February 22, 2012


Say the word Seattle and the first thing I'll think of is music. Music from my senior year in high school and freshman year in college. Flannel, ripped jeans and Doc Martens. And grunge. I'll think of Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Green River, Screaming Trees, Malfunkshun, Mother Love Bone, Gruntruck, Mudhoney, Skin Yard, Tad, Pearl Jam, Brad, Alice In Chains...and Nirvana.

You can't think of the whole Seattle phenomenon without thinking of Nirvana. And yet whenever I look back fondly on all that Seattle music, make nostalgic playlists of grunge, lace up the 8-hole Doc Martens that I bought in 1993 and are still awesomely wearable today, I tend to avoid Nirvana.

I never really connected with Nirvana and I'm not sure why. Like every good flannel-wearing grunge fan, there was a period of time when Nevermind was on steady rotation. But instead of devoting years to the album I probably only gave it a month or two. Frankly, I never thought it lived up to the hype. Lithium was the best, most overlooked song on the album that received almost no radio airplay. And Nevermind itself paled in comparison to its predecessor Bleach. Sure, I own all their albums, collected their singles, and hunted down rare bootlegs and Japanese imports but that's because I felt like I should. In my mind there was just much better music out there.

Kurt Cobain was a deeply troubled guy. But - despite the fact that they're never going to go down as my most favorite band - Nirvana, and Kurt, deserve some credit. Without them, the music scene wouldn't be quite the same as it is today. They opened doors to a whole genration of shoegazing, cardigan-wearing, Fender-abusing kids who played endlessly in their parents' garages. Trust me, I was one of them.

Kurt would have been 45 yesterday.

Posted by Chris at February 22, 2012 7:22 AM

Man, Nirvana. They precipitated a change in music that made my college years a black hole of new music acquisition. I like a little Pearl Jam and most Mother Love Bone. In fact, Pearl Jam was introduced to me as "hey, a couple of the Mother Love Bone guys are in this new band..." But I've never loved grunge. I can't relate to it. Musically, I wandered rudderless through college, and I don't think I bought a new CD the whole time. I bought new CDs by bands I'd loved in high school (Foreigner's Mr Moonlight) and tons of compilation CDs since digital music wasn't at all mainstream. I am angry with Nirvana for topping the rock I loved. But they sure did a hell of a job. You gotta admire that seismic shift if nothing else.

Posted by: Brooke at February 22, 2012 1:47 PM

I went to Seattle last summer and they had this HUGE tribute to Nirvana in their Experience Music Project museum. I went through and looked at it, but I'm not a Nirvana fan. I was too young when Nirvana was around. I like some of their music, and going through the museum, I have a new found respect for the band and the things they did - outside of Kurt. I just can't have respect for Kurt Cobain.

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