Nevermind (the years that have passed)
By Alex Gillies
Firstly, this story isn’t special or probably any different to several million other people my age. It’s not a macro-story but a micro-story. I’ve read a lot of commentary over the last few days about the 20th anniversary of the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind. Most of it a waste of time. Some of it strikingly poignant (Collapse Board Article). I started this post with some random memories, but with the intent of finishing with something more fleshed out and even with a punchline. In the end though, I decided to stick to random memories. Feel free to compare them to your random memories of the same topic.
It was the 24th September 1991 that Geffen Records released Nirvana’s album Nevermind. That’s 20 years ago this week. You already know the story of Nirvana so I’m not going to repeat it. As for me. I was 15 and I’d just moved from living with one parent in the rural Darling Downs to living with another parent in coastal Mackay – both far far away from the bright lights of the big city. It was rough seas in my teenage world with trouble at school and at home. I had spent about seven or eight years previously listening to my dad’s old school blues and white jazz and me listening to whatever 80s pop was in the charts. I read Smash Hits magazine and the outer reaches of alternative to me was Aerosmith.
I’m not lying when I say that I still remember sitting on the floor in the loungeroom on a Saturday morning in November watching Rage when I first saw the film clip for ‘Teen Spirit’. Something really clicked with that song. It so sounds like cheesy nostalgia to say that now but it was all I talked to people at school about the next week. A friend who was already switch on dubbed me two tapes, the two in the photo below:
I played those tapes incessantly. I played and paused ‘Teen Spirit’ until I had the lyrics written out and blue-tacked to my wall. I sat there and tried to figure out what ‘Chaka’ meant written on the front of Dave Grohl’s kick-drum (it was many years later I found out it was a LA graffiti writer). That week, I also discovered the Ramones, Sonic Youth, Henry Rollins, the Pixies (The UK Surf Mix of ‘Wave Of Mutilation’ is my fav Pixies song to this day), Concrete Blonde, