Sunday, 25 September 2011

At a store near you, always: Nirvana

What better time to resume your blog writings with your post-summer depression, lacking of creativity because you are back in full-time education and most importantly, when there's a killer anniversary of a certain special album that everyone's raving about? I will speak of my new loves, my old loves and my forgoing obsessions in another post, but this weekend, everything is owed to Nevermind , the album that changed hell of a lot more than it was supposed to.

24th September 1991, 20 years ago and 1 day today. (I know, I'm not a proper fan, I got confused and thought the anniversary date was on the 26th)

Geffen released their first album from their new signing, Nirvana, spending 120,000 and initially pressing 46,521 copies of the album to record stores in the US and worldwide. The album was released to a few hardcore fans already eagerly anticipating their next musical development but mostly to a new audience, an audience and critics that would name it notable and "ground-breaking" upon release. Of course, they were right, and this audience only grew and grew, watching the ever movements of Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl. Of course you know that, the rest is history.  

24th September, 2011, yesterday. The album has now sold well over 30 million copies WORLDWIDE and has rock-solid status as a classic that'll never be forgotten. Dave Grohl has just released another album with his band Foo Fighters (yes yes, you know this, but this is just background for other readers), including song "I Should've Known" featuring fellow ex-bandmate Krist Novoselic on Accordian and feedback of "IS THIS SONG ABOUT KURT COBAIN?" (Yes, Nate, it supposedly is). Frances Bean Cobain has flourished into a beautiful little "punk" butterfly, looking like the perfect mix of her most famous parents and Krist Noveselic is politician, hoping someday that the world WILL stop using escalators, a "testiment to human laziness".

The times have changed, Nirvana as a band and a legend have evolved and changed into something of the most perfect "Punk Rock legend story" but their album Nevermind still remains EXACTLY as it was 20 years ago, the polished punk rock masterpiece that really did send the world of music reeling, contrary to all this supposed exaggeration about it doing exactly that. Of course I would say all this, I'm a fan after all, and Nirvana have been my favourite band for only a little over 3 years so they're still in its 'obsessive' stage, but that one groundbreaking album has more relevance now than ever, because you have a new generation learning and loving with that 45 minutes. Contrary to popular opinion, Nirvana weren't an overnight success, they spent long and hard working up to the one 'magical' moment that was Nevermind , and we are all forever indebted to 'magical' three that made it so.

This weekend is all about remembrance, and adding your only little stories and personal touches to the Nevermind legacy is what it's all about, to keep the little circle of Nirvana spinning on. So, here today, I shall run through every song on THAT record and try to write down in words instead of dance routines and/or inaudible guitar lines from my mouth what exactly they all mean to me.

1) Smells Like Teen Spirit

- The first song I ever heard from Nirvana in about 2008, when I was researching the band for my first Popular Music Theory exam, to which I am forever indebted to for introducing me. I read the passage about them, I revised it and most important, I listened to Nirvana. It's such a cliche to say that I had never heard ANYTHING like it before, but I truly hadn't, being still stuck in that awkward 13 year old stage of listening to any rubbish that hits the mainstream waves (Nevermind was obviously the difference to this back in 1991, a year I would have lived in for anything). It still sweeps me off my feet as much now, albeit not as much then. I remember trying to digest the noise... I had never before been exposed to Punk Rock, but yet even trying to deny it in my little common head, I knew instantly I liked it. From then on, Teen Spirit has been my soundtrack to whenever the maddest things happen, the most angry situation... I always put it on and thrash around. My friends, being influenced by my new musical choices, downloaded it illegally and from then, we always played our "Nirvana spinney game" to which you spin round and round in an enclosed space (preferably with pet dog or many people in a small room). This was the subject dance at many sleepovers, drunk nights etc. from then on. It gave you such a power to feel expression, but to also feel like there was nothing else in the world. I remember meeting the first boy I ever fell in love with in a little practice rehearse space when him and his 'band' were rehearsing this very song. I walked in, listened, jumped around in absolute ecstaticness and pointed at him and spoke the words for which I will always remember: "You sound like y'know, Dave Grohl or something". When they actually played the song at a Senior Talent Show at my school, my friend Maria and me gave them a standing ovation at the end. I was wearing a shirt I'd made myself with their band name on. It's all seems too long ago, now. It's sad that I cringe at this one, now.

2) In Bloom

- Still one of my favourite Nirvana songs to date. I sing it every spring when it starts to dawn on full blast in the morning, when the blossoms start to bud and there is wildlife again, the days get longer and all you can hear is "Spring is here again, reporductive glaaands" from my mouth. I have the Sup Pop video of it on my iPod, with Chad Channing and I absolutely adore it. I feel the song is exactly how Kurt Cobain felt after its release and the manic popularity of the band. It still sums up everything I believe in, and when I get angry, it's the one I choose, too.

