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Author Topic: Nirvana Appreciation Thread  (Read 9071 times)
Matt
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« on: December 22, 2015, 05:41:04 PM »



This is an appreciation thread for one of my favorite bands, Nirvana. I'm not an expert but I do enjoy their music enough to want to share it with others.

Nirvana wasn't the first grunge band, but they were the band that brought grunge to the masses, bringing with it an explosion of change for my generation in music, attitude, and style that hadn't been seen since the British Invasion, and hasn't been seen again since.

"The Seattle Sound" as it would become called, didn't come out overnight, it was brewing for almost a decade, very similarly to the way the British Invasion was brewing in England, with many bands influencing each other, and with the breakout of the Beatles, we wound up with at least a dozen great bands that changed music forever. This was the American version. And it was a lot different.

I once tried to explain the greatness of Nirvana to a non-fan, but someone who loved the Beatles. I explained... if the Beatles had kept going they probably would have brought us grunge themselves eventually. They were heading that way. The 70's brought us heavy metal, and trailed off in the 80's into hair metal with bands like Poison, Motley Crue and Guns n Roses. Rock became GlamRock.  Madonna was doing her S&M shows, and Guns n Roses were doing theirs.

And then across MTV came Nirvana in a sweaty gymnasium, sounding dirty, looking dirty, and ANYTHING but glamorous.

Their music was crude, but it had energy.

It took some of us time to accept this. It wasn't like it was on the Ed Sullivan show with the Beatles where everyone stopped what they were doing and fell in love. We stared and thought "What is this $#!t?" And a lot of us hated it.

And they kept playing it ... and the more they played it, the more we listened, and it grew on us... like some kind of grungy mildew, it grew and got stuck. And then, before you knew it, we wanted more.

So I'm not going to start this appreciation thread with one of their songs from a barely listened to album that was released prior to their breakout album "Nevermind". I'm going to start it with the song that introduced Nirvana to most of us back in 1991... "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

Smells Like Teen Spirit

If you want help understanding Kurt's lyrics (they're great, but until you get an ear for his voice, he does mumble a bit).

Quote
Load up on guns, bring your friends
It's fun to lose and to pretend
She's over bored and self assured
Oh no, I know a dirty word

Hello, hello, hello, how low? [x3]
Hello, hello, hello!

With the lights out, it's less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us
A mulatto, an albino
A mosquito, my libido
Yeah, hey, yay

I'm worse at what I do best
And for this gift I feel blessed
Our little group has always been
And always will until the end

Hello, hello, hello, how low? [x3]
Hello, hello, hello!

With the lights out, it's less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us
A mulatto, an albino
A mosquito, my libido
Yeah, hey, yay

And I forget just why I taste
Oh yeah, I guess it makes me smile
I found it hard, it's hard to find
Oh well, whatever, never mind

Hello, hello, hello, how low? [x3]
Hello, hello, hello!

With the lights out, it's less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us
A mulatto, an albino
A mosquito, my libido

A denial. A denial.
A denial. A denial.
A denial. A denial.
A denial. A denial.
A denial. A denial.

Look at the wordplay!  "Hello, hello, hello, how low"  "Hello", one of the most social words in the US language, a positive word... changes completely in meaning with just a slight change of pronunciation -- now the statement isn't a welcoming "Hello", it's a question: "How low?"  And "how low?" can have very depressive meaning.

Kurt idolized John Lennon, and if you're familiar with Lennon's lyrics, you'll see some of that influence. The lines "A mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido" Kurt wrote just because he liked the sound of the words together. Sounds Lennonish, doesn't it?

But my favorite line of the song:  "I feel stupid, and contagious".

I almost forgot to introduce the band. 

Nirvana is a 3 piece band from Aberdeen, Washington.  They are:

Kurt Cobain (Vocals & Guitar)

Krist Novoselic (Bass)

Dave Grohl (Drums)

Kurt would write the songs, but Krist and Dave would join in and have a major part in the song's structure. If wondering who wrote the lyrics, although attributed to "Nirvana", it was Kurt.

