Tuesday, April 5, 2011

90s Music: Nirvana

On April 5, 1994, Kurt Cobain took his own life and robbed the world of any further musical genius that he had to offer.  (Obviously, it's more important that he wasn't there to raise his daughter, but since I didn't know him personally, this is about the music.)  I can't believe he's been dead for 17 years.  Considering how repetitively I listened to Nirvana albums during my formative years, it still feels like Cobain's legacy lives on through his smaller-than-it-should-be song collection.  Let's look at some of my favorite songs (this may or may not include their biggest hits):

"Blew" - The first track off their "Bleach" album.  This song rocks in a dirty punky way, but also shows the obvious potential for catchy songs they were about to put out a few years later on "Nevermind." 

"Aneurysm" - I'm going to talk about "Incesticide" first because a lot of these tracks were recorded before "Nevermind" even though the physical album was released afterward. This song has multiple phases and is very well written. The "She keeps it pumping straight to my heart" portion of the song is a fine climax to cap off a great tune.

"Drain You" - I'm totally stoked that I found the video I wanted for this song. It's from MTV Live in 1992. Kurt has pink hair and they rock this song. It has pop sensibility with a grungy build up in the final third of the song. This might be one of the most underrated tracks they ever released as it was never a huge hit, but really is one of their best.

"Lithium" - Ok, besides the fact that this song is unbelievably awesome, here is another video that I'm excited to find. Dana Carvey intros the band at the 1992 MTV Music Video Awards. Kurt plays a few bars of "Rape Me" to give MTV execs a heart-attack, then goes on to play a killer version of "Lithium." Of course, the cherry on top is when bassist Krist Noveselic throws his bass in the air and hits himself in the face. IN THE FACE!

"Radio Friendly Unit Shifter" - This song is also highly underrated. For anyone who complains about "In Utero," just chill. The album is full of great songs. Sure, it's less pop-y than "Nevermind" but it's a great album none-the-less. If you want to rock, then look no further than this song.

"Heart Shaped Box" - I'm trying to balance some singles in to this post along with some of the lesser known tracks. This song is obviously one of their big singles. It's still awesome, and holds up well in 2011.

"On A Plain" (Unplugged) - The whole "Unplugged In New York" album is just amazing. Seeing a band that naturally loves to rock with punk/grunge riffs as the backbone of their music then go completely acoustic is interesting. Seeing them make that transition into something wholly beautiful is a whole other ball game. It's hard to pick specific tracks, but I do love this song.

"Where Did You Sleep Last Night" - A Leadbelly cover tune (from 1944 no less) that seems appropriate to be the closer to this post. Nirvana transformed music for the better. It's unfortunate that Kurt Cobain is gone, but their music will live on for generations to come.


GMoney said...

Now you're talking my language.

I've always thought that Sliver was an incredible two minutes of music as well as either "Down" or "Downer". Can't remember it right now. It was on Bleach.

Count me as one who thinks that In Utero was their weakest effort. I still don't like Heart Shaped Box. Serve the Servants was a far superior song.

Would anyone know who the Meat Puppets were without Nirvana Unplugged? I say no.

Tony B. said...

The song was "Downer" and it was on Bleach and Incesticide. Great song- not for the masses, though.

I actually saw a recent video of the Meat Puppets playing "Oh, Me" at South by Southwest in Austin. It was terrible. It was like they hadn't rehearsed in 15 years, decided to play a song that they played with Nirvana years ago, and threw it together a few days before the show. I'll give them credit though- "Backwater" was a GREAT song.

Brandon said...

I haven't listened to Nirvana in forever. Your post may have inspired an afternoon of Nirvana youtube playlists.