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.