Yesterday, I encountered a lot of stuff (tweets, fb posts, public radio features, etc.) related to Nirvana and R.E.M. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Nevermind, and in case you managed to miss it, R.E.M. announced their break-up on Wednesday.
As a person who researches “alternative” music (obligatory disclaimer acknowledging the contentious and multiple meanings of “alternative” and other genre categories), I can’t help but owe a debt to both of these bands and appreciate their roles in popular music history. The “alt” of alt.country is a (not-so-distant) cousin of the genre designation/lucrative marketing category that these two bands (in addition to countless others) helped create.
At the time, that is in the ’90s,* I wasn’t really into these two bands (although my first ‘big’ concert was R.E.M. at Rupp Arena for the Monster tour). I didn’t NOT like them, but in retrospect, it would have been much cooler for present-day me had I been bigger fans of both bands at the time.
Nevertheless, based on all the hubbub, I decided to listen to the entirety of Nevermind today (thanks, Spotify), and ended up spending more time with Nirvana than I had planned (professional procrastinator). I was surprised that I knew the album–and not just the famous songs/released radio singles. Maybe I had the cassette tape, but in any event, apparently I listened to this album way more than I remember.
It is impossible to separate all of the information I know about the band, Kurt Cobain, and the band and album’s place in popular music history from my listening experience today, but wow, I loved it. I’ve read that Cobain hated the “over-produced” sound of this album, but I think it still sounds pretty visceral, raw, and powerful, and anywhere from a little to a lot punk. I’ve mentioned before here that the aesthetics of “indie” and/or “punk” speak to me, and even though this is much more produced than <insert your favorite punk/indie band here> or even Nirvana’s debut album Bleach, it’s still rockin’ pretty hard (consider also that this album is always mentioned in the context of Michael Jackson on the pop charts).
So here’s a snippet to remind you…
If you haven’t heard Nevermind in its entirety in a while, I’m pretty sure you’re going to bump into it in the near future (cf. special 20th anniversary cd’s, dvd, boxed sets, etc.). Either way, give it a listen. And even if you don’t like it, you can appreciate it’s historical importance in relation to my research.
*I apologize for previous inconsistent and incorrect usage of apostrophes when it comes to decades. I intend to change my ways.