November 13, 2012
I woke up this morning with Nevermind on the brain. Well, that’s not exactly true. I woke up this morning, made some coffee, took the dog out for a walk and looked at twitter (is that how one interacts with Twitter? What is the proper nomenclature?), where I discovered via a Pitchfork tweet that Sub Pop Co-Founder, Bruce Pavitt has released an ebook of never-before-seen photographs of Nirvana on their first European tour.
While I was skeptical and a little bit pissed off by the idea at first, I’m glad I took a look at the article and the few pictures that came with it. Yes, the Nirvana cow has been milked almost completely dry: a video game put out not too long ago in which one can make the Cobain avatar sing Bon Jovi tunes for goodness’ sake. Even some of the ‘boxed sets’ Courtney’s put out whenever she needs an ego boost have only tarnished the fallen burning star of the most important band of the nineties.
But for some reason, those pictures took me back. Strangely, I think it’s because I haven’t seen them before. These are not iconic images of Kurt, images such as the profile of our beloved, reluctant ‘rock star’ clad in a sweater which was taken at the Unplugged in New York Show and accompanies his name and his dates on many a t-shirt. These are not fixed, iconic shots: they breathe. Most of the images of an impossibly young kid, who is obviously thrilled by being in Europe on tour.
These pictures got me singing. I sang Lithium in the shower, much to the shagrin of my wife who was still trying to sleep. After drying myself off a bit, I immediately ran to my computer and loaded Bleach and Nevermind only my iPhone and listened to the first side of the latter as I got ready for work. Again, my wife was nonplussed by the volume by which I indulged my photographic induced craving.
Beware: I’m about to get a bit nostalgic here. A tide of memories washed over me as I listened to Nevermind for the first time, probably in years. I first heard Smells Like Teen Spirit when I was in grade seven. My neighbor, Jory made me a mix tape, no doubt hoping to rescue me from my musical ignorance (I was brought up almost exclusively on The Nylons and the Beaches soundtrack, and though my dad had Harvest Moon, and a couple Patsy Cline records, I detested them). Smells Like Teen Spirit was the first track on the spool; it’s as far as I got.
I played, rewound and replayed that song countless times. I knew that I could fit two listens in each way to and from school if I walked slow enough and the battery was strong enough to do an expedient job of rewinding. That was about the extent of my exposure to Nirvana for months; the rest of the tape was filled with other oddities… I sat watching Much Music for hours in hopes of more Nirvana, but they too seemed to only have the one song.
Maybe that’s why I can’t really listen to that song anymore (I forgot to mention that I skipped the album’s first track when I listened this morning). It’s kinda sad. I wish I could listen to it again for the first time; but that’s over now.
Thankfully, I’ve had several similar experiences since then. Over the past several years, I’ve had the great fortune to listen to a lot of music; I go through ‘conversion’-type experiences annually, if not more often. But some people are not so fortunate. I think a lot of people get stuck, as evidenced by all those classic rock stations that play “Heartbreaker” three times an hour, or people who still get excited about a new Soundgarden album, claiming it brings rock and roll back to where it should be.
I would genuinely encourage such people to rediscover music. It takes work, sometimes, but the hunt is well worth it. Go to your local record store: ask the friendly people working there what they’d recommend. Yes, Nirvana is good; I hope to enjoy them on my very death bed (if my wife will allow), but there is so much more. Go explore. Oh, and support the Fort too (they’ll be able to point you in some tasty music directions if we give them the chance).