Sadly, the band would only have two studio album (plus their album prior to Nevermind, with a different drummer). It was all ended much too early with the death of Kurt Cobain. Murder or suicide, it's still questionable, though most believe it was suicide. For now, that's not important. For now, this is about the music.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2015, 12:20:50 PM by Matt » Logged
Doug
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« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2015, 05:37:07 AM »

I like Nirvana a lot. The only album of theirs I owned while Kurt was still alive was In Utero, and it's still my favorite of theirs and one of my favorite albums period. Because so much of Nevermind was played on the radio, MTV, and clubs (that I went to) I can't get into it as much, while I really like Bleach, but that came much later. (My owning and appreciating of the album, that is.)

It should be noted Kurt Cobain was a huge Beatles fan. This was recently released: And I Love Her (Nirvana)
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« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2015, 12:30:56 PM »

Keep posting in here, Doug. As I said, I'm not an expert, and I can use the help with properly introducing this great band.

I like that version of "And I Love Her".   :)

This is something only Doug would appreciate, and not for anyone else (unless you've already heard it). It's Nirvana's "Revolution 9", which I was listening to last night for the first time. And man, did I enjoy it. I recognized almost all the clips - I was born a year ahead of Kurt, and the same year as Krist, so we grew up with the same influences.

Montage of Heck (33 min Audio)

You can download it from that link.
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« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2015, 12:35:36 PM »

Here's some background information on the song "Smells Like Teen Spirit".

Quote
In a January 1994 Rolling Stone interview, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain revealed that "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was an attempt to write a song in the style of the Pixies, a band he greatly admired. He explained:

    I was trying to write the ultimate pop song. I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies. I have to admit it. When I heard the Pixies for the first time, I connected with that band so heavily that I should have been in that band—or at least a Pixies cover band. We used their sense of dynamics, being soft and quiet and then loud and hard.[4]

Cobain did not begin to write "Smells Like Teen Spirit" until a few weeks before recording started on Nirvana's second album, Nevermind, in 1991.[5] When he first presented the song to his bandmates, it comprised just the main riff and the chorus vocal melody,[6][7] which bassist Krist Novoselic dismissed at the time as "ridiculous." In response, Cobain made the band play the riff for "an hour and a half."[4] In a 2001 interview, Novoselic recalled that after playing the riff repeatedly, he thought, "'Wait a minute. Why don't we just kind of slow this down a bit?' So I started playing the verse part. And Dave [started] playing a drum beat."[8] As a result, it is the only song on Nevermind to credit all three band members as authors.[9]

Cobain came up with the song's title when his friend Kathleen Hanna, at the time the lead singer of the riot grrrl band Bikini Kill, spray painted "Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit" on his wall. Since they had been discussing anarchism, punk rock, and similar topics, Cobain interpreted the slogan as having a revolutionary meaning. What Hanna actually meant, however, was that Cobain smelled like the deodorant Teen Spirit, which his then-girlfriend Tobi Vail wore. Cobain later claimed he was unaware that it was a brand of deodorant until months after the single was released.[10]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smells_Like_Teen_Spirit

I find the explanation pretty funny.

One of the things I love about Nirvana is that they never took themselves too seriously.  After "Smells Like Teen Spirit" got so popular, Weird Al Yankovic asked to do one of his parodies. Kurt was concerned, and said "It's not going to be about food is it?" Weird Al said "No, it's going to be about how no one can understand your lyrics."  Kurt laughed and said, Okay, then you can do it. Just don't do anything about eating.

Later, Kurt watched the video with the band, and laughed all through. He absolutely loved it.

Smells Like Nirvana

And for lurkers, please let this NOT be the only song you listen to in this thread. I added it here so you can appreciate another side of the band -- their sense of humor, and that they weren't too big on themselves. They were very down-to-earth.
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Doug
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« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2015, 02:02:47 PM »

By the time Nirvana did Unplugged, Kurt was going through a lot of issues, and I remember reading there was a lot of concern it would even happen. I think Kurt took the idea very seriously, perhaps because he would feel more exposed out there performing all acoustic versions, and he was almost trying to sabotage it. Funny story is how he got on the drummer to play lighter and lighter until the drummer was ready to pull his hair out, but amazingly enough Nirvana did do Unplugged and it ended up as probably the best and most well-known of all the Unplugged concerts. (Though I really like the R.E.M. one myself.)

