Recording of June 1992: Nevermind
Geffen/Sub Pop DGCD-24425 (CD only). Butch Vig, Nirvana, prods. AAD. TT: 59:22
I was driving home from work the other day when I saw a group of three boys, all around 13, sauntering down Guadalupe all attitude, wearing ratty skateboard chic and holding their skinny-ass arms out away from their sides like they were too muscular to swing freely. Nothing very extraordinary as far as 13-year-old boys go. But just as they got to the corner, one of the boys took a running leap and karate-kicked the massive steel signal-light pole. I mean, he whaled that sucker. It being massive and steel and all, it didn't move very far, so obviously it hurt the kid's foot—he flung himself at that pole quite suddenly and totally, giving that kick everything he had. If I had tried something like that, I'd have broken my foot and been rolling around in the intersection, screaming like a banshee. But the kid just floated back to Earth and continued on with his buddies, throwing roundhouse rights into thin air for no apparent reason at all.
I recount this scene because witnessing it made me feel extraordinarily happy; better and more hopeful, in fact, than I've felt in years. Because I've been watching the youth of this country slowly devolve into ever-more mushy-assed and lemming-like non-creative apathetic materialistic socially ignorant pliant believing dysfunctional dweeby right-wing "Beverly Hills 90120"–driven empty-headed pastel-colored expensive-clothing–wearing androgynous historically bereft vacant jaded antisexual little simps ever since the dawn of MTV effectively ended the concepts of musical self-discovery, actual spontaneous fad/fashion, and the life-sustaining idea that a piece of music could suggest an infinite number of interpretive scenarios, which meant that in the very same time and space, your mom could be humming along with "A Day In The Life" on the radio doing the dishes downstairs while you were blowing your mind out in your bedroom with a red plexiglass bong to the very same song and getting off to it on a totally different yet completely complementary level! Nowadays, both of you hear a song and see in your minds' eyes exactly the same image: sultry video babes, wide pans of fake "in-concert" lip-syncs with that familiar howling wind making the singer's hair blow back even though if we all thought about it we'd wonder where the wind was blowing from, and whatever other tour-bus debauchery scene or pretentious minutiae video director Ian/Hans/Ki-ki wants to stick in there so he can get nominated for an MTV award and get 'Lectro-Luxed by the legions of underage video-babe wannabes hanging out backstage.
There's no room for individual dream-sequences anymore. Now you're forced to picture the video in your head when you hear every new song that hits the charts. It's gotten to the point where it's a bona-fide fact that the popularity of a song's video is the number-one determinant of its resultant chart success! And the lemmings lap this stuff up like jus du teat, mindlessly following each other over the cliff, not giving a shit about anything except why the $%&* their moldy old 'rents listen to their Beatles and Stones and Dylan and Hendrix and CSN&Y and Traffic and Sly records when there's nothing to see?!
I'm serious; either today's kids are slumming retro black-hair–dyed '50s-fixation nuevo-downtrodden underground hipsters who won't admit to digging any music that's not on an indie label, preferably with a picture of either a faux-crude collage of a crying baby, a huge lactating tit, and a mushroom cloud, or a scene of extreme cruelty/pain to mirror their own inner Angst over the possiblity that someone might find out about their trust-fund, or they're wimped-out suburban mall-clones, spineless whining waterheads programmed to simultaneously consume, excrete, and feel unwanted, all the while bleating demands to their drunken parents and vomiting up chocolate mousse so they can fit into $300 pre-ripped jeans that'll be out in a few days anyway but who cares there's the cutest boy at school he looks just like Brandon on "90210" and I should know cuz I look like him too and hey, this mousse tastes just as good coming up as it does going down! EX-CEL-LENT!
So when I saw that kid karate-kick a steel signpost he knew wouldn't move an inch, I almost leapt out of my car and hugged him. Because it was the first sign of adolescent rebellion I think I've witnessed in at least a decade, maybe more. Skinheads breaking Nigerian exchange students' heads open with Louisville Sluggers don't count; that's po-boy hatred and grown-up–directed action besides. No, the kind of adolescent rebellion I'm talking about is ALIENATED SNOTNOSE nihilism, the kind of white-hot confusion-as-power that fueled all the great aggrobands all the way from the Who to Blue Cheer to Robert Johnson to the Stooges to the MC5 to the Ramones to the Clash to the Red Hot Chili Peppers to the three young men who call themselves Nirvana.
I'm not going to tell you what I think their songs sound like. There's nothing I hate more than listening to an album on some music hack's recommendation; I always find myself thinking things like, "That dumb-ass! This isn't a 'marriage of Mingusian childlike awe and Ferryesque gloss' at all!" instead of just LISTENING TO THE MUSIC.
Nirvana is three ugly mofos named Kurt, David, and Chris. It looks like art-school played a role somewhere in the equation, but not in the usual "we're supra-literate effete Euro ironic anti-gonadic geeks who revel in our own non-adherence to classical guidelines of beauty and harmony," but in the much more useful "we went to art-school so we wouldn't have to do shit for a good four years after high school 'cause basically we like nothing better than to peel our eyelids back and jam on old Deep Purple riffs in our cheap off-campus house with the old-car-part–strewn lawn." These guys play unbelievably hard and loud; it just sounds silly when you play this record at anything less than 6dB over the max output of whatever amp you've got in your rig. As a matter of fact, it's quite obvious to me now that David Manley voiced his VTL Deluxe 225s with Nevermind, as I've never heard such a perfect marriage between an amp and a band in my entire life.
Nirvana is angry. Nirvana is harsh. Nirvana is so great that if I had to take one record to a desert island, this would be it. Nirvana makes me happy when I listen to it. Nirvana sounds UNBELIEVABLE over the Martin-Logan Quests driven by the Levinson 23.5. Nirvana has a photo of a penis on Nevermind's cover. OK, so it's a baby's penis, but he's swimming after a dollar bill on a fishing hook. Nirvana doesn't play any speedlik solos. Nirvana doesn't name anybody named Chick or Johann-Sebastian as an influence. Nirvana has one song with a cool cello part on it. Nirvana reaffirms my faith in the youth of America. Nirvana is God.—Corey Greenberg