kid she was at school and it was immediately easy for me to get closer to her, from all of those miles away.
posted by pazazygeek at 3:22 PM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was just about Cobain's age when he snuffed it, so too old for it to be a HUGE deal, but it hit me anyways. He might have killed off hair metal (w/ a repurposed Boston riff, of all things) but the very concept of rock stardom (w/ the gun.) Somehow, the whole idea that making it Big, turning your angst into relateable merch, somehow becoming waht you wanted to be, by being honest about how fucked up you were, just didn't seem viable any more.

Sure, it sounds stupid now, especially w/ all those years of Michael Jackson's insanity to prove otherwise. But for a while there (since Elvis at least) it seemed like a thing. That maybe it was not only a viable career path, but an effective escape. For me, that's what Kurt's exit ended up 'meaning'- if a guy w/ that kind of material resources, and the however-misguided love of millions, couldn't find a way out short of the big record-scratch, then maybe there just wasn't one.

Not saying it made or makes any sense, just testifying - I know a bit about music, and was a little ways past Jr High, I don't think Kurt was John Lennon, but I think he was important anyways, and

.
posted by hap_hazard at 3:40 PM on April 6, 2011


I was 13 when SLTS was released, and Nirvana was why me, and most everyone I knew, started a band. I suppose it might have happened anyway, but at the time, it was all because of Nirvana. In my 30s now, still have a KC poster in my home. Love love love.
posted by relooreloo at 3:53 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


My father was the one who bought Nevermind the week it came out

Ah, the generations, and their chasmic gaps! My dad listened to Dean Martin and Nat King Cole, constantly.

I like both of them OK now, but, you know what I'm saying...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:01 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


When Nirvana first broke, I listened to em, liked em well enough, but didn't get too excited about them or even decide to buy an album.

I was in my 20s living in the East Village in the early 90s and my roommate and I used to meander down to Lucy's bar off of Tompkins Square park to play pool and drink. Nirvana would play every so often on the jukebox and little did I know that the melodies and the lyric were soaking into my consciousness, cause honestly I wasn't listening too closely. It was a strange time, the first World Trade Center bombing was around then, the city shook it off in days it seemed.

One morning I woke up and found my roommate dead from a heroin overdose. I moved out of the city soon after. Months later, driving on a back country road in Vermont, "Come As You Are" began playing and as I heard these lyrics:
Take your time, hurry up
The choice is yours, don't be late
Take a rest as a friend
As an old

Memoria, memoria
Memoria, memoria
I had to pull over and break down in tears. There was power in those lyrics, truth even.

Love him, hate him, ignore him, whatever works for you man. As far as I'm concerned he wrote some pretty damn good songs, had a great scream and played guitar better than I ever will (which I will admit isn't saying much). RIP.
posted by jeremias at 4:07 PM on April 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


I mean, the voice of what generation? Who?

People I knew who listened really seriously to Nirvana:

1. White alterna-suburbanites for whom Nirvana was the first non-radio-pop they could really access. (How I first heard Nevermind, in fact.)

2. Younger white kids to whom Nirvana really spoke.

Nirvana always seemed like this really middle/lower-middle class white suburban phenomenon to me


I'm not big on voice-of-a-generation hyperbole either, but "middle-lower class white people" and "white suburbanites" describes a fairly huge swath of 1990s North America. Just sayin.
posted by Hoopo at 4:33 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whoa. If this true, then you could very well have altered the course of musical history by reaching him before he entered the garage. Silly and somewhat (okay, totally) preposterous to think about, but ... do you ever wonder?

I just can't come up with a plausible scenario in which signing for a delivery would have changed anything. That's not to say I've never daydreamed about what if I hadn't stopped to let those pedestrians jaywalk across Madison street, had gotten there a little bit earlier, was the type of guy to say, "Hey buddy, you look like you're having a really crappy day. Want to talk about it?"... But like you said, it's preposterous. For me, it's an interesting story I can tell that's usually good for a beer. I'd like to be able to attach some more significance to that intersection of our lives, but I don't think there is any.
posted by Balonious Assault at 4:33 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I had somehow forgotten about Negative Creep. It's probably cuz of the subsequent 15 years of dub and bong hits, but I am so going to download that song when I get home. Thanks for reminding me!
posted by Hoopo at 4:35 PM on April 6, 2011


Whoa. If this true, then you could very well have altered the course of musical history by reaching him before he entered the garage. Silly and somewhat (okay, totally) preposterous to think about, but ... do you ever wonder?

