Who cares if anyone understand their lyrics?!? This band is like the ice age, they rendered all rock bands extinct. Their music had a great feel of the teen angst, they defined the sentiments of pent up teenage frustrations to express one’s self and they also created some junkies along the way. The group made a huge influence on our local Filipino bands, in a sense they became the poster boys of the alternative (under ground) bands.
Nevermind is the second studio album by the American rock band Nirvana, released on September 24, 1991. Produced by Butch Vig, Nevermind was the group’s first release on DGC Records. Frontman Kurt Cobain sought to make music outside of the restrictive confines of the Seattle grunge scene, drawing influence from groups such as the Pixies and their use of loud/quiet song dynamics.
Despite low commercial expectations by the band and its record label, Nevermind became a surprise success in late 1991, largely due to the popularity of its first single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit“. By January 1992, it had replaced Michael Jackson‘s album Dangerous at number one on the Billboard charts. The Recording Industry Association of America has certified the album ten times platinum (10 million copies shipped) and has sold over 26 million copies worldwide. Nevermind was responsible for bringing alternative rock to a large mainstream audience, and critics subsequently regarded it as one of the best rock albums of all time.
Nirvana was a band from Aberdeen, Washington, formed by Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic, that had signed to Seattle independent record label Sub Pop. The group released its debut album Bleach in 1989, with Chad Channing on drums. However, Channing left Nirvana in 1990, and the band was in need of a permanent drummer. Upon seeing a show by hardcore punk band Scream, the group’s drummer, Dave Grohl, impressed Novoselic and Cobain. When Scream unexpectedly disbanded, Grohl contacted Novoselic, made his way to Seattle, and was soon invited to join the band. Novoselic said in retrospect that when Grohl joined the band, everything “fell into place”.
Meanwhile Cobain was writing a number of new songs. At the time Cobain was listening to bands like R.E.M., The Smithereens, and the Pixies. Feeling disillusioned by the heavy detuned rock popular in the Seattle grunge scene which Sub Pop had built its image upon, Cobain—inspired by his contemporary listening habits—began writing songs that were more melodic. A key development was the single “Sliver“, released on Sub Pop in 1990 (before Grohl joined the band), which Cobain said “was like a statement in a way. I had to write a pop song and release it on a single to prepare people for the next record. I wanted to write more songs like that.” Grohl said that the band at that point often made the analogy of likening their music to children’s music, in that the band tried to make its songs as simple as possible.
By the start of the 1990s, Sub Pop was experiencing financial difficulties. With rumors that Sub Pop would sign up as a subsidiary for a major label, the band decided to “cut out the middleman” and start to look for a major label. A number of labels courted the band, but Nirvana ultimately signed with Geffen Records imprint DGC Records based upon the recommendation of its management, who also managed the band’s idols (and recent Geffen signings) Sonic Youth, and Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon.
All songs were written by Kurt Cobain except where noted.
- “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Cobain, Novoselic, Grohl) – 5:01
- “In Bloom” – 4:14
- “Come as You Are” – 3:39
- “Breed” – 3:03
- “Lithium” – 4:17
- “Polly” – 2:57
- “Territorial Pissings” – 2:22
- “Drain You” – 3:43
- “Lounge Act” – 2:36
- “Stay Away” – 3:32
- “On a Plain” – 3:16
- “Something in the Way” – 3:55
- “Endless, Nameless” (6:44) is a hidden track on some copies of the record.
It’s hard not to mention the group without mentioning their charismatic, intelligent, obnoxious, deranged (and often times “high”) front man Kurt Cobain.
Dave Grohl stated Cobain believed “Music comes first, lyrics come second”. Cobain focused, foremost, on the melodies of his songs. Cobain complained when fans and rock journalists attempted to decipher his singing and extract meaning from his lyrics, writing “Why in the hell do journalists insist on coming up with a second-rate Freudian evaluation of my lyrics, when 90 percent of the time they’ve transcribed them incorrectly?” While Cobain would insist of the subjectivity and unimportance of his lyrics, he was known to labour and procrastinate in writing them, often changing the content and order of lyrics during performances. Cobain would describe his lyrics himself as “a big pile of contradictions. They’re split down the middle between very sincere opinions that I have and sarcastic opinions and feelings that I have and sarcastic and hopeful, humorous rebuttals toward cliché bohemian ideals that have been exhausted for years.”
On 8 April 1994, Cobain’s body was discovered at his Lake Washington home by an electrician who had arrived to install a security system. Apart from a minor amount of blood coming out of Cobain’s ear, the electrician reported seeing no visible signs of trauma, and initially believed that Cobain was asleep until he saw the shotgun pointing at his chin. A suicide note was found, addressed to Cobain’s childhood imaginary friend “Boddah”, that said, paraphrasing, “I haven’t felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music, along with really writing . . . for too many years now”. A high concentration of heroin and traces of Valium were also found in his body. Cobain’s body had been lying there for days; the coroner’s report estimated Cobain to have died on 5 April 1994.
In his suicide note Cobain writes that he lost his passion for life and was demoralized on how his music was turned into something commercial . He wished that he could go back in time when he was still beginning and just enjoy the music. He got caught up with all the commercialism that was going on with their music. In the end he expressed his love for his wife and told her to take care of their daughter Frances.
Kurt will be remembered as one of the most ironic rock musicians in the history of alternative music.
Nevermind has continued to garner critical praise since its release. The album was listed at number seventeen on Rolling Stone’s list “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time“. Time placed Nevermind, which writer Josh Tyrangiel called “the finest album of the 90s,” on its 2006 list of “The All-TIME 100 Albums.” Pitchfork Media named the album the sixth best of the decade, noting that “anyone who hates this record today is just trying to be cool, and needs to be trying harder.” In 2005, the Library of Congress added Nevermind to the National Recording Registry, which collects “culturally, historically or aesthetically important” sound recordings from the 20th century.