Nirvana Appreciation Thread

Discussion in 'Music to Your Ears' started by ElJay370, Sep 5, 2019.

  1. ElJay370

    ElJay370 Tele-Holic

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    Came across an old flash drive with some of my music blog writings from a few years ago....


    My parents got divorced shortly after I graduated high school. This sudden but not unprecedented turn of events resulted in my mother plunging deep into the throes of a full blown midlife crisis. So in the fall of 1988 she packed her things, gave the finger to the whole world, and ran off to live in Los Angeles. Not having much of anything to hang around for, and attracted by the sun and sand, I decided to tag along with her.

    I felt very alone and isolated in my new environment, and went on a desperate search for some new friends. Being that I already looked like kind of a dirthead, I easily fell in with a group of long haired headbangers. A typical evening for us usually consisted of punishing our cerebral cortexes with beer and various other illicit substances, listening to the loudest, fastest, most aggressive music we could find, and launching ourselves off of the furniture into a howling pile of drunken testosterone. Speed and thrash metal weren't really my thing. I leaned more towards prog rock and spaced-out hippie jams. But being a young budding guitar player, I was at least able to appreciate the musicianship and commitment to authenticity. And maybe I did have a little bit of adolescent rage left in me. Plus, I'd found a crowd where I was liked and accepted. So I put away my Moody Blues records, threw my tie dyed t-shirts in the garbage, and got into the pit.

    By 1991 or 92, at my mom's gentle encouragement ("School or a job. Pick one."), I enrolled at the local community college. Among other things that caught my attention ("Holy crap, there are girls here.") I noticed a new type of rock music emerging. It had all the loud guitars of big, dumb 70's rock and the channeled aggression of metal, but none of the slick production or macho posturing. It seemed less pretentious...more organic.

    One day, while listening to a radio station I'd found on the far left of the dial that played this music you didn't hear on any of the big commercial stations (yet), a song caught my ear. It was one minute and 57 seconds of sneering, stumbling rock and roll. The guitar tone was cheap and nasty, the drums sounded like wet cardboard boxes, and the guy singing sounded bored...but like he was pissed off about it...or bored of being pissed off about it...or something. The entire song was just two chords and the same verse repeated over and over. There was no guitar solo. I shouldn't have liked anything about it.

    The song was called "Molly's Lips", and I was absolutely enthralled.

    I was amazed at how this band swept all pretense off of the table. How they took the idea that playing rock music was something best left to trained professionals and cast it aside with an ironic smirk. They had none of what the music classified ads called a "pro image". They had no image at all. They wore ripped up jeans and thrift store t-shirts. They didn't look like rock stars, they looked like homeless mutants. There was all kinds of noise, feedback, and cross talk in their recordings, reminding me of the garage boombox tapes I made with my own bands. I appreciated how their lyrics were about deeper, more personal things like alienation and loneliness...because these were real things that I myself regularly experienced. All the heavy metal I had grown to love almost instantly became juvenile, contrived, and silly. I stopped being so concerned about whether or not I had enough knowledge or skill to write my own songs and play my own music and just did it. Who cared if my gear was trash, all I knew were barre chords, and I couldn't play million note solos? Nirvana showed me that those things weren't important. What mattered was honesty.

    A short time later, "Nevermind" exploded.

    My friends and I traded our chains and studded leather jackets for flannels and Chuck Taylors. Nirvana was our gateway to tons of other new bands that had the same kind of energy. It was obvious that members of the "old guard" like Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, and Led Zeppelin absolutely played a role in shaping their sound, but elements of new wave, punk rock, and 60's garage bands were also added to the mix, distilling it into something that seemed fresh and new. It was all the good stuff about heavy rock music, filtered through the lens of alienated, art-damaged kids from broken homes, without any of the embarassing sexism or Dungeons & Dragons goofiness. We sang and slammed along.

    Until....

    The spectacle of stardom, scandal, and drugs surrounding the sad, angry boy from Aberdeen reached a tragic conclusion.

    It shocked everyone, but surprised no one.

    We would soldier on, but all the momentum was gone. The party was over.

