Classics Corner: Nevermind

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Matt Miller

Staff Writer

When the word grunge comes to mind, what do you automatically assume? Some people would think of dirt or gravel. Others think of a sub-genre of rock music from the early- to mid-nineties. There were many acts that personified this genre, such as Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, and Pearl Jam. But the one band that left an indelible mark on this genre, as well as rock music as a whole, has to be Nirvana.

Formed in 1987 in the rainy city of Seattle, WA, Nirvana was a trio consisting of guitarist/vocalist Kurt Cobain, bassisist Krist Novoselic and drummer David Grohl. Their debut album, Bleach, was a moderate success, but was dwarfed in comparison to the 1991 followup release, Nevermind. Nevermind was a massive success and produced several top singles on the mainstream charts.

Considered to be their masterpiece, this album is both a quintessential grunge album and a classic rock album. Most of the songs are angst-ridden testaments to the oppressions of society. Nirvana’s use of dynamic changes is especially notable on this album. Many of their songs contain soft verses and then shift to loud, aggressive choruses.

The first four tracks of this album are considered to be their finest work and are their most popular songs.

The first track, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” is undeniably their most recognized song. It is a very alluring track. The lyrics are difficult to decipher due to their nonsensicality and Cobain’s slurred vocals. Many have interpreted this as a teen revolution anthem while others have cited it as a incomprehensible, slew of random lyrics that serve no meaning.

The next track, “In Bloom,” is a testament to the underground music audience of the early nineties.

The third track on the album, “Come As You Are,” is another fine example of Nirvana’s songwriting craft. Unlike the previous songs on the record, this song contains a lengthy guitar solo by Cobain. The solo is not that of a virtuoso, but it fits the piece. The song has been interpreted in a variety of ways, but Kurt Cobain stated that it is about people and what they are supposed to act like. It is a statement regarding non-conformity.

“Lithium” is an attack on the stability of the human mind. There is a lot of self-loathing going on in this song, as Kurt Cobain sings, “I’m so ugly” and takes the voice of a man on the brink of killing himself – dysfunctional, random, and all of that. Cobain made it clear that most of the time he was not singing about himself in his songs, but was pulling from what he saw in other people.

There other tracks on this album all have the same general feeling as the first few tracks. If you have the album, pass it around to others. If you do not own it, go to a local music vendor and purchase it.