Nirvana released “Nevermind” 20 years ago today.
Sept. 24, 1991. I was 15.
For some large percentage of the world’s population, this anniversary doesn’t mean much. And for some smaller, more cynical group of people, it means another chance to roll their eyes whenever someone begins to wax poetic about the album and what it meant/means in the context of punk rock/popular music/pop culture/fashion/the Northwest music scene/hero worship/conformity/nonconformity/whatever.
I understand that. Just as one might scoff at the notion that “Nevermind” changed a lot of lives (besides Kurt Cobain’s, Krist Novoselic’s and Dave Grohl’s), I will probably scoff one day when some young whippersnapper claims their life was changed by, say, Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” or Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs.” (No slag intended. Both are fine albums; see #11 and #25 here.)
It’s the circle of life, or at least the circle of thinking your formative music is the most important music ever and subconsciously diminishing that which came before or after. Y’know … that circle.
But I’m here to tell you: “Nevermind” changed lives. It changed mine. I went from listening to Bobby Brown in 6th grade to Def Leppard and INXS in 8th grade to Nirvana in 10th grade to discovering the Pixies and Pavement and Teenage Fanclub and my weird local college radio station and on and on. From there, it was a deep, dark rabbit hole of music super-nerd-dom that I tumbled into, and that I still haven’t climbed out of. Thank goodness.