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.
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.[youtube:http://youtu.be/PbgKEjNBHqM%5D
But I still cannot understand a word they’re saying.
- HFL Celebrates 20 Years of Nevermind (hifilives.com)
- Seattle museum showcase is a rock fan’s nirvana (travelnews.britishairways.com)
- INTERVIEW: Nirvana’s Nevermind album turns 20 (cbc.ca)
- Reaching the Nirvana of contextualisation (seevl.net)
- Spirit of the times (theage.com.au)
- Remembering Nirvana’s Nevermind (cbc.ca)
- Rock Band Weekly: Nirvana 4-pack, 10 pro guitar upgrades (joystiq.com)
- You: Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ turns 20 (france24.com)
- Between the Grooves of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ (Feature) (popmatters.com)
- The Enduring 20-Year Legacy of Nirvana’s Nevermind (blogcritics.org)