Yo Ho, WeRCatz here!
This September will mark the 30th anniversary of the release of Nirvana’s legendary second album Nevermind. I witnessed the death of Hair Metal and the birth of Alternative Rock firsthand with this release! MTV was blasting Nirvana’s music videos, radiowaves almost inundated with the band’s songs and I had this album as well on CD (especially the CDs that had the hidden track at the end).
Everything on this album changed rock and roll forever. The album cover, controversial at the time, became one of the most well-known images in US music. The musicianship was a game-changer as lead guitarist/singer Kurt Cobain once told drummer Dave Grohl that “Music comes first and lyrics come second.” This meant that melodies and musical arrangement are more important to express than lyrical content. As for the lyrics and themes, over half of Cobain’s most successful songwriting came after his breakup with Tobi Vail of the band Bikini Kill. Some of these songs made it in Nevermind.
Four singles came out of Nevermind and changed the game of rock and roll. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” became an anthem for teenagers even though the real meaning of the song mocks the thought of starting a revolution. “Come As You Are” has a memorable introductory riff while the lyrics point at contradictions; over-used cliches were not spared. “Lithium” infuses Cobain’s personal life to the song’s fictional narrative: sometimes religion is good for those who want to save themselves. “In Bloom” had a music video just as memorable as the video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Using authentic Kinescope cameras, Nirvana made fun of the 1960s shows like The Ed Sullivan Show. However, Cobain said that it was a satirical stand against fans and critics who took Nirvana seriously.
The hidden track after Nevermind ends, “Endless, Nameless,” came from the arduous work on “Lithium.” Kurt was so frustrated about keeping steady with guitar work during the first day of recording that Nirvana worked on an instrumental jam; it was recorded and hence the hidden track.
Nirvana and Nevermind became a smash hit and made grunge a household name. I am glad to have lived through that period of change.