Here's: All Apologies Unplugged
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« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2015, 03:03:07 PM »



Nirvana Unplugged in New York is my 2nd favorite of their albums (my favorite is Nevermind) and it's my favorite Unplugged concert.

It might be the best introduction of this band to those who aren't quite ready for their full sound. And I don't say that in any way as an insult -- as I wrote in my first post of this thread, it took multiple listens for our ears to even make sense of Nirvana.

Did you ever notice how sometimes you tune in on a radio station and it takes your mind maybe 2 seconds to decipher a song that you know very well? There's that slight amount of time when everything is a garble, and none of it makes sense. And then suddenly, CLICK. And you know it, and you're singing along. It's that "2 seconds" between hearing Nirvana and the CLICK that I'm afraid people will be turned off from and not continue to listen. Because in reality that 2 seconds could be 20 listens. But, it will click. And when you start singing along with it, you'll never enjoy music more.
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« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2015, 09:16:02 PM »

Who came up with the term, "Grunge" and what does it actually mean? Is it just because they have long hair and haven't shaven in a few days or something completely different?
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« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2015, 10:44:09 PM »

I never knew the origin of the word, but I was able to find it. :)

Quote
Origin of the term grunge

Mark Arm, the vocalist for the Seattle band Green River (and later Mudhoney), is generally credited as being the first to use the term "grunge" to describe the style. However, Arm used the term pejoratively; he called his band's style "Pure grunge! Pure noise! Pure $#!t!" The media did not see Arm's comment as negative, and the term was subsequently applied to all music that sounded similar to Green River's style. Arm first used the term in 1981, before he had adopted the name under which he became famous. As Mark McLaughlin, he wrote a letter to a Seattle zine, Desperate Times, criticizing his own then-band Mr. Epp and the Calculations as "Pure grunge! Pure noise! Pure $#!t!" Clark Humphrey, who edited Desperate Times, cites this as the earliest use of the term to refer to a Seattle band, and mentions that Bruce Pavitt of Sub Pop popularized the term as a musical label in 1987–1988, using it on several occasions to describe Arm's band Green River.[5]The word grunge itself means "dirt" or "filth." It is likely that the term was seen as appropriate because of the "dirty" guitar sound that grunge is known for, and the unkempt appearance of most grunge musicians. It was in stark contrast to the relatively polished look and sound of glam metal bands of the late 1980s.

It's part of this pretty decent article on the history of Grunge music:

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Grunge_music

From the same article:

Quote
Grunge music is generally characterized by "dirty" guitar, strong riffs, and heavy drumming. The "dirty" sound results primarily from the common use of heavy guitar distortion, fuzz and feedback. Grunge fuses elements of hardcore punk and heavy metal into a single sound, although some grunge bands perform with more emphasis on one or the other.
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« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2015, 06:05:06 PM »

"In Bloom" is another of my favorite Nirvana songs, also from the Nevermind album. The video showcases the band's sense of humor.

One of the things I love about Nirvana's music is that they don't "play on 11" all the time, to paraphrase This is Spinal Tap. It's quiet, then loud, then quiet, then loud again. Which makes it so much more listenable and interesting.


In Bloom


Here's a Wikipedia entry about the video:

Quote
Cobain's original concept for the video told the story of a young girl born into a Ku Klux Klan family who one day realizes how evil they are. His concept was too ambitious, so Cobain instead decided to parody musical performances by bands on early 1960s variety shows, such as The Ed Sullivan Show.[18] The humorous tone of the video was a result of Cobain being "so tired for the last year of people taking us so seriously . . . I wanted to [email protected]#k off and show them that we have a humorous side to us".[19] Kerslake filmed the video on old Kinescope cameras, and the band improvised its performance.[18] The video begins with an unnamed variety show host (played by Doug Llewelyn, former host of The People's Court) introducing Nirvana to an in-studio crowd of screaming teenagers; their non-stop screaming is heard throughout the duration of the song. The band members, whom the host refers to as "thoroughly all right and decent fellas", perform dressed in Beach Boys-style outfits; Cobain wears glasses that blurred his vision, while Novoselic cut his hair short and liked it so much he kept it that way afterwards.[20] As the video progresses, the band destroys the set and its instruments.