Reminds me of a Dan Bern song.
posted by philip-random at 5:16 PM on April 6, 2011


I still remember exactly where I was and what I was doing the day they found Kurt's body. It was the second day of spring break of my sophomore year of high school -- growing up within a 20 minute bus ride of downtown Seattle meant that my friends and I had spent years ditching school to hang out on Broadway at the Jack in the Box where Kurt used to score, or setting up faux sleepovers so that we could all go out together and have someone's older brother's college roommate sneak us into shows. Kurt's suicide was by no means a surprise, but it was a serious blow to those of us who'd essentially grown up in his shadow.

I still remember going to the memorial at Seattle Center that weekend, and seeing so many different groups of people mourning together. I went alone, afraid that I would cry and not wanting any of my friends to see me cry for some reason. And while I was standing there listening to the tape of Courtney reading Kurt's suicide note, the guy next to me started to sob. Big, tall, meaty wall of a guy, super long metalhead hair, big black leather jacket, just sobbing like a baby. Without even thinking I just reached out and put my arms around him and we cried together.

I can't believe it's already been 17 years, and I can't believe it's only been 17 years. RIP, Kurt.
posted by palomar at 5:43 PM on April 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Cobain had been dead for less than a month when the Oklahoma Bombing occurred. When they arrested Timothy McVeigh, I noted (with some dismay) that he, Cobain and I were all the same age.

I was a DJ at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa's radio station, KTUH, back when Nevermind came out. I was familiar with Bleach, because I'd been exposed to a little of it when I was working as a DJ at another college station, but I hadn't listened to it. For some reason, the descriptions I'd read of Nirvana in CMJ turned me off. I was a Pixies/Replacements/Husker Du/fIREHOSE guy at the time, and 1991 was a bleak time if you were fans of those particular bands.

So, I'm working the midnight-3 shift one night, and Nevermind has maybe been out for two weeks. I haven't bothered to even crack open the CD case. I get a caller asking me to play "Smells Like Teen Spirit." I tried to play all requests I received, but I was really reluctant to play another track by another mediocre west coast psuedo-punk band. We got probably 70 albums by psuedo-punk bands a month. And, like I said, CMJ made them sound like just another psueo-punk band.

I played "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and was blown away. Before the song was over, one of the station's other DJs started buzzing the doorbell before the song was even over. He was in the area, heard the song and had to come and see what band I was playing. He hung out and I think I played two or three other tracks from the album that night - choosing which ones to play based on the first three seconds or so (this meant "Territorial Pissing" definitely got played).

None of us knew, at the time, that Nirvana and the other bands that broke with them were going to kill hair metal (or lead to the rise of Nu-Metal and, ultimately, bands like Limp Bizkit) but we knew, damn, this was the album of the fucking year.

Ten by Pearl Jam had been released a few weeks before Nevermind, but most of my friends didn't really get into them until Vs. and (especially) Vitalogy. The two bands were compared like mad back then, but I was all like "Really?" Pearl Jam was clearly influenced by a very different set of bands than Nirvana - I mean, the Nirvana/Pixies connection is as clear as the Pearl Jam/70's rock connection. I think they attracted very different fans, too.

Anyhow, Cobain died and then McVeigh got arrested and I was like "shit, my generation is going to be remember for giving up and being psychotic."

I also remember thinking "This has ensured that Nirvana will be enshrined forever."

I stopped being a DJ soon after Cobain died. Not because of his death, but because I was done with graduate school. I didn't like everything Nirvana ever released, but damn they released some fine music.

Oh, one other thing. Nirvana helped me get over myself. I used to abandon bands as soon as they became popular. Even if I really liked a band's latest album, if it had a popular hit, I would sniff and snort and call them sell-outs. When Nirvana became huge, I realized I'd been talking Nevermind up for like three months already and couldn't exactly weasel out and say they were sell-outs when I was saying just the opposite for months.

Every music snob needs a moment like that or they have to live their whole lives just listening to new releases by bands with names like Fecal Spleen who play spoons run through a loop pedal and distortion box while singing about the after-effects of bad acid. Man, seriously, Nirvana helped me realize I could listen to anything and that nobody actually gave a fuck that I could tell you every song in the Meat Puppet's catalog.

