Blimey, it’s 25 years since Nirvana released “Nevermind.” Now that really does make me feel old! Oh, wait, I guess it means I am old? It was released just as I started university (giving away clues as to my age) and Nirvana fitted neatly into my musical likes, alongside The Smiths, The Pixies, Joy Division and…. well, you get the whole “Indie Chick” picture. I was never really “into” them, they were one of many bands I listened to, but whenever I hear the opening chords of Smells Like Teen Spirit, it whisks me away to a time of poverty, hangovers, cannabis and exams. Yep, my student days were the best days of my life. Well, maybe not seeing as I’m currently bumming around in the Caribbean. (Not going to mention the yacht.)
The whole “look” at the time was very much me. I loved a scruffy man. Having said that, I liked a clean scruffy man, who had thought through his look carefully, and was able to carry it off with nonchalance and a, “what this old rag? I just threw on the first thing I picked up,” attitude. Unlike some chaps who really did just throw on the first thing they picked up, usually off the floor, crumpled and smelling of stale beer, taking grunge to a whole new level. No, I wanted a man to make an effort to look like he hadn’t made an effort.
Kurt Cobain became a style icon to a lot of young men at that time, possibly because he epitomised everything the “flashy” 80’s wasn’t. His style matched his lyrics; his look said: “f**k you.” Back at Manchester University, we had just started our lives as adults and the 90’s belonged to us, so we wanted to kick the stylised 80’s into touch and say “f**k you” to the Armani wearers. I’m having flashbacks to being an idealist 18-year-old again… shudder.
Cobain’s legend lives on, 20 years after his death. His music still represents rebellion and “teen spirit” (hilarious!) to teenagers today, in much the same way as I listened to Velvet Underground and Janis Joplin as a kid. Nevermind is played when I need to do boring chores. I’m not housewife material so a bit of angry music really helps when it comes to scrubbing floors and dusting. Smells Like Teen Spirit was also my karaoke song of choice some years back. You are all very lucky in that you only get to see what I have written; you never have to hear me sing. But after a couple of vodkas, and when the karaoke groove comes over me, it’s a song I can really make my own. Adele I could never attempt, Nirvana is doable.
The look lives on too and it doesn’t even look retro! It’s a carefully put-togetherness that looks careless. It’s the lumberjack shirts, the leather or denim jacket, a quirky suit with a beanie hat. It’s long hair, beards, tattoos. It’s intentionally looking a bit scruffy around the edges. Think Ricky Hall or Josh Mario John. I can’t believe it’s 25 years ago since Nirvana burst onto the music scene; there are people walking with responsible jobs and children who weren’t even born then, it’s music their parents listened to. Blimey! But I bet a fair few of them has been influenced by Kurt and his band of not so merry men.
P.S – Just so you know, I’ve been through my karaoke phase so no need to be scared if you spot me in a bar.