Three different edits of the Kerslake video were made. Cobain intended to replace the first version of the video after a period with a new take featuring the band wearing dresses instead of suits. MTV's alternative rock show 120 Minutes insisted on premiering the video, but Cobain felt the program would not properly convey the humor of the "pop idol" version. Instead, a new edit was produced which contained shots of the band in both suits and dresses. The original edit of the video never aired.[21] This video won the award for Best Alternative Video at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards,[22] and topped the music video category in the 1992 Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics' poll.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Bloom

I accidentally stumbled on the alternate version today, which I had never seen before. The link is HERE.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2015, 06:07:36 PM by Matt » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2015, 11:01:16 PM »

Here's another from Doug's favorite Nirvana album In Utero. I love this song.

Heart Shaped Box

Courtney Love would proudly tell you what this song is about.... just Google it.

It contains one of my favorite lines: "Forever in debt to your priceless advice," and lyrics that are full of passion and imagery.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2015, 11:03:17 PM by Matt » Logged
Richard Earl
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« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2015, 05:58:18 PM »

I am not a huge fan of Nirvana but I do give a big thumbs up to the Unplugged album. O0
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« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2015, 06:38:30 PM »

I am not a huge fan of Nirvana but I do give a big thumbs up to the Unplugged album. O0

It's awesome, isn't it?

And just for you, today's song is from that Nirvana Unplugged in New York album. It's one of several covers that Nirvana played that night.

The Man Who Sold The World

Out of curiosity, I've listened to the notable remakes of this David Bowie song, including Bowie's original. The Nirvana version is my favorite. (Other covers include Midge Ure, Richard Barone and Lulu.) All the other versions seem like a Bowie remake, but Nirvana truly makes it their own.
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« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2015, 12:34:19 PM »

Finally, I will post my favorite Nirvana song -- it was my favorite when I first heard it, and it still is.

Lithium

Krist Novoselic's bass really drives this one... it's not fancy, it's just strong and pulsing. And the refrain is one of the best to sing along with. But it's the perfect quiet-to-loud song, the best ever IMO.

Kurt's scream is the one of the greatest raspy rock screams of all time that puts him firmly in Paul McCartney/Helter Skelter and John Lennon/Well Well Well territory.

Anyway, enjoy.
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« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2016, 02:07:35 PM »

Bringing it down a notch....

About A Girl (Unplugged)
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« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2016, 01:55:22 PM »

Here's a great song from their compilation album Incesticide (1992).  It was a live staple, and I wanted to post the best performance of this I could find online, and it was the Reading Festival 1992 performance. This is a great example of Kurt's sense of humor, as you can see him performing in a hospital gown. Why? This explains it:

Quote
Rumors spread throughout the festival crowd that Cobain was too ill to perform. Hearing of this, Cobain chose to prank the massive audience by being brought onto the stage with a wheelchair wearing a hospital gown and ridiculous old woman wig. Kurt even collapsed onstage before kicking into “Breed.”
Source:  http://loudwire.com/13-unforgettable-kurt-cobain-moments/

Watch this quick video to see it yourself.
Kurt Cobain wheeled to stage

And here's the great performance.
Aneurysm (Live At Reading 1992)

I wish I hadn't been an idiot in the early 90's and had managed to get my lazy ass to a Nirvana concert. Who knew we wouldn't have a lifetime to do it?
« Last Edit: January 02, 2016, 02:52:21 PM by Matt » Logged
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« Reply #15 on: January 02, 2016, 08:45:13 PM »

Have you ever seen one of those "Teens React" videos where modern teens watch and listen to "older bands"? Usually it's just '90s stuff. Here's one for Nivana you might be interested in seeing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGPbHUZQ-VE
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« Reply #16 on: January 03, 2016, 01:02:47 PM »

