Saturday, February 1, 2014
All Our Pretty Songs (Redemption 2)
Is this sacrilege?
I'm so over Nirvana's "Nevermind". Used to love it, but now I never need to hear it again
Don't get me wrong. I don't hate it, and I agree that it is a great album. I'll even agree that it is one of the all time MOST IMPORTANT ALBUMS EVER on a couple different levels (great album critically, hugely influential on pop music and probably as important a music catalyst to pop culture/society as rap, punk and reggae.
Even on a personal level, it re-bloomed an appreciation of pop music for me back in the early 90's. Without it, i could well have just faded away, content with my memories of the good old days and remember whens, with the occasional where are they nows. Instead, I got supercharged and reinvigorated and found a ton new bands to love (and discovered a pile of bands I should have known and appreciated back in the back in the day but never got around to appreciating). I was never that into grunge (although flannel never goes out of style, baby. ) Besides, I never really considered Nirvana grunge (that was more pearl jam I think), they were really more indie, at least to my perceptions. And "Nevermind" really opened the door to a ton of contemporary indie music much like REM and the Smiths did that in the mid 80's. But unlike the 80's, I wasn't late to this party and every week brought me some amazing new sound that I was experiencing along with everyone else (added bonus, the Nirvana zeitgeist wasn't a microculture, but something that was happening EVERYWHERE so my music geekdom didn't seem quite so solo for once).
So really, why am I happy to forget "Nevermind"?
It doesn't help that they have been played to death (myself included). And it seems like every year brings some new variety of "Nevermind"/Nirvana reissue. So there is a lot of lot of overkill. But I'm not sure how overplayed matters to me. ( I'm not sick of the beatles . I'm not even sick of the early stones who have been even more overplayed.) And I barely listen to radio anymore, so it's probably been years since I heard any variety of Nirvana on the radio (or through my own devices). So aurally, not sure that is it. But I will say Musak Nirvana (and Tori Amos Nirvana....although that could be the same thing) doesn't help anything.
There is the pop culture oversaturation. You got your cobain imagery, your church of kurt (WWKD, what would Kurt think about this or that, the being /bean-ness of Frances), courtney's latest brush with inappropriate. So there is that, and it's pretty distasteful (and I suppose now I'm contributing to that pervasiveness with this ramble, so all apologies for that).
Also, I suppose, if I want to be uncharitable and revisionist, it could argued that "Nevermind" is a handful of great singles with a lot of album filler that all sounds the same. And it is a given that the Pixies did it earlier and quite a bit better. And with really only 3 albums (and even that is a stretch) there is not a lot of legacy to mine. But even though I can see both sides to the argument; great/overated, I don't really care about the comments section on this album, and I sorta think "Nevermind" transcends rants anyway.
Admittedly, Nirvana/"Nevermind" spawned a shitload of bands then and now that I just can't stand, but whatever. If people want to worship Dave Grohl and his fool fighters, they can have at it. I can easily avoid that which I do not want to hear. So although Nirvana lit a few too many creative fires on the musical horizon, I've been able to avoid too many bad music burns (and I still sorta like Dandelion, so there is that).
Maybe, when I get right down to it, "Nevermind" is so fixed in time and place for me that I can't bring it forward. Those early 90's were a pretty tumultuous time; figuring out the edumacation thing, coming out, having a pretty serious accident (not as a result of coming out, btw), realizing that I actually would have to work to make a living (not that I wasn't working, it was more just wtf kind of work/career am I actually going to have). A lot happened, in a short period of time. and more than any other piece of music (because for good or ill, I really do define periods of my life by music) "Nevermind" seemed to capture that three or four year period of moving from Minneapolis to Eau Claireand then going to grad school in Mankato. It certainly wasn't a horrible time (in fact it was pretty great other than being broke, pelvis and cash-wise both) but I don't know that I want to relive it (well....there might have been a few things I wouldn't mind going back for).
And for me, being through that period, or beyond it, or whatever, has robbed that album of all its emotional context. So now, even as I'm playing "Nevermind" while I write this, I'm not feeling it. I remember the way it hit me back then, but it's not doing much of anything for me now. It's not even hitting me like listening to a Soundgarden album now does; RAWK OUT and all that (and I have no idea why SuperUnknown has aged so well for me. Back then, at best, I found it a pleasant diversion). I fondly recall "Nevermind", and still appreciate it, and can even understand why people still love it (either for the first time or for the 1000th), and I certainly love the roads it steered me towards, but I can not (won't?) recapture that moment in time when it meant the world to me. And I guess that's why it don't need to hear it anymore.
Weirdly, Hole's "Live Through This" still plays just fine for me. Go figure.
BTW, I never need to hear Pearl Jam's Ten again either. But it's not like I was ever so in love with that one (or if I was it was only for a methaphoric weekend.) and it's not like anyone ever really critically loved eddy vedder's gulped syllables and constipated singing. (and besides, they are still making the same damn record 20 plus years later with exponentially diminishing commercial and populist favor results---also, why on earth do I keep listening/buying their albums?)