Back in the 90s, grunge was not just a genre, but a style. Commercial stores like Sears and JCPenney were selling grunge as a trend but it was so much more than a fashion statement. And in my eyes, the leaders of the grunge army were Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, otherwise known as Nirvana.
When I think of Nirvana, the first thing that comes to mind are those famous opening chords of “Smells like Teen Spirit” and the dark video that took place in an anarchy themed pep rally. I also think of their album cover for Nevermind, an album that forever changed the face of rock music and paved the way for other grunge bands.
Nirvana also influenced a generation. Generation X grew up worshiping songs like “Smells like Teen Spirit.” To me, this song was about not being satisfied with the norm and finding the courage to stand up and out. Then, I found a quote from Cobain about this song that said, “The entire song is made up of contradictory ideas. It’s just making fun of the thought of having a revolution. But it’s a nice thought.” The irony is, he ended up started a revolution with music.
One of my favorite songs off the album is “Come As You Are.” When I discovered this album, it was years after the 1991 release and Cobain’s suicide, but I still identified with the song. “Come as you are, as you were as I want you to be,” a line gave me comfort and strength to be myself, even though they can also be seen as a contradictory statement. The line “as I want you to be” is taking a jab and society and its outrageous expectations. Another poignant part of the song (that actually gives me chills every time I listen to it) is the line “No I don’t have a gun”..What Cobain probably meant was that he didn’t have a specific target or enemy he was aiming at, but when you think of his tragic death, it’s just chilling.
“Lithium” was a track I believe was most identifiable with fans and any other person suffering from a mental disorder. Cobain was an unlikely (and unwilling) leader of teen angst and this song could be the anthem. A song about manic depression, the highs and lows and the anxiety it causes. Anyone suffering from the disorder can relate. The end of the song says it all; “I’m not gonna crack,” meaning this disease won’t break me.
Years later, Nevermind is still just as relevant as it was in the 90s and even after his death, Cobain’s words still influence generation after generation. Grohl continued his musical career with Foo Fighers and Krist Novoselic still plays music while continuing political activism. Although Nirvana’s career may have been short lived, their music lives on. There has not been a band since and in my opinion, will never be a band that has a sound, message or influence like Nirvana.
Written by: Katie Sperduti