Friday, September 23, 2011

Nirvana Beyond The Hype Of "Nevermind"

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the release of the first major label record by the seminal grunge band Nirvana, titled "Nevermind."  All of the praise today in the press about Nirvana's impact on popular music (and how they "changed music forever") conspicuously omits to mention, however, that they were in many ways a punk band whose live shows were far more dissonant than the heavily produced tracks on "Nevermind." 

I remember going to a Nirvana concert within the first few months of the release of "Nevermind" and complaining afterward that they had not played their #1 hit single "Smells Like Teen Spirit."  All I really saw at their live show was three scruffy guys who stared down at their shoes the whole time, while playing music that came out of the amplifiers like an angry cacophony of white noise, one song almost indistinguishable from the next.

As Nirvana became more and more famous, I used to tell this story all the time. And then, years later, after Kurt Cobain's suicide, a greatest hits album of sorts was released, featuring all live tracks.  And the version of their most famous hit, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," included on that record was recorded at the show I'd attended.

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