Thursday, February 14, 2008

Defending the Music XVII: I don't have a gun...

Kind of got knocked off the flow for a bit there. But I'm in the home stretch.

I've got to say that I've actually said plenty about each of the remaining artists at some time or another and part of the stall has been me struggling against the probability of repeating myself - not to mention the heaps of other writing that has been done about each of them.

I've already written about the quite powerful musical moment in my life where Nirvana screamed onto the scene and I realized that 'every thing has changed' and I won't retread that here.

So, what was it about Nirvana that spoke so directly to such a huge swath of people? And my HUGE I mean that they were one of the last bands (none after it spring to mind, though I'd be interested in hearing nominations for challengers) to ever manage to reach the vast majority of an entire generation. They were the first triple platinum punk band.

It had been a long time since music had so completely tapped into the emotional zeitgeist of the youth culture when it was in a volatile state. Which is not to say that there wasn't a voice for the disenfranchised between the summer of love and 1992. It's not to say that there wasn't music that stood up and demanded that it's point be heard. It's not to say that there was no cathartic vent for generational anger fuelled by three chords. But no one quite brought it together the way Kurt Cobain did on Nevermind.
And yet, what was he ever saying? No, I don't mean in a Weird 'Al' Smells like Nirvana way. I mean that even when you looked at the lyrics you often got the feeling that they most likely only ever made sense to Kurt. And THAT meant something. We were a generation without meaning and we knew it - the tiresome analysis by the Boomers of our place, threw it in our face (is it any wonder I have such contempt for the Beatles?). And the irony was that instead of making us pointless it wound us up to a fever pitch. "Fuck you. We're going to matter." We cried. Now, with the youngest of us on the back end of our thirties, I'd like to think we managed it, and I'd also like to think that our greatest days are still ahead.

It was so incredibly visceral, and in their brief heyday they proved that they were not a one trick pony. The Nirvana Unplugged album is one of the better and best selling Unplugged albums MTV ever released.

When Kurt died, (Leaving us one of music's most ironic lyrics behind in Come as You Are. Other contenders being the Who for My Generation and Amy Winehouse for Rehab. (Wow, I just ruined a sober point with a leavening paranthetical.)) it truly felt like something was lost. We lost a voice and we lost a future of music which would have been fascinating to watch unfold - even, if like so many artists all he could manage to do was to disappoint us (Sting, I'm looking at YOU!) But then again... perhaps Dave Grohl might have taken more of a part in the writing, and gawd knows he's proven himself.

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