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neurological dryer lint

dirty deeds... and the dunderchief

 

arrest myself and wear a shield

nirvana - nevermind

one of my favorite albums of all time was released fifteen years ago this sunday. at the time, twelve years old and beginning to discern between what music sucked (bryan adams, wilson phillips, madonna, mariah carey) and what rocked (C&C music factory, poison, fleetwood mac). i was starting to get tired of hair metal, dipping my feet into the water of heavy metal, but finding little satisfaction in anything.

i heard teen spirit on the radio in october, right around my birthday, and something clicked in my brain. this was it. they were so different from anything else, so nonchalantly revolutionary, accidentally wandering into vast success and setting in motion my generation's musical style.

so my tribute to this disc:

[1 - smells like teen spirit]: what can you say? one of the top five greatest rock & roll songs ever written. goofy lyrics, powerful, basic, 80's-punk-reminiscent riffs, and dave grohl at his best. you can't listen to this track and not feel some adrenaline.

[2 - in bloom]: aside from one of the funniest, most ironic and clever music videos ever, this song showcases kurt's stunning vocal range. the guy can murmur or scream and still sound phenominal.

[3 - come as you are]: i still get chills from the opening bassline of this song, someone injecting a sedative straight into my spine. i feel like a sullen teenager again. i go back and forth between thinking this version and the unplugged version is superior. again, they subtley walk the line between mellow and thrash. second fave for the whole album.

[4 - breed]: my appreciation for this song grew alongside of my appreciation for bleach - the fastest, most senseless song so far on the disc, a break from thinking into pure feeling.

[5 - lithium]: even though the tone and mood of each of these tracks doesn't technically change a whole lot, this band can make them sound 100% different from each other - a little less drum during the verse, a bridge louder and more aggressive than the rest of the song, and so on. this track drifts back and forth between anthemic screaming and contemplation. probably my third favorite track on the disc.

[6 - polly]: i remember how surprised i was at this track's presence when i first heard it. it didn't belong in this disc of heavy distortion and yelling. it's just guitar and bass. after years of pop music, i didn't get how beautiful vocals, acoustic guitar and a bass could sound, how less is so much more, more expressive and emotional (i was actually kinda pissed when i heard the incesticide fast version). i remember listening to this over and over again, trying to figure out who kurt was talking about, what he was trying to get across.

[7 - territorial pissings]: i loved loved loved the intro to this song, the way it mocked the classic rock culture i felt bathed in by rock radio in cincinnati (but that was later, not when i was twelve - at twelve i just liked how squeaky his voice got). i practice-drummed this with pencils for days in school.

[8 - drain you]: not sure but this song never stuck with me. felt like filler to me, still kinda does.

[9 - lounge act]: my favorite song on the disc, oft overlooked. felt so urgent, like kurt's trying to tell you something important and he just can't get it out. starts out so poppy, no distortion, very sing-song, and then just gets crazy. hits me in a special place, don't know why. screamed the heck out of the last verse/chorus while riding my bike to school freshman year.

[10 - stay away]: another senseless agressive song, again, not one i minded missing once in a while. if lithium is shakespeare, this song is a coloring book, but coloring books can be fun too.

[11 - on a plain]: fantastically addictive chorus and anthems in this sucker, love the lyrics and the fadeout humming at the end. "love myself better than you, i know it's wrong, so what should i do?". story of my life right there.

[12 - something in the way]: i give this song very little credit as i rarely finish the whole thing out - after listening to the rest of this disc i can't make it through all of it, it's so sad, expressing the futility of an empty and lonely life. it's a very quiet and beautiful song, and the last track is the only place it fits in. i always pictured this as kurt describing life in general, the human condition - an unseen thing interfering with real happiness and satisfaction.

so yeah, if you own this disc, give it a spin this week and reminisce with me.

 

for this post

 
Anonymous Anonymous Says:

That, my friend, was beautiful. It truly is one of the greatest and most important rock n roll albums of all time. Personally I'm a big fan of "Drain You", and after all the angst and rage Kurt throws at you during the whole album, there couldn't be a more fitting closing song than "Something In the Way".

I can't believe it's been fifteen years... I was six.

 
 
Blogger Simon Says:

Yes, "Nirvana is the best drummer"

Speaking of music that sucked, Matt Hemingway has finally made it big! I heard from Dustin who heard from Tonya. Any info on this?

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

their band's site might have some info.

www.blacktiebombers.com

 
 
Blogger B-Call Says:

wow, I totally forgot about Nirvana being the best drummer. Thanks Simon.
Justin, this is exactly how I feel about Whitesnake's first album. Gives me chills.

 
 
Blogger Nickolini Says:

cough cough...overrated...cough cough

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

nick you better be talking about whitesnake :)

 
 
Blogger Nickolini Says:

hell no...get off Kurt Cobain's nuts. I read an interview a few months back with Jeff Tweedy talking about how he was into the punk scene growing up and how the new "grunge" sounded like a watered down version of all of Nirvana's predecessors. He couldn't understand why people were so ga ga over Nirvana. Sorry Justin, I like Nirvana, but was never able to fully jump on the bandwagon. It was like a Hollywood story, c'mon the guy had his whole death planned from the beginning. I'm supposed to be impressed by that? I just don't see how Nirvana stands out from the rest of the crew fron that day. I'll take Alice in Chains, Smashing Pumpkins or Pearl Jam any day, over Kurt and his rejects. Over 10 years later and people are still buying the hype...sorry...not me.

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

i dont know man, i don't think you have to 'buy the hype' to enjoy the album. maybe kurt was tortured, maybe he was just a fraud (although i don't buy that theory). maybe billy corgan was a self-important lunatic with a planet-sized ego. that doesn't mean the pumpkins' music wasn't worth listening to.

and i don't think Nirvana and other bands of the same period / genre have to be mutually exclusive. i enjoy siamese dream, superunknown, ten, and jar of flies just as much as nevermind... so the real question is, how do you feel about the disc, not the band members?

 
 
Blogger Nickolini Says:

Don't get me wrong...I like the album. No complaints here. And I'm not just reacting to your praise...I'm just kind of tired of Nevermind being proclaimed as the album that changed rock (not your words, but that is usually the prevailing sentiment). And yes...Corgan does have an ego the size of Jupiter...but also (in my very humble opinion) has 10 times the musical talent that Cobain had. Honestly, nothing against Cobain and company. They put out a good rock album. They deserve kudos for that. I guess I'm just reacting to the rock media voices that think Nirvana could do no wrong. Maybe if Kurt had stuck around a while, he would have shown us what he could really do. And let's not forget the other suicide to come out of Nirvana....the Foo Fighters.

 
 
Anonymous Anonymous Says:

Yeah, Nirvana, what did they do other than knock Michael Jackson off the top off the charts and usher in a new (if short lived) era of great rock music dominating the pop world? Pfft...

 
 
Blogger Nickolini Says:

WOW...that's impressive....they knocked off Michael Jackson's "Dangerous." "It's black, it's white...yeah, yeah yeah." They didn't usher in anything, they made a significant contribution. Nevermind came out in Sept. 1991. Out before that...
Smashing Pumpkins "Gish" May '91
Alive in Chains "Facelift" Aug. '90
Pearl Jam "10" Aug '91
STP, Soundgarden also had albums around the same time. All made a contribution to music. I love these bands...but remember, they are all TOP 40, Q102 bands. There was so much other music going on that was under the radar. The best music today isn't on the radio. I stand by my opinion. Nirvana was good, but they were not the most important thing for rock.

 
 
Blogger B-Call Says:

hey now, don't even start on Foo Fighters.

 

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