I was able to finally make friends and not be quite as much of a dick as I'd been before. I wish that for music snobs everywhere.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:45 PM on April 6, 2011 [10 favorites]


Cobain had been dead for less than a month when the Oklahoma Bombing occurred.

As a former OKC-area teenager, I feel compelled to inform you with all possible speed (no time for anecdotes!!) that the Kurt had actually been dead for more than a year. Waco was 1993, Cobain was 1994, the federal building was April 1995. (I was class of '97.)
posted by Adventurer at 7:04 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


anazgnos: "Please don't acknowledge Leto.

I mean, I don't want to be backed into a corner of saying how it's desecrating Kurt's memory or something, because while Nirvana meant (and means) a lot to me I think he deserves better than either lazy deification or lazy tearing-down, but seriously, fuck posting a fucking soulless, vapid shitheel actor callously raping the memory of something that was once meaningful in a tribute/memorial thread
"

So you too were hoping that Edward Norton would bound in and pummel his face to a pulp?
posted by bwg at 7:07 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always liked the opening lines from Don't Wake Daddy by The Tragically Hip:

"Sled dogs after dinner close their eyes on the howlin' wastes
Kurt Cobain, reincarnated, sighs and licks his face"
posted by bwg at 7:14 PM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Joey Michaels -

yrrr wrong about the Oklahoma bombing timing as Adventurer points out (I was in London, England at the time and that was definitely 1995) but right about everything else. My first Smells Like Teen Spirit listen didn't come in a radio station. It was just a friend's living room, but the cumulative effect was the same. One of his room-mates came down from upstairs NEEDING to know what was being played. I was on the phone trying to buy concert tix but no luck; the show had just sold out ...

Which leads to another anecdote. August, 1991, maybe a month before Nevermind came out, I had tix to see Sonic Youth at Vancouver's York Theatre. Nirvana was the warm-up act and my attitude (being the too cool dude I was at the time) was "Whatever, just another rawk outfit outa Seattle who are not as good as the 70s bands they're ripping off." So I showed up late, just in time to catch the VERY end of Nirvana's set ... which was basically a wall of feedback and various pieces of instrumentation getting smashed, and a guitar player who seemed to be buried somewhere in the moshpit. The feeling was, "Shit, I think I just missed something significant."

Worth noting: Sonic Youth KILLED that night. I've seen them now at least half a dozen times but they've NEVER matched the intensity they had that night, like Nirvana had thrown down the gauntlet and the Youth had accepted.
posted by philip-random at 7:18 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah-eah-eah-eah-eaaaaaah
Yeah-eah-eah-eah-eaaaaaaaaaah
Yeah-eah-eah-eah eaaaah-eaaah-eah
Yeah-eah-eah-eah-eaaaaaah
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:57 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I never really liked Nirvana but I can appreciate their place in music history. However, I feel like they sucked all of the oxygen out of the room for much more interesting and deserving bands.

That said, I've walked around Aberdeen, Washington and man, the sense of desperation and potential violence in that town just covers you like a blanket. It's just the saddest place you can imagine.
posted by bardic at 8:28 PM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


i was 36 when he died - i damn near drove off the road the first time i heard "all apologies" - and when i realized it was him, i realized, having heard of his near overdose in italy, that this was a suicidal, desperate person who would probably not be long with us

and it saddened me to learn i was right

half of his songs i thought were incomprehensible mush - the other half were absolute brilliance

i think "all apologies" is one of the top ten rock songs ever recorded - and i think the music world lost a talent the equal of a lennon or a dylan when he killed himself

and he was only getting started

as courtney said at your public memorial, you're an asshole, kurt, for doing this to yourself - i won't say you were the voice of your generation - but you were a great voice - and i wish you had not silenced yourself

