It Was 23 Years Ago Today: Nirvana's "Nevermind" Is Released!


I still can't quite figure out why I responded to this album with a yawn on initial listen, maybe it was because the band's obvious nods to Killing Joke and the Pixies felt more like theft to my musical moral compass at the time.  You must remember that Nirvana weren't gods then, the name Kurt Cobain meant nothing to me, and, well, they looked like fucking slobs.

Then a month later, I was driving along when "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was played on the local rock station that would normally not play anything this edgy.  I literally pulled the car over and just let to that song rock my world.  Once I got home, I dug through my pile of promo cassettes to see if that song had been on Nevermind.  But I had sold it to Dr. Wax a couple wees prior.

I went to the store the next day to buy another copy and they didn't have any in stock.  Neither did the other five stores I hit that day.  I went so far as to haul ass to one of those awful suburban malls and found a copy at Musicland.  It wasn't the cool Musicland like in the '80s, but the glitzy "Hey, we sell movies too" version that ultimately went the way of the dodo bird.


(the band performing in the UK a month before Nevermind is released.)

For the next six months, it never left my tape deck.  It was an album that everybody had, it seemed. Remember when everybody was reading "The DaVinci Code"?  Nevermind was so prevalent and all encompassing that it washed all the tired remnants of the '80s - the Firehouses and the MC Hammers - out to sea.  Years, later, I read an article about the seismic success of the album and one of the guys from hair band Trixter was venting about how Nirvana's success had ruined their career before it ever got a chance to begin.  My first response to reading that was "Um, no, you being on MCA is what killed your career," but I knew where they were coming from.

One minute, power ballads and lip gloss were cool and the next minute everybody looked like they'd just gotten off work from the local garage.

While "Teen Spirit" gets all the attention, Nevermind is one of those albums that works as a whole - so much so that I've never really distinguished between the songs, considering the album one continuous conceptual work.  To put it most simply, it was the sound of someone kicking their own ass, which was nothing new, but the music had never been this immediate, and with a perfect command of ebb and flow.

Truth be told, I don't listen to the album much anymore.  I know it so well that it no longer holds any mystery...until I play it and think "fuck mystery, this is some solid motherfucking rock & roll."

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