Thursday, June 2, 2016

When Music Mattered - Nevermind (1991)

Nirvana's second album Nevermind was more than just a spit in the face of hair metal and the boring revival of folk music that was going on in the early 1990s. It was a sonic knife that cut right to the heart of the music business and started to weed out the people responsible for the crap that had been circulating for years. When it was obvious that hair metal had run its course, the world was ready for something else. But it retrospect, the world never really was ready for Nirvana.

I want it known that I did enjoy some of the early hair metal bands. The guys that started hair metal like W.A.S.P. and Ratt were more metal than some of the growling metal bands I see these days. It was the bands that entered the fray later on wearing pink glittering pants and playing guitars that looked like they were made by Fisher-Price that disgusted me. Once I saw that going on, I knew that something needed to put hair metal out of its misery.

I remember the first time I ever heard Smells Like Teen Spirit and how I thought it was one of the best hooks I had ever heard. I had no idea that Kurt Cobain didn't write hooks. Kurt Cobain wrote what he damned well felt like writing, and he wrote some of the best three-chord riffs I have ever heard. The dynamics in Smells Like Teen Spirit and the unmistakable guitar intro launched that song into the music mainstream, and it took Cobain with it kicking and screaming.

Nevermind has everything from songs like Polly that make you think, to songs like Territorial Pissings that beat your brains out for two minutes. Creepy songs like Something In The Way and Come As You Are stayed in regular rotation on my CD player for months. I just could not get enough of this album. I listened to this album so much and for so long that I hadn't even noticed that hair metal had completely disappeared. In its place was this brooding and depressing music that I just loved. Pearl Jam, Temple of the Dog, Soundgarden - it was all new, fresh, and completely depressing. I loved it.

It did not take long for MTV and Madison Avenue to turn the idea of Seattle music into a novelty that stripped it of all of its soul and made it less appealing to me and everyone else who was there with that sound from the beginning. But no matter what the ad guys did to "grunge," we still had Nevermind, and we always would.

If you think about it, there hasn't been a significant rock music movement since the Seattle sound. I think we are about due for another wave of truly influential guitar based bands, and it cannot come soon enough. But for a new movement to work, it needs a breakthrough album like Nevermind. Not some underground album that the cool kids protect like some golden god. I mean an album that reaches across generations and all tastes in music to completely kick One Direction in their tiny, little balls.

Nevermind moved Poison from the main stage at First Niagara Center to  the second stage at the Erie County Fair. It reminded people that music is an emotional medium, and that trying to screw the girl you just met at the club is not an emotion. It brought back, for a short period of time, the sensibilities that allowed groups like Pink Floyd, Genesis, and Rush to flourish in the 1970s. But then, the fat cats in New York City ruined it.

I am still waiting for the next Nevermind to come along and save music. Until then, I will continue to enjoy the original album that saved music from itself. And I think you should spend time enjoying it as well.

George N Root III is a musician and music fan. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3, or send him an email at