22 February 2011

Can You Feel My Love Buzz?

On our way back from a birthday curry-and-punk-film-fest in Glasgow that naturally progressed into an all night disco party – a regular occurrence when my little sister is around – I was met this morning, in Glasgow Prestwick airport, with a very sobering sight. For people of my vintage, there are few things that will make one feel every day of one’s thirty-*cough* years like the cover of the latest Mojo magazine, which threw me into a maelstrom of emotions with this little factoid…

…Nirvana’s Nevermind is twenty years old, this year.

My mind did a little bit of boggling - well, it was just before 6 am – before it could take this in. Can 1991 really be all of 20 years ago? And to put it bluntly, are we - am I - really this fucking old?

I’ve just spent longer than I care to confess working out that I was 13 years old on 24th September 1991, when Nevermind was released by a subsidiary label of Geffen Records. And by that time I was already a fan, having been slipped a copy of Bleach earlier that year by a friend of my Dad’s, who produced a radio show and had the biggest record collection I’d ever seen – he also introduced me to Dinosaur Jr, Mudhoney and The Pixies.

I love Nevermind but on the whole, prefer Bleach: for all its rough production quality and incoherent lyrics the raw energy of the album shines through, and Love Buzz is my all time favourite Nirvana track.

It makes me very sad to think I’ll never again fall for a band like I fell for the bands of my youth. Music wasn’t as widely available so if you bought or borrowed or taped an album, you probably listened to it hundreds of times, from start to finish, because that was the way the band intended it to be played. You knew the music intimately. You bought the albums, wore the t-shirts, knew the lyrics and hunted down the rarities and b-sides. It was love.

My favourite music – back then, mostly grunge and pop punk – was fast and loud and exciting, and it made me feel alive in a way I never had before, and probably never will again. I was besotted, enthralled, obsessed, as only a teenager with vast, previously untapped reserves of emotion can possibly be.

These days I appreciate lots of different bands and music types but it’s rare for me to find a sound that really, genuinely excites me (though thankfully, it still happens sometimes).

I was 16 years old when Kurt Cobain died. His birthday was on Sunday, the day after mine, and I am already, staggeringly, six years older than he was when he died.

So on the plane this morning, somewhere between Glasgow and Dublin, I shed another few tears for Kurt. He was beautiful and talented and tortured. As for me, well, I was tired and emotional... and for once, that isn't just a euphemism.


Marianne said...

Whenever I travel, I always make sure I have my passport, tickets, money...a book and Nirvana's Nevermind. This was *the* pivitol album of our generation, Emma, I think. For me it was a milestone of independence and the threshold of my heady teenage years of moshing, piercings and purple hair.

I was too young at the time to have gone to the 'Top Hat'in Dun Laoghaire,my home town, where Nirvana played a gig in August '91. I have no regrets about that- I was only ten! But I used to feel a surge of pride a few years later, hearing tales of that gig, to think that Kurt was in Dun Laoghire and I may actually walk on the spot of his footfall.

Great article! Good to remember Kurt. <3

little t said...

I actually heard that it was Kurt's birthday on the radio yesterday. Belated happy birthday to Kurt, and you!

shelleyti said...

What a fabulous article and so true - my first copy of Nevermind was a taped copy sent to me from England by my cousins cool boyfriend! It saved me - I was searching for my music identity and Nirvana helped me find it ... and saved me from 2unlimited and the likes. I may not 'look' like a grunger anymore but I'll always be one in my heard - thanks for the memories :)

fluff and fripperies said...

Thanks a lot for taking the time to comment guys, it's great to connect with other people the band had a similar impact on. I get the warm fuzzies when I see the little emo kids around town with their Nirvana tshirts and hoodies...I've long retired mine but it's great to know the music lives on!

Anonymous said...

Very passionate blog, well done. Let's all spare a thought for Kurt.... and the TOP HAT in Dun Laoghire

Bonnie said...

Loved Nirvana! It reminds me a lot of my nights in a place called the Underground in Colorado Springs where we danced till the wee hours of the night and could do it all again the next day. Lots of found memories and Nirvana will always hold a special place in my heart even when I'm 80 and rocking out to them. :)

├Źna said...

I was eleven when I was accidentally introduced to Nirvana. Someone had left a mixed tape in my best friend’s house and she thought it was mine due to my “strange” taste in music. Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged was the A-side, and REM’s Monster was the B-side.

Kurt was dead almost a year at that point, but I became an overnight fan. I had grown up listening to the Beatles, Bowie and Genesis so Nirvana were in the next step in the evolutionary process. And pretty much every band I have loved since then have followed that thread where they take a sound that might seem everyday but can turn into something you’ve never experienced before.

Claire Bradley said...

You are so right about Nirvana - I think no music ever gets you the way the music of your teenage years does.