Performances like this one by Nirvana provoked “get off my lawn!” reactions from the cultural gatekeepers in 1992; now they’re comfortably ensconced on Classic Rock radio alongside the big boys. Probably not what Kurt Cobain intended for himself, but if there’s one everlasting truth about … Continue reading Stay Away
Not counting the hidden track, this is a gentle coda for a sometimes very loud and angry record. I suspect that a lot of people may not listen to Nevermind all the way through to the end. It’s frontloaded on the well-known songs, and once … Continue reading Something in the Way
I think we can say, with absolutely no hyperbole, that Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit is officially the definitive song of, like, the whole entire 90’s. At least, it was declared as such the minute it was released, in 1991. That may have been jumping … Continue reading Smells Like Teen Spirit
Kurt Cobain: your favorite male feminist and mine. During his short tenure as the voice of his generation Kurt Cobain could not have been a better role model (aside from the whole heroin thing.) Like any good messiah, he denied that he was the voice … Continue reading Rape Me
Sometime in the mid-1980’s, Kurt Cobain read a news story about a teenage girl who was kidnapped hitchhiking home from a concert; a pretty typical modern-day horror story, unusual only in that the victim managed to escape and went on to talk about her ordeal. … Continue reading Polly
The brief wondrous life and messy death of Kurt Cobain was one of those earth shaking, generation defining cultural phenomenons that maybe happen once in a decade. It’s one I’m just slightly too young to have fully appreciated, although people just older than me, or … Continue reading On a Plain
Behold the legendary 1979 Saturday Nigh Live performance of The Man Who Sold the World. In which David Bowie brought in Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias for help and inspiration. Klaus Nomi even let Bowie wear one of his Nomi suits. As if an already weird song needed to get any weirder. It didn’t particularly, but adding a little Nomi to the mix never hurt anybody, and Bowie is the indisputable master of well-curated weirdness. Sadly, the encounter failed to skyrocket Nomi into superstardom, showing that even David Bowie’s powers are finite. Klaus Nomi rocketed straight back into NYC art scene obscurity, brief pop success in Germany and finally, the AIDS ward. David Bowie moved on to serious moonlight, MTV rotation and Jim Henson movies. The song itself went on to have an unexpected second life as a grunge anthem, thanks to Kurt Cobain, who identified with – and brought out – its underlying angst. Because it is a deeply angsty song. As Bowie tells the origin story; “I guess I wrote it because there was a part of myself that I was looking for. Maybe now that I feel more comfortable with the way that I live my life and my mental state (laughs) and my spiritual state whatever, maybe I feel there’s some kind of unity now. That song for me always exemplified kind of how you feel when you’re young, when you know that there’s a piece of yourself that you haven’t really put together yet. You have this great searching, this great need to find out who you really are.” That might seem like a bit of a trite explanation to those intent on pinpointing Lovecraft and Antigonish references, but underneath the reference points and homages, the quest for a unified self has always been one of Bowie’s great themes, and it’s something that carries over with or without eccentric accessories.