September 20, 2011

AT LEAST THEY GOT TO BRING AN END TO A DECADE OF GOOD MUSIC...:

In search of Nirvana: Twenty years ago an album that wreaked havoc on the conventional music industry was released. Lauren Spencer, who was among the first to hear Nevermind, reminisces with the surviving band members, and returns to Seattle to hear how Kurt Cobain changed music for ever (Lauren Spencer, 9/17/11, The Observer)

Twenty years ago on a hot, smelly mess of an August day, the kind New York City does so well, I crossed the lobby of a swanky hotel in Manhattan to interview a band. They were in town to promote their first major-label release, Nevermind, and because I worked for Spin magazine, I'd been sent an advance of the music. It had caused me to miss my stop on the subway so confused and smitten was I by the soft and hard edges of the tunes and lyrics coming through my headphones. So I was heading up to meet these guys who called themselves Nirvana and find out for myself how they put heaven and hell into each of the songs.

When I stepped into their closet-sized room - twin beds, one chair, one table - I was met by Kurt Cobain, singer- songwriter, guitarist, and David Grohl, the man of drums. Bassist Krist Novoselic had a prior engagement and was not able to join us. That they looked not so much like up-and-coming rock stars as kids whose parents had left them to their own devices - and whose activities may have included bouncing on the beds and making prank phone calls - was heartening, as I was thoroughly sick of the slick interviews I'd been encountering with top-40 rock outfits. Our conversation encompassed homemade tattoos and why Cobain chose the K symbol for his, representing the Washington indie label of the same consonant; that night's free-for-the-fans Metallica party at Madison Square Gardens that they were eager to get into; and how much they loved the trailblazing Sonic Youth.

The fact that within the next few years Nirvana would pave the way for Sonic Youth and other like-minded alternative groups to find a larger audience, as Nevermind toppled pop giant Michael Jackson from his number one spot on the US Billboard charts, was impossible to forecast from this early 90s vantage point, where Bryan Adams's "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" had been dominating both British and American airwaves for weeks. There was something in this Seattle-based band's songs, live performance and attitude that quickly set the rock 'n' roll industry on its ear, so that what had once been considered an underground sound would emerge to wreak havoc on conventional record chart rankings and traditional music business models.


...consider how m uch heavier the lift was for The Clash, who had to snap us out of a decade of dreck.


Posted by at September 20, 2011 6:57 AM
  

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