Have you ever seen one of those "Teens React" videos where modern teens watch and listen to "older bands"? Usually it's just '90s stuff. Here's one for Nivana you might be interested in seeing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGPbHUZQ-VE

I hadn't seen that, but I just watched it. I'm glad they liked the music! I agree with some of them that the video for Heart Shaped Box could be considered offensive - I think it was in the day, too.  I decided not to post a link to that video when I highlighted that song earlier.  The video works so well with the imagery of the song, though. It's "a little trippy". :)

After posting Aneurysm yesterday, I'm going to show the other side of Nirvana. I'm so glad they did this Unplugged Concert, there are so many beautiful performances we would have never heard otherwise. It was less than 5 months later that Nirvana would be ended with the death of Kurt Cobain.

Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam

I remember a good friend of mine back when Nirvana just came out declaring "that singer is such an a$$hole", and misquoting his lyrics to prove the point. Sad, really... because that was initially my opinion, due to influence. In actuality, he was a wonderful, kind person who was outspoken in women's rights and gay rights. One of my favorite Kurt Cobain quotes:  “I am not gay, although I wish I were, just to piss off homophobes.”

So, for anyone reading this thread or trying to ignore this thread because they think the band members were punks... you'd just be wrong about that, and I hope this thread helps to understand them better.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2016, 01:21:15 PM by Matt » Logged
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« Reply #17 on: January 03, 2016, 05:36:37 PM »

Finally, I will post my favorite Nirvana song -- it was my favorite when I first heard it, and it still is.

Lithium


Lithium was the song that drove me to Nirvana, Smells Like Teen Spirit really didn't "attracted" me that much, in the beginning.

Lithium is IT. The lyrics were (and still are) just raw emotions and random thoughts that make (and still make) perfect sense, to me at least ;) . The complexity of reality mixed with naïve and enlightened, yet sarcastic and disillusioned, emotions coming together in a song... WOW.

WOW then, WOW now. WOW forever.
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« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2016, 02:06:04 PM »

Lithium was the song that drove me to Nirvana, Smells Like Teen Spirit really didn't "attracted" me that much, in the beginning.

Lithium is IT. The lyrics were (and still are) just raw emotions and random thoughts that make (and still make) perfect sense, to me at least ;) . The complexity of reality mixed with naïve and enlightened, yet sarcastic and disillusioned, emotions coming together in a song... WOW.

WOW then, WOW now. WOW forever.

I've missed talking music with you, Richard. I'm not too surprised your favorite Nirvana song and mine are the same.   I hope you'll keep checking in here... you and Doug have always been able to express verbally what I have a hard time putting into words.

And now, another of my favorites and the last song Nirvana recorded before Cobain's death.

You Know You're Right

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« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2016, 09:49:53 AM »

Come As You Are was the follow-up single to Smells Like Teen Spirit off the Nevermind album. There's an irony to the lyrics "And I swear I don't have a gun", that makes it impossible to listen to without thinking of Cobain's death or sadly mumbling "Yes, you did." But, even with that sadness and being reminded of it like a cold wet fish smack to the face (rather than subtlely like I often think of his death when listening to their music)  it's still that great a song that it's a joy to listen to. The simple guitar riff reminds of earlier simpler times, almost a grungy version of a George Harrison "sadly weeping" solo which is paired with a driving bass, steady, hard drums, and easy-to-sing-along-with lyrics.

Quote
In light of Cobain's suicide in 1994, Allmusic's Mark Deming suggests that hearing "Cobain sing 'and I swear that I don't have a gun' gives 'Come as You Are' an edge it was never meant to have when [Nevermind] was first released in 1991." Deming reasons that the "I don't have a gun" lyric is Cobain's "attempt to reassure listeners that ... his target is the world at large rather than the individuals in it, and that there was still room in this damaged world for everyone".[5]
Source:  Come As You Are (Nirvana Song) (Wikipedia)

Kurt Cobain's hometown of Aberdeen, Washington, put up this sign at the city limits in his honor in 2005:



And here's the song Come As You Are
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