I didn’t like Nirvana in the early 90s.
There, I said it.
At that time in my life I was on a pretty strict diet of Beatles, Beach Boys, Elvis, British Invasion, Mamas and Papas, Doors, Tommy James, Motown…that stuff.
There were a few modern bands I listened to but they weren’t “alternative.”
Then, around 1994, I got turned on to Pearl Jam and that was that. A dear friend got me into them and the Breeders, Counting Crows, 10,000 Maniacs, the Breeders and my eyes were open to what I think is an era that rivals the 60s in terms of incredible output in mainstream music.
But still…Nirvana wasn’t doing it for me.
I’m a contrarian. What can I say? They were SO big and so many people were shoving the whole “voice of a generation” thing down my throat that I just couldn’t get into it.
I even wrote a piece for the school paper about how overrated they were.
After Kurt died, and things settled down…now heading close to 2000, a friend turned me onto a couple songs I’d missed during their peak years and I was intrigued.
I started hearing their singles on the radio with fresh ears.
Now…as I approach 40, their music, Kurt’s voice, his lyrics, everything about them is as vibrant, as gut-punchingly brilliant and influential on me as anything can be.
I won’t get into whether or not he’s the voice of my generation but Kurt Cobain wrote music that really resonates with me and I feel both a sense of empathy and communion with him.
I can’t relate to being famous…but I understand what it’s like to feel like there are hands reaching out for me…all wanting something, all needing something, all expecting something.
I understand the pressure, whether self-imposed or not, to be something for someone, to be something different for everyone in your life because that’s what they need, demand, and require.
I understand what it’s like to want something so simple and so pure and not be able to have it…maybe I get to touch it, smell it, taste it…but not hold or keep it.
The contrarian in me is alive and well and perhaps that’s another reason why I enjoy Kurt and Nirvana so much…they were ultimate contrarians, content to say no when a yes would have been easy or to say yes when a no made more sense….sometimes I just can’t go along with things. I have to make them difficult, even if it seems like it’s just for the sake of doing so.
I would have loved to hear what Kurt would have done with his music and with his life…it would be interesting to see where he and I would be at this point in our lives…he’s not a ton older than me…11 years I think. At this age, 11 years isn’t as big a deal as it when you’re a kid from the suburbs listening to radio and bickering over baseball card values.
Anyway…so that’s my confession…I didn’t “get” Nirvana” back then…but I definitely do now.