and damn it neil young, burning out and fading away are not your only two choices in life - you know that now - and it's a pity that kurt didn't live long enough to learn it
posted by pyramid termite at 9:37 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was in junior high when Kurt died, and he was my EVERYTHING. His birthday is only a few days before mine, and, despite the fact that he clearly had problems that a typical teenager wouldn't have (for instance, the harder drugs), I felt a kinship with him that I wouldn't feel with anyone else for... many years (or, possibly, ever). I definitely could relate to a lot of his problems, and I felt that we were cut from the same cloth, if you will. I absolutely adored him.. I saw myself in him. I saw him in myself. And, despite all his problems (and all my problems), I saw a person just like me who made it to adulthood.. who, despite all the problems, functioned and just.. he was a symbol of hope for me. The day his death was announced, one of my friends from school called me with a really cryptic message, and I thought she was just being a bitch making up such a morbid story. Turning on the radio (worse yet, turning on Kurt fucking Loder! Now I ONLY associate Kurt Loder with THAT DAY), I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Naturally, I was very upset.. I still get upset. Kurt was a beautiful soul and it shouldn't have been the way it was. But, I was upset, not merely for the loss of Kurt, but because all my own hopes for survival and normalcy were all dashed to pieces at a time when I needed the reassurance that everything would be okay. I'm 30 now, so I've made it over that hump, but.. meh, only just. Incidentally, I remember how news filtered over here about murder conspiracies, and, as much as I had always loathed Courtney Love, I was angry that people wouldn't just let him be in peace. ... However, I've since read a few highly-detailed investigations that seem credible and actually do seem to prove that there was something more to this tragedy than 'depressed junky who can't deal with fame shoots himself in head'. In other words, I do believe there are suspicious circumstances, but it's a closed case, either way. (You know too much already..)
posted by Mael Oui at 10:05 PM on April 6, 2011


As a former OKC-area teenager, I feel compelled to inform you with all possible speed (no time for anecdotes!!) that the Kurt had actually been dead for more than a year. Waco was 1993, Cobain was 1994, the federal building was April 1995. (I was class of '97.)

Well, holy crap. In my brain, those things happened in the same year. Consider me gobsmacked. My only excuse is age and the fact that grad school fucks you up.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:40 PM on April 6, 2011


you do realize that you can now never be certain of anything ever again, don't you?
posted by philip-random at 10:52 PM on April 6, 2011


Mael Oui, I was in junior high when he died but I'm 7 years younger than you. Not saying I doubt you; I suspect Cobainverse has some cosmic time-distorting properties.
posted by naju at 10:56 PM on April 6, 2011


Mael Oui, I was in junior high when he died but I'm 7 years younger than you. Not saying I doubt you; I suspect Cobainverse has some cosmic time-distorting properties.

Mael Oui is 30
You are 7 years younger than Mael Oui
Kurt Cobain died in 1994

30-7 = 23
2011 - 1994 - 17
23 - 17 = 6

You attended junior high school when you were six years old.
posted by anazgnos at 11:09 PM on April 6, 2011


B-but his profile says he's 36? Well nevermind then! (/drunk)
posted by naju at 11:11 PM on April 6, 2011


B-but his profile says he's 36? Well nevermind then!

This is very strange. He said he was 30 in his post, and since I'm 31 and was a freshman when he died, junior high is consistent with somebody being a year younger.

Maybe...Cobain isn't really dead...?!?!
posted by anazgnos at 11:13 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am 30! I'm also female. I'm also not named Paul! But, I AM named Kip, so it's not all lies. I was in... I think 7th grade when he died. That was a bad time, over all.
posted by Mael Oui at 11:34 PM on April 6, 2011


Yeah yeah, Lou Reed, Bowie, New York Dolls ... I don't think any of those folks wore actual DRESSES.

Bowie wore a dress for the initial UK cover of The Man Who Sold the World


"Is this phase one of lumpy gravy?" (The Mothers of Invention, 1967)
posted by Herodios at 6:47 AM on April 7, 2011


Also, to everyone complaining about Kurt not staying around to raise his kid...I'm pretty sure that Frances Bean is not Kurt's kid. Just sayin'.

Also curious why you say this. Frances as a young girl, Kurt Rolling Stone cover. Kurt, Frances. Here they are together, with Courtney – father and daughter seemingly sharing the same feeling of the moment. She certainly shares a lot of his features and expressions, and doesn't look much like Courtney.
posted by taz at 6:57 AM on April 7, 2011


She doesn't look much like her mother because Courtney's been mutilating her face with plastic surgery for twenty years. If you look at pictures of Courtney Love from when she was a teenager, you can definitely see the resemblance. But she also looks like Kurt, especially her eyes. I'd say Frances looks like a pretty even mix of both parents.
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 8:34 AM on April 7, 2011


Re: Bikini Kill, Suck My Left One

Sleater-Kinney + Bikini Kill informed much of my 90s musical content.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:54 AM on April 7, 2011


I'd say Frances looks like a pretty even mix of both parents.