3) Come As You Are

- The first thing I learnt to play on guitar, and because of it, a fond memory. It's almost romantic in its spirit, but also a statement of sweeping depression. Its absolute melancholy always gets me when I can't understand my feelings, or I just need to mellow it out a bit. Always such a haunting guitar riff, also, and still my favourite to date!

4) Breed

- A song to which I still love, but am less mad about. I love its absolute craziness, and Grohl's drums are something of drums beauty, if there is such a thing. I sing this when I'm absolutely over everything... and I will forever love how it can suddenly be suddenly so melodic... and such an AWESOME guitar line, almost like a grumpy voice...

5) Lithium

-My fondest memory with this song is when another friend's band played it in a dingey little gig place where I live... he had been raving about how it was his favourite Nirvana song and how the bass line was 'epic', and I for one couldn't wait to hear it. He absolutely mastered the bass line and the lead was wearing a beau 'Kurt' t-shirt. I pushed myself to the front for the opening riff, and sang it word for word for the whole song. My friends were almost bemused, but one of my best friends just stood there with me and sang it word for word and we practically screamed the "YEAHH" at the beginning of every chorus. I remember the same friend turning to me one day and saying "Megan, you know the line 'I'm so horny, but that's ok my will is good?' Well, I thought it was 'that's ok, my willy's good'". The same guy I mentioned earlier (aka Dave Grohl) turned to me during this absolute immense gig and said "So I guess you know all the lines, then?" That night, I was swept up in the spirit of the absolute 'teen rebellion' and loved every second, and it still remains one of my fondest gig memories.

6) Polly

- Another classic I learnt on guitar... I love the chord sequence, I love how it's totally anti-rape, and only recently I heard a rendition of it from the same bass dude that I still call one of my best friends. It is the song of every busker at some point, and it would be my choice too.

7) Territorial Pissings

- I love the Jonathan Ross show rendition of this... and I will always love the Reading version, too. Recently, when visiting the Brick Lane 20th Anniversary Nirvana exhibiton, some of my favourite lyrics were printed on the wall from this song: "Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody try to love one another right now!"

8) Drain You

- My absolute FAVOURITE from Nevermind, forever. This is mainly because it's kind of a sick love song, and I love that. It hold memories of romance for me, and will forever make me think of this certain person when I listen to it. I will forever be fascinated by the lyrics, and how Cobain came up with them. I remember being super pissed when I found out Fall Out Boy plagiarised from this very song. Haha, the angry youth! The 'breakdown' still remains groundbreaking, and whenever I hear it I just think of my absolute favourite performance of it... the french television Nirvana, when Kurt's guitar cuts out, and he grabs the mic jazz-style... yeah, I've written a blog post on it, you can find it in my archive! I can't tell you exactly why it's my favourite, it just is. That's why Nirvana are so great. You like their songs without really even knowing why.

9) Lounge Act

-I always skip past this one, and I'm disappointed in myself for doing that, cause it holds some of the coolest bass and guitar riffs... and the lyrics! "Rather be dead than cool" I love Kurt's voice in it.

10) Stay Away

Every drummer I've ever spoken to about Nirvana always names this one as the coolest ... Dave Grohl could never get it wrong. "Monkey see, Monkey do" How can you possible begin to describe Kurt's voice in this?

11) On A Plain

- Another for my guitar sessions. Another one I see as a love song, and the purest "Pop" Nirvana you can get. The harmonies are top, and the lyrics will always remain as fascinating, but one where you can sing without a care for thought. The break sweeps you.

12) Something in the Way

- It hasn't helped me with depression or anything, because thankfully I have never had depression. But you can see how it helps... a beautiful melody. Absolutely magnificent, the vocals on this will always be cemented in my mind, as will the memory of Kurt to most musicians...

So there we have it. My past, present and future Nevermind. What it means to me. What all the newspapers, new reports and special Nirvana packages this weekend have tried to get at this weekend: Nevermind has the ability to mean something to everyone, because of its most natural and easy empathy of meaning, lyrics and stories of love and loss and alienation and happiness... it does it all. 20 years is nothing when memory reigns. Whether you're 1 years old, or 60... it can do it for you, if that's what you like, of course. I have just finished listening to the entirety of Nevermind for the nth time, so I'm happy that such a record can still be established for when it comes down to it, its awesomeness. I don't own the record, apart from on my wall, but I will take this frame everywhere with me on my journey in life, because it's what started it all for me (in my musical freedom), after all.

Sorry for the Colossal post. I feel like this is my diary now for musical pinpoints in life.