Wicker King (jtoomey) wrote,
Wicker King
jtoomey

  • Music:

Smells Like What?

See, here's the thing: I went out and bought Nirvana's Nevermind shortly after it came out, and I thought it rocked, but, at the time, I don't think I really appreciated the effect it was having on the entire popular music scene. It's only been within the past few years that I've really gained an understanding for the epic scale of the changes it wrought.

High school, the year Nevermind came out -- my friend Joe seemed to invariably be the host each evening, and the evening would consist of some subset of pool, music, and random philosophical musing depending upon which crowd had been drawn. The pool was pretty non-competitive, the musings rather pointless, and the music was just about always Nevermind. I remember thinking that it was getting a bit overplayed, and offending Joe by opining such.

College, sophomore year -- Nevermind had already been out for, what, three or four years. My roommate Virgil and I are hosting a couple of prospective students as they attempt to decide on a school during the Northeastern open house weekend. I remember very little about them; they were a couple of black kids from the city, and we had little to nothing in common. They were polite and friendly, but we ran out of topics to talk about rather quickly. We decided to play cards -- they were rather big fans of Spades, as was Virgil, and I could hold my own -- and they picked out a CD while I shuffled.

You could tell they were coming up empty until they hit Nevermind -- then they seized upon it and both commented upon how much they loved it. We listened to it and played cards and had a blast for the rest of the night.

There are countless other images the record conjures up when I hear it, but today I'm most impressed by the lyrics themselves:
With the lights out it's less dangerous
Here we are now; entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now; entertain us
It's like Kurt Cobain distilled the pathos and self-effacing cynicism of my generation down into lyric form. With the lights out, brains off, TVs on: entertain us, indeed.

VH1's top 100 songs of the past 25 years ranked Smells Like Teen Spirit number one, and, today, with a bit of distance and perspective, I think they just might be right. It certainly altered the sonic landscape, with ripples that are still influencing composrs today.
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