Ditto. I don't know how you'd look at the picture I posted earlier, and say she doesn't look a LOT like both of them.

Mom's eyes, dad's head/face. I have seen that a lot with first-born daughters (including mine). Not sure if it's a real thing.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:58 AM on April 7, 2011


Yeah yeah, Lou Reed, Bowie, New York Dolls ... I don't think any of those folks wore actual DRESSES.

And then there were the Rolling Stones in 1966.
posted by y2karl at 10:41 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"And our own litlnemo was there, although I did not know this until just now."

Yes. I posted this about it on MeFi in 2004.
posted by litlnemo at 5:57 AM on April 8, 2011


"Get stoned and worship Satan"

Photo Of Death Showed Grim Reality Of Choice Cobain Made On Life

The cover.

Bart Cobain
posted by mrgrimm at 7:25 AM on April 8, 2011


To many readers it is also tasteless, intrusive, insensitive and gratuitous tabloid journalism.

Well, yeah. Lurid is the word that comes to mind. Bleahrgh. He got hounded in death, even as he did in life.

*whistles Candle in the Wind*
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:07 AM on April 8, 2011


Okay, I know this is sacrilegious, and I'm basically pissing all over your adolescence by saying this, but ... why did we care so much about Kurt Cobain's death?

I mean, seriously. It's not like the guy was John Lennon.


You're right, Cobain wasn't Lennon. Lennon accomplished much more. He had accomplished a full life's work (that's an understatement) by the time he died at 40. That's what makes Cobain's death more tragic. Nirvana only released 3 studio albums. After In Utero was released, Cobain said in an interview that he hoped to go beyond the band's quiet verse/loud chorus formula and go in a poppier direction, or possibly a more experimental direction. We'll never know what they could have been if they had evolved, but their output was great enough that we can feel a serious loss from not getting to see what would have happened. With Lennon, we have 14 Beatles albums -- including several dramatic changes of musical direction -- plus a decade's worth of solo material. By the end he was still writing great songs, but he wasn't continuing to innovate or evolve. This isn't a competition; obviously both deaths are monstrously sad. But to me, Cobain's death is one of the worst tragedies in rock music. Off hand, the only comparable loss I can think of is Buddy Holly. Though 40 is a terribly young age to die, Lennon lived a fuller life and accomplished more than most people who live to be 100. So I see his death as cruel and senseless, but not tragic in the way Cobain's and Holly's were. I was named after John Lennon, having been born shortly after he died, but the killing of Cobain was probably a greater blow to music history than the killing of Lennon.
posted by John Cohen at 8:35 AM on April 8, 2011


doesn't look much like Courtney.

Yeah, and Michael Jackson didn't look much like his mom and dad.
posted by John Cohen at 8:37 AM on April 8, 2011


Bogus call: when he was a child, he looked like their child. It took decades of skin bleaching, makeup and serious cosmetic surgery to look otherwise.
posted by y2karl at 7:07 PM on April 8, 2011


I feel kind of icked out by the lengthy argumentation on Frances Bean Cobain's parentage in this thread. I don't think this is an absurd feeling to have.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:18 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not so icked out, but I'm kinda vaguely irritated. Is anyone even arguing that Frances' isn't Kurt and Courtney's kid at this point?

I'm pretty sure that Frances Bean is not Kurt's kid. Just sayin'.

.

posted by schyler523 at 3:03 PM on April 6 [+] [!]

....

Oops, guess I'm wrong...I thought I remembered reading that FB was a previous child of courtney's...
posted by schyler523 at 3:17 PM on April 6 [+] [!]
posted by box at 7:44 AM on April 9, 2011


That is the other weird thing. Schyler523 thought Courtney Love had Frances Bean before she started seeing Kurt Cobain, and was corrected. I don't even think he was trying to say that Love had someone else's child while she was with Cobain, which is what people are now assuming.

Everyone seems to agree that Frances Bean looks at least somewhat like Kurt Cobain (apparently), and that there is no reason to suppose she is not the natural child of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. I don't even know what point is trying to be proven with the latest Michael Jackson metaderail.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:19 AM on April 9, 2011


I've read over half this thread and will go back and read the rest, BUT I just saw Foo Fighters on SNL tonight. The host was Helen Fucking Mirren. The musical guest was the Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl and his guys look healthy, are muscled, obviously work hard, and most importantly are having at least a little fun.

Kurt was a sick and tired whiny dude. I'm sorry he had so much baggage and pain and felt the need to off himself. I feel sorrier for his daughter.

However, at least one member of that band has done well. Surprisingly, it was the drummer.

Almost a decade ago, I was in a super hard spot with me and my kiddos. "Learn to Fly" on some channel turned our week around. We all danced and felt better. Thank you, Dave, for not following Kurt's example.
posted by lilywing13 at 3:05 AM on April 10, 2011


However, at least one member of that band has done well. Surprisingly, it was the drummer.

Ahem. And why would that be surprising? Drummers are often the sanest, solidest, most well-balanced and least egocentric members of any band. Often those qualities are the ingredients for sustained success.

And hey, there's a big precedent: remember that it was Ringo who had the first #1 hit single after the Beatles' breakup.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:51 AM on April 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, and Michael Jackson didn't look much like his mom and dad.

John Cohen, I know you're very young and all, but, hey, we have this thing called YouTube now, so there's really no excuse for you to not know about Michael Jackson.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:56 AM on April 10, 2011


"Ahem. And why would that be surprising?"

Grohl was drummer number seven for Nirvana, and outside of Dale Crover (also of the Melvins), most of their drummers have been general fuck ups who have not gone on to do anything (except jail time).

Grohl, though, was in a pretty well-regarded (if not especially famous) hardcore band called Scream, so was relatively professional. He's also a pretty great rock drummer.
posted by klangklangston at 9:56 AM on April 10, 2011


Grohl's a phenomenal drummer. And an okay singer, guitarist, front man. To be honest, after how many years of FooFighting, I couldn't name a single song. I don't mind them at all when someone pops a CD on or they come on the radio, but there's just nothing that GRABS. I'm not demanding Nirvana's one-in-a-billion level intensity, just a one in ten thousand hook, or melody, or twist.
posted by philip-random at 11:14 AM on April 10, 2011


Oh, come on, now. Everlong is at least one-in-ten-thousand.
posted by The World Famous at 9:57 AM on April 11, 2011


To be honest, after how many years of FooFighting, I couldn't name a single song.

Ditto (well, one or two or three, maybe). And I "like" the Foo Fighters. I can name "Free to Fly" b/c someone else here did, and there's also "Hero," (ah, apparently it's "My Hero") but no, no such urgency to ever own or listen to them. (Is Everlong the video with the huge hand? I loved that video.)

(There's also Monkey Wrench, which I only remember b/c my friend claimed the "1 in 10" lyric was proof that Dave Grohl was gay and I was all uh, no.)
posted by mrgrimm at 11:01 AM on April 11, 2011


Wasn't there some weirdness that came out about the Foo Fighters within the last year? They're scientologists or anti-gay marriage or something?
posted by desjardins at 11:01 AM on April 11, 2011


Wasn't there some weirdness that came out about the Foo Fighters within the last year? They're scientologists or anti-gay marriage or something?

They supported an organization called Alive & Well, which claims that HIV does not cause AIDS. Ah, also see their Wikipedia entry.

Grohl also recently "ripped" Glee, which gets him another 2 points in my book, but not enough to buy his albums yet. (freakout backstory)
posted by mrgrimm at 11:10 AM on April 11, 2011


@bwg: There was much speculation that the Hip's song "Escape Is At Hand For the Traveling Man" was about a chance encounter the Hip and Nirvana had when both were trying to break big in New York as the two openers on a triple bill.

(Google tells me that the song was actually about Jim Ellison of Material Issues who had a song covered by Courtney Love and, perhaps where the confusion comes from, also committed suicide in his garage.)
posted by Jaybo at 10:15 PM on April 12, 2011


Escape Is At Hand For The Traveling Man is just such a gorgeous, brilliant song. Mentioning it in a thread about Nirvana is really interesting, since Escape has, for me at least, the same sort of punch-to-the-chest impact that people keep mentioning here re: Nirvana songs, but in a far more artful, subtle, and beautiful way.
posted by The World Famous at 6:24 PM on April 13, 2011


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