Thursday, February 20, 2014

teenage angst has paid off well

Kurt Cobain would have been old today, and I don't know what he'd be doing, if he'd still be writing music or wasting away ala Layne Staley or who knows. I've been listening to more Hole than Nirvana as of late even though Nirvana's a better band and at least wrote all their own songs for the most part.

My first exposure to the voice of generation x was in the car with my dad, hearing "In Bloom" and thinking it sounded cool, but it wasn't til later when teenage alienation drove me into full-on music geekery that it really clicked. Grunge might have been worn out by then, as the late 90's were when the baritone cliches of angst took over the airwaves and generica sounded downright profound juxtaposed with the Fred Dursts of the world. Being in an unhip suburb, and a late bloomer in general, it took some time to develop college radio taste.

Randal's Big Four were the thrash bands, mine were the Seattle heavy-hitters. Nirvana got me into the Wipers and the Melvins and the Meat Puppets, got me wearing converse sneakers instead of dorky reeboks, connected me with other lonely suburban souls who maintain our bonds more or less to this day. My first guitar was a squier jagmaster which was the closest I could get to Fender Mustang territory on a poor high school kid's budget. My first serious crush was on a boy who looked like Kurt Cobain. One of my longtime friends started talking to me because we recognized a common affinity for heroin-addled Seattle musicians. I don't know why we related so much, given that we were pretty strait-laced but it is what it is.

We drove to prom listening to old subpop compilations and singing along to "Touch Me I'm Sick" and "Negative Creep." We debated whether or not Courtney did him in or drove him to it. At this point I no longer care, but this was something that was on our minds back then.

My first year of college at a small religious institution around the corner from Bamgier was an extremely lonely year, especially the second semester where I pretty much sequestered myself in the art building with a boombox and listened to b-sides and In Utero on repeat and almost had a nervous breakdown. I had friends, but my closest one dropped out after a semester and the rest were 7 years old than me, graduating and married.

I did a portrait of Kurt for an art project that came out really well and hung on the wall at every place I lived during the college years. The one where he has a bunch of eyeliner on. For some reason he's the only person in my world who can get away with that. 

My sister has a Nirvana shirt and doesn't even like the band, I saw one for sale at Wal-Mart once and thought that seemed kind of wrong so I didn't buy it. It's almost moved beyond a band into a brand at this point but the tunes still hold up really well as I head into my thirties. "Bleach" always holds a special place in my heart for its rawness, the covers and odds and sods of Incesticide are better than most bands' official albums, I love the wateriness of Nevermind, and the battery-acid corrosion of "In Utero." I was a little overwhelmed with how many memories I have tied up in these songs, how many moments of teenage joy and overwhelming angst. It's so cliche to admit, and absolutely true.

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