Like many adolescents of my generation, my bedroom walls were plastered with Nirvana posters. I formed a high school cover band, aptly named ‘Stubble’, which would attempt to reproduce their grungy sound, straining my throat in devotion to Kurt’s mangy, cigarette damaged vocals. I even tried, briefly, to re-learn the guitar left handed.
I did however, find it difficult to reconcile the universalism of songs such as ‘Come as you are’ and Kurt’s jab at the ‘allegedly backward red-state’ (Nowicki) bumpkin depicted in ‘In Bloom’ with my political views at the time . It seemed that there was a disconnect between the surface of his lyrics and interviews and the deeper nihilism and hopelessness imbued in the loud-quiet back and forth, and the unsettling open chord reverb.
One of the reasons young cover bands like playing Nirvana is that their songs are catchy and easy to play. Well, at least for the individual band members. Managing to create a final product that doesn’t sound like a screeching, howling mess – that is the hard part.
Misunderstood by most, its punk-rebel appearance is acceptable to the mainstream as a safe ‘F— The Man’ outlet for young people. I recall one of my friends commenting that ‘Kurt would be turning in his grave’ if he could hear the ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ electronic dance remix blaring at us at the after-party of our high-school graduation.
I’ll leave you with one of my favourites – a cover of ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ written by David Bowie of all people.