Author Archives: I Think Not

A Mosquito. I’m a Beatle. YEAH! (more words on Nirvana)


A lot of noise has been made about the fact that, round about 20 years ago, an album was released by some greasy kids representing a budding genre of rock music defined by distorted power chords, shouted lyrics, and anger.

I was nine, a newly-baptized Southern Baptist Jesushead–and I was oblivious to grunge.

Don’t misunderstand me — I was not sheltered from [what I then called] secular music. In the car, we had two radio stations — Sunny 100 (mom in the car) and Rock 103, neither of which were Jesus music stations. I’m not sure one even existed in the hooch valley back in the early 90s. If one did, we didn’t listen to it.

So basically, I grew up to a mix of oldies and pop from mom, and classic rock from dad. Though Rock 103 was not a classic rock station, my dad would only turn up the volume when he heard music made by bands that were in their prime when he was in his prime — late 60s to early 80s. Zeppelin, Jimi, Cream, The Who, Queen, Santana, CCR, Skynyrd, Aerosmith, Allman Brothers, Wet Willie, Grand Funk, Rush, Yes, Kansas (how prophetic…), Journey, and a host of others. These bands were the rock royalty against which I judged anything else I heard.

Nirvana wasn’t really even on my radar until much, much later in life. I’d left behind the Praise Jesus Bible thumpin’, but never the classic rock. Though the old gods remain strongest, I’ve found a few newer rock deities at whose altars I’d offer thanks, though my focus tends toward individual musicians rather than bands — Jack White, David Grohl, Flea, Vic Wooten, and Robert Randolph to name a few, and some leftovers from my dad’s era, like John Paul Jones, Eddie Van Halen, Dickey Betts, Carlos Santana, and Geddy Lee.

Nirvana, speaking primarily through power chords, was an affront to everything I knew to be worthy in rock. Complex melodies, impossibly fast and technical solos — those are supposed to be the hallmarks of a great guitar band. Seeing that Nirvana was a three-piece group, I understood why their music was simple — the lead singer was also the only guitar player. Instead of doing one thing and doing it incredibly well, he was trying to do two things at once while performing.

Thus, mediocrity.

I am no stranger to live music performance. Long before those fakemusic games came out, I was playing bass guitar with church bands and rock bands. Being only a mediocre player at best, I never tried to do more than play my four or five strings.

So Nirvana sort of offended me on a fundamental level. They seemed to be choosing to be half-ass.

Then along comes Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and music turned into a game that anyone could play. In Bloom featured the best bass riff on the album and there it was for me to play. I even dabbled in drums for the first time. Simple rock turned out to be a lot more fun to fakeplay than to listen to.


But I still cannot understand a word they’re saying.


A couple of years ago, as I made the short drive home with the divine future Mrs. Kiefer at my side, we were treated to the intense rhythmic chanting of a rising pop superstar courtesy of our local top-40 pop station.

At that moment, we were not aware it was someone new. The music was dance-able. The lyrics were a scathingly sarcastic treatment of what we believed to be the typical evening of the loosely-moraled club-going crowd. We bantered back and forth about who it was, pointing out inflections and styles we thought to be signature of Gaga or Perry. Who could pull off this brilliantly satirical, self-parodying song?

At the close of the song, we were crushed when the station DJ neglected to speak the name or the title of the song. Left in the dark, we quickly forgot about it and started singing along with the next song.

A short time later, while cleaning the house, we were tuned into the pop cable music station, and again comes the song! This time — thanks to the on-screen information provided by Comcast — we saw, we learned, we smiled.

Ke$ha, it was.

Okay… who? To the internet!

As that repository of all things possibly true revealed, it was not for no reason that we could not agree who Ke$ha sounded like. She sounds like every pop singer, having demonstrated her backup vocal talent for such household names as Paris Hilton and Flo Rida. However, armed with a notebook bursting with her own creations, the time came for this budding star to take her place among the giants of entertainment.

Her debut single, entitled Tik-Tok, first startled the sleepy pop nation into awareness in late summer 2009. Half-sung, half-rapped, Tik-Tok deconstructs the deplorable, self-destructive lifestyle of a broke, shameless twenty-something woman whose lifestyle revolves around the practice known as “clubbing.” While clearly an outsider observing this walking wasteland of humanity, Ke$ha nonetheless manages to step into the shoes of this depraved club-goer and presents us with a beautifully tragic portrait of a woman trapped in a cycle from which it is implied that the only possible escape may be death or imprisonment.

The remainder of Ke$ha’s extensive musical library contains similar glimpses into the drug, drink, and debauchery-filled life of this young woman. While one may dance to the beat and thoughtlessly ape the lyrics, I implore you to take a moment to be still and absorb the words of Ke$ha. As Waylon Jennings once admonished the country fans of the world concerning cowboys: Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be club-goers.

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Find more artists like Ke$ha at Myspace Music.