It’s the 25th anniversary of Nirvana’s NEVERMIND and the music remains the same to me.
It’s September 24th,2016 and I just noticed this tidbit of news and it reminded me just how quickly time seems to pass. Looking at things in retrospect and thinking about all the things that have occurred in my life since the release of one of the most prolific and important albums of my generation.
Here’s an abbreviated list of everything that’s happened in my life in the 25 years since Nirvana’s NEVERMIND was released:
Finished Elementary and Middle School, Started wearing Cardigan Sweaters, grew my hair long, learned how to play guitar, had green hair, got my learner’s permit, played in like a gazillion bands, graduated high school, experienced 9/11, interned at Crossgen comics, had an ill-fated 10 year relationship that ended up being both a trainwreck marriage and a bitter divorce, Subsequently had 4 amazing kids from said trainwreck marriage, an ill-fated run in Full Sail Vocational School, Spent years trying to figure out my life, slept on many futons, couches, back seats and even a park slide, became a pro wrestler, had some dark times, moved all over the country from Florida to Chicago, from Nevada, to South Carolina, succeeded as a musician but was not fulfilled, learned that money doesn’t make me happy, got arrested, lost my grandfather, Promoted pro wrestling shows, met an amazing person who has stuck with me through a break-up and into friendship, while becoming the mother my kids have always deserved (Brandy), lost my aunt/alternative parent Tonya, developed a sleep disorder.ran another wrestling promotion, pursued a career in comics, published my first work, got national recognition, worked hard to continue on course, met another amazing girl who deals with my insanity on a daily basis and all with a smile (Aly Kat), worked on characters I grew up watching on TV, and the list goes on and on and on….
Of course, reading that, and not going (TL;DR), still, doesn’t make me feel nearly as old as the undeniable realization that such an important piece of art from my childhood has officially turned 25 today. As a kid, who was actually a huge fan from the age of around 7 (My uncle Billy and cousinTim had me banging my head to Bleach by then), during an era where “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was on everyone’s lips, and Nirvana ruled the world. I can admit it always seemed impossible that this music would ever age; largely in part because everything about Cobain’s music seemed so of the moment, so raw, and important and young!
A lot of it was, in part, due to the fact that everything Cobain was becoming(whether he wanted to or not): An Icon, Voice of the generation, a Messiah even? I’ve said it for years, he always represented some sort of Truth in angst. He made you feel like you could fight an entire nation on your own, with just your determination and sheer grit of your teeth.
That, of course, is the stuff you believe when you’re too young to know better. NEVERMIND to me was complete musical freedom, it ripped up all the mainstream formula that I always felt was so superficial and passe’. (80’s hairbands), The opening Guitar riff of “Teen Spirit” completely changed an entire decade and was a nuclear bomb that cleared the musical landscape for the first time in a decade.
Love it or hate it, the 90’s was an interesting time for music.
… all of it seemed to have happened almost by accident, because, surely, no band was capable of doing it willingly. Nirvana was like nothing I’d ever heard, experienced, or felt. Mostly because I was 10 years old, but then, almost as if it was his duty, Cobain led me deeper down the rabbit hole, I wouldn’t love so many random bands if not for the expansion in taste I gained by listening to Cobain talk up bands like Shonen Knife, The Melvins, Mudhoney, Butthole Surfers (pre-pepper), Bikini Kill, The Sex Pistols, Dead Boys, Clash, Ramones, Sonic Youth, etc. ETC. ETC!
All because Cobain said he liked them. NEVERMIND made me seek out new music, to listen to stuff no one I knew had ever even heard of.
I would suffer through 20 mins of Dial-Up load time (yes kids, with Dial-up you had to wait) just to hear .wav files of these bands. NEVERMIND changed my life, it connected me to music in a much more deep and personal way, which has led me down the roads I feel I have walked to become the man I am today. Good, Bad, etc.
I guess you can understand why it’s so insane to me that the first album to ever change my life (not to mention many others), is turning 25 this weekend. The true beauty of NEVERMIND is, of course, two decades later, it does not sound old in any capacity. It is a rare album that still can open up new ideas and thoughts with each track. When I listen to it these days, I get struck with just how incredibly loyal it is to so many styles and types of music. Punkish Guitar riffs, bluesy lyrics and bass lines, distorted thrash solos and catchy Beatles style hooks. As a three piece band, Nirvana was by far one of the best all around. Sadly, I find myself able to look in the songs and find the pessimism of the lyrics, bold (The finest day I ever had, is when I learned to cry on command) and subtle (Something in the way, oooohhhhh). You can look at them both literally and figuratively. As you get older, you realize there is always “something in the way”, and more often than not, whatever that something seems nearly insurmountable.
I’d like to assume that listening to NEVERMIND as a 33-year-old will be a lot like it was for a 33-year-old to hear it in 1991. Been around long enough to remember the good, but mortified that the bad stuff keeps coming with age. Listening to something visceral and vibrant, something compelling and new that makes you believe you’re not alone in all the shit.
I don’t even have to be talking about music right now. I have hope that before I die, I will get to experience in full force as an adult the effect of an album on par with NEVERMIND . The youth in me holds out for that, Even if I’m old enough to know better.