    The more jaded and cynical may have chose to point out that Beatlesque-melodies-but-louder were nothing new, or dismissed them as little more than the most recent incarnation of Cheap Trick or The Knack, but I don't believe that gives them enough credit. Kurt Cobain's death left a void that has yet to be filled. Not because his band's music was especially innovative or groundbreaking in and of itself, but because no one has turned the popular notion of what's acceptable or "correct" on it's head since. By fearlessly taking all of their influences, throwing them in a blender, and dumping them out on to the world, Nirvana gave everyone a much needed reminder that the best rock and roll is messy, reckless, and unfiltered.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
  2. Lawdawg

    Lawdawg Tele-Holic

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    @ElJay370 -- that's a really well written and thoughtful post. Glad you dug it up and shared it!

    We're the same age, but coming from the alternative/indie/punk scene my experience with Nirvana was a bit different than yours. Still, Cobain was a tremendous loss and I think his best work was ahead of him.
     
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  3. TeleTex82

    TeleTex82 Friend of Leo's

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    I am a bit younger, I was still in 7th grade when Cobain died. Around the time In Utero came out I began to experience the the symptoms of what I would later learn to be manic depression and bipolar disorder. I remember listening to songs like All Apologies and Penny Royal Tea and for the first time sort of understanding Kurt Cobain's songs and it helped me feel less alone with these new and frightening feelings.

    His death felt massive, even among our small group of naive and inexperienced kids who pretended to know what the songs were about, until we did.
     
  4. Brad Pittiful

    Brad Pittiful Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    like many east coasters...i didnt know of nirvana until i heard teen spirit...first hear and i loved it...i won the cassette and cd (not at the same time) from a small radio show...watched every time they were on tv...didnt get into their earlier stuff till kurt died...and didnt feel the same about in utero like nevermind...i was an old punk...and the punk roots sound of nevermind was awesome and in utero was a let down to me
     
  5. Tidepoolbay

    Tidepoolbay Friend of Leo's

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    I remember hearing Nirvana on WFMU when the first album came out. A Great Band!
     
  6. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    I remember hearing Bleach when it came out, and thinking it was a real stinker- these guys were no Tad or Mudhoney, that was for sure. I used to play "Floyd The Barber" on my radio show as a joke. Time has not altered my assessment of the record (although "About A Girl" and their cover of "Love Buzz" are ace tracks).

    About a year later, a friend told me Nirvana had just been the subject of a major label bidding war and I couldn't believe it. We were at a bar, and he went and put "Sliver" on the juke and suddenly it all made sense.

    The only one of their records I can listen to any more is In Utero, which to me is Nirvana's crowning achievement. I really don't know what else Kurt had in the tank after that, but even if they never made another good record it would have been nice if he was still around.
     
  7. FenderGyrl

    FenderGyrl Friend of Leo's

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    I was playing Hair Metal Rock with my band. All originals.
    We weren't as campy as a lot of the bands at the time.
    Meaning we weren't Head Bangers Ball Pin Up Posers.

    We were very dark sounding. Had a cult following of hardcore people from fringe elements. We toured and set up base down south. Marilyn Manson played the same clubs as us.

    Then...
    Everything changed. Grunge...the sound. The crowd.
    It was shocking how fast everyone jumped on the bandwagon.

    The Misadventure seemed to have grown also. Lots of casualties.
    I lost my drummer. We were the core of the band.
    I found myself lost at sea.

    Spend years playing cover music with Grunge Bands.
    At least there were bars and clubs riding the wave.
    Made.money...drowned my sorrows and frustration.

    Around this time...some of us seasoned players ended up forming a band around a younger Chris Cornell- Kurt Cobain personality singer songwriter. The little **** had mad skills when it came to writing and fronting the band. We were all riding high. He had the Grunge Magic Style good looks good voice good hooks...

    Albums worth of material...gigs lined up...studio time being comped...
    All was right with the world...a Second Chance...Man Oh Man

    Then...fate dealt us a blow. The young gun was lured by the dark part of everyone telling him that he was on his way. He trusted the wrong friends. Well he thought they were friends.

    I got the call.
    I made the phone calls to the rest of the band.

    We went to the the rehearsal space a few days later to remove our equipment.
    No one said anything. We just packed up and one by one we left.

    We all felt the same. To have something so promising just get ripped away from you.
    A few of the guys stopped playing. I took a break. Never really recovered from it.
    I still have the recordings.

    The Grunge Wave seemed to bring a lot of darkness along with it.
    I know that "H" has been around forever among musicians, but it seemed to be like a Club Patch for the scene.

