Thursday, April 26, 2007

Nirvana (1993)

I had gone through my hard rock phase during my high school years, and by the time I was out of college I was too "grown up" to continue to embrace loud music. This was a ridiculous notion, and thankfully I'm long since over it. Maybe being 25 and managing 60 truck drivers was partly to blame for my growing up a bit too fast.

When I first heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit", I thought it was a good song despite being by some new run-of-the-mill hard rock band. I never really gave Nirvana another thought until I came back north from Florida. A drive from Albany to Poughkeepsie with Scott and Jen was the first time I heard Nevermind in its entirety. In Utero was released shortly thereafter. It didn't quite have the pop sensibilities of its predecessor, but these two albums were back-to-back classics.

Nirvana's MTV Unplugged in New York was another brilliant album, probably the best to come out of MTV's Unplugged series. This album led to Scott's purchases of Meat Puppets II and The Way of the Vaselines, both very worthwhile indeed. I think of the mid-90's as the period when we rabidly sought out the music that influenced, or was championed by, our favorite artists. I even bought Truth and Soul because Neil Young is pictured wearing a Fishbone shirt in the liner notes to Harvest Moon. It turned out to be a good purchase as well.

In October of '93, Jen planned a trip to the Springfield Civic Center to see Nirvana as a surprise birthday present for Scott. I don't remember what was given as the reason we were driving east on the Berkshire section of the New York State Thruway, along with Jen's brother Marshall, but it was a great plan nonetheless. It was at this show that this band's brilliance really resonated with me. Less than six months later, on April 5, 1994, Kurt Cobain was dead of apparent suicide.

I remember pretty vividly the day that my sister came into my room to wake me up for school and tell me that John Lennon had been murdered. I was 13. I was 26 and leaving the parking lot of the Grand Union distribution center in Waterford, NY when I learned on the radio of Kurt Cobain's demise. These are the two most memorable rock star deaths of my lifetime. Given my current age, this is all the more reason to celebrate turning 40.

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