In the 1960s, from what I understand, there was a common question between cool kids: The Beatles or the Stones?
In the 1990s we had a similar question:
Pearl Jam or Nirvana?
I had a friend I worked with when I was in high school and he was a Pearl Jam. Still is. I, on the other hand, was and will always be a Nirvana. I liked Pearl Jam, don't get me wrong, but I became a Nirvana because of a girl, and it's stuck ever since.
Of course this is about a girl, chaz. Figures.
That girl broke my heart repeatedly. But I kept going back to her. Just to get my heart broken again. And again. When I moved away to go to undergrad, I broke every single Nirvana CD I had and put them up, shiny side out, on the wall of my dorm as a sort of mirror. The music just reminded me of her too much. I needed to purge her out of my life. As soon as I did it I regretted it. This was the 90s. We didn't have mp3 players and iTunes. If I wanted to listen to that music again I either had to wade through my stacks and stacks of mix tapes or I had to go to the record store and buy another copy.
At the time I did neither. I suffered in silence. I needed to be miserable. Like I said, I was a teenager and it was the 90s.
My teenaged years were full of Nirvana lyrics. When I was in high school I was the stage manager in Drama Club. On the back of my shirt I wrote "If you ever need anything please don't hesitate to ask someone else first." Only a select few got the reference. And I liked it that way. My friends and I were the first few people to listen to Nirvana. Most of our school was still into hair metal or pop rock. We were in ripped jeans and plaid shirts and needless to say, I got beat up a lot. Some of the friends I thought I had turned their backs on me and called me a "freak." And it hurt, but it made me miserable, and like I said, I was a teenager in the 90s. Misery was a natural occurrence.
And besides, I still had my small core gang of friends. This little group has always been and always will until the end.
Of that little group, there's only two of us left. A few moved away (including the girl I mentioned above). A couple died. A few got fried up on drugs.
Is Cobain my generation's version of JFK or John Lennon? Hell. No. I don't want to think of the guy who wrote all the pretty songs that I fell in love and cried and laughed sat brokenhearted alone in my room and rocked out to to be a copy of someone else's role-model. Kurt was different. He was original. Lennon was NO Cobain.
Do you remember where you were when Kurt Cobain died? I know where I was. I was stumbling around a beach in Florida after having a couple blender drinks. I was walking up to people who looked cool and talking to them. I was enjoying a drum circle or a beach bon-fire. Someone had a radio and they told everyone to stop talking and singing and banging their drums. A news report had come on and he turned it up.
Kurt Cobain was found dead in his Seattle home... something about a gun shot wound... something about his wife and young daughter being left behind... something something something. I was numb.
That was the pinnacle of my misery. Someone I never met died. No big deal, right? WRONG. At the time this newly dead rock star was what connected me to my girl friend. And to my friends. And to my life. It was dramatic, man. I was a teenager in the 1990s. I was miserable. I stumbled around the beach some more, then I went back to the condo to watch the news coverage.
And now it's seventeen years later. SEVENTEEN YEARS.
I just did the math: I am twice as old now as I was when Kurt killed himself. Ugh.
I still love Nirvana. I never really got past it. I am perpetually stuck in the 90s, music-wise. Most people would have moved on. Maybe they listen to pop rock now. Or Nickelback. Or Jimmy Eat World. Not me. I can't even get myself to really get into new music. I buy obscure singles from unknown bands from the 90s. I buy "Best Of..." records from bands that I loved back in the day. And when I walk past the mirror I have to do a double take because internally I still feel like I looked in high school: Full head of randomly colored hair, skinny, and full of spit-fire.
Needless to say, I look nothing like that now. But my music has stayed the same.
I miss the comfort in being sad.
Everyday should be Nirvana Day! All Nirvana, all the time!