    Oh Well. Whatever, Nevermind.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2019
  8. PlainAllman

    PlainAllman Tele-Holic

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    I never got into Nirvana much at the time. I do enjoy some of it, especially the unplugged album, now. I did get a little more into Pearl Jam though. While I recognize the obvious impacts of the whole grunge movement on music in general it all just seemed to go by so quick.
    Good article, thanks for sharing.
     
  9. Brad Pittiful

    Brad Pittiful Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    i never enjoyed the unplugged series...except for the cure...and nirvana...and the nirvana unplugged was even unplugged...they were using acoustics with pickups...and pedals...thats nirvana...oh you want us on unplugged

    nirvana sets up...
    what are the amps for nirvana mtv loser asked?
    for us to plug into said nirvana
    but the series is called unplugged mtv loser asks
    not tonight said nirvana

    https://www.cbc.ca/radio/q/blog/nir...-facts-about-the-landmark-live-show-1.4908315

    then this person in the article said
    secret...its so obvious it was plugged in and a distortion pedal was used
     
  10. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

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    When Nirvana first came out, buying their release felt like being a part of some kind of underground resistance.
    Ditto GnR.
    That's what rock is supposed to feel like.

    I miss that.

    Am I old? Sure.

    But who has filled these shoes?

    It's been what, 30 years now?

    What do we got? Green Day?
     
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  11. Lawdawg

    Lawdawg Tele-Holic

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    Your experience is quite similar to mine, and 100% agree about In Utero -- his songwriting and especially his lyrics took a huge step forward on that last record. I tend to think Cobain had plenty left in the tank if he had survived his demons, but sadly we'll never know.
     
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  12. archtop_fjk

    archtop_fjk Tele-Holic

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    I'm doing an acoustic gig tonight and will be playing a solo version of "Come As You Are". Great song that translates well to acoustic guitar.

    I remember when Nirvana first came on the scene in the early nineties, but really have grown to appreciate the power and simplicity of their music in recent years. Glad that Dave Grohl has been able to keep their musical legacy going with the Foo Fighters.
     
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  13. IronSchef

    IronSchef Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

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    really cool post, @ElJay370 ! Thanks for sharing :)
     
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  14. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    I was never a Nirvana fan. But I'm eternally grateful to them for helping to open up mainstream radio/MTV to bands that I am a huge fan of. That, and killing off late 80s hairbands once and for all. I feel some vindication in that. Still bitter about that era. I was in HS during the late 80s. Mainstream rock should have not been allowed to suck as much as it did during my formative years.
     
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  15. kLyon

    kLyon Tele-Meister

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    I remember playing in a Black Sea side club, a huge one, in Odessa, Ukraine a few summers back. After we finished our set it turned into a disco; it was packed: maybe a thousand kids dancing. EDM. Loud, crazy.
    Then Smells Like Teen Spirit came on. Not a remix, nothing added, not an ironic cover. the original.
    The place went absolutely crazy. Kids who hadn't been born until nearly a decade after Kurt died were being moved by the same thing we were when we first heard Nirvana.
    It was a telling experience.
     
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  16. Fendereedo

    Fendereedo Friend of Leo's

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    Saw Nirvana twice, luckily. I don't think many bands have had an effect on me like they did, and in my reckoning there hasn't been a band as life changing as them in the past, nearly 30 years.
     
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  17. Lawdawg

    Lawdawg Tele-Holic

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    Bet it sounds great! A lot of Cobain's material translates well across genres which is the hallmark of a great songwriter. Sturgill Simpson's cover of "In Bloom" gives me chills:

     
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  18. ifallalot

    ifallalot Tele-Afflicted

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    I was 11 when Nirvana broke big. That band opened up everything in my life that came after. It was my musical awakening
     
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  19. ElJay370

    ElJay370 Tele-Holic

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    Green Day gave me hope, and their hearts were certainly in the right place....but they were just too childish and goofball for me to take seriously. They were like Nirvana's bratty little cousin.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
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  20. PlainAllman

    PlainAllman Tele-Holic

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    Cobain was a talented musician and songwriter. With that said I have to rain on the parade a bit. I know he had his issues from childhood and substance abuse but I honestly think his ultimate demise stemmed from not being able to reconcile his own twisted world view and experience with reality.
     
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