Most people don’t believe me when I say I’ve been a Nirvana fan since I was 5. They think I’m trying to be hip or cool, but it’s true. Granted, I wasn’t listening to their albums at that age, but they are responsible for my first memory. Like most 90’s kids I was raised by TV. Some of my best memories involve me sitting down to watch my favorite cartoons. But there is one memory that sticks out in my mind the most.
For some reason the TV was on MTV (yes, they were still playing music at this time) and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came on. I don’t think my young mind paid attention to the lyrics or even the music very much. But I distinctly remember wiggling around, trying to dance with everyone else in the video. I also remember seeing nothing but a mass of blond hair shaking around in a cloud of smoke. I don’t know why, but I liked the video a lot. Even my mom said so; I had to watch it every time it came on. Of course with the advent of boy bands and pop music I forgot about the song later on when I got a little older. But a part of it and the memory stayed with me during all that time. It wasn’t until around 8th grade where I re-discovered Nirvana. And I was hooked.
I wanted to get every CD, every video, every book about them. I wanted to know everything about the band and the inspirational front man Kurt Cobain. Of course this got me labeled as one of the followers; the people who only like Nirvana because it’s cool. But I didn’t see it that way. There was something about the band that felt special to me as I’m sure it felt special to every teenager in 1991. There’s something about the music that makes you feel connected to the band, whether you relate to the lyrics or the music just inspires you to pick up a guitar of your own. There’s just something special that the band has that makes them so legendary and influential and I felt it.
The music was amazing and so catchy at times I couldn’t help but get sucked in, but the guys were also likeable as people and that really spoke to me. Everyone knows now that Dave Grohl is one of the nicest guys in rock and roll and Krist Novoselic is pretty political, but a really smart guy who just wants equal rights for everyone. Again, another nice guy. It was the same story for Kurt. I loved that this band made this heavy, hard hitting rock music, yet they stood up for gay and women’s rights. I’ve heard countless stories where Cobain would say if you’re homophobic, sexist, or racist don’t even bother becoming a Nirvana fan. It seemed like a lot of mainstream bands at the time, especially ones from Aberdeen, weren’t expressing the same opinions. Sure, all of that makes sense today and we have musicians everyday saying how equality is important, but that didn’t seem to be the case in the early 90’s. The whole thing made me like the band more, not just as talented musicians, but as people.
We all know how Kurt and Nirvana’s story ends; I don’t need to recap it for you here. It’s been almost 20 years since he’s been gone. I’m sure Cobain’s demise hurts everyone from his family, friends, to his fans to this day. We shouldn’t argue about murder vs suicide, giving up, or arguing about how he left his daughter behind. Because when you get right down to it, he’s gone; the arguing doesn’t bring him back. But we can still remember him and band by listening to the amazing music they have given us. Also, the spirit of the band is still alive in music today. Just look at groups like Cage the Elephant, Dead Sara, and Muse. The influence may not be outright, but there are elements that made Nirvana so great in each and every one of them, whether it’s their dynamic energy on stage or the classic loud/quiet/loud technique. So fans shouldn’t weep. Let’s just put on our favorite Nirvana album and remember what a great band they were.
And thanks Kurt, Kris, and Dave for giving me one of my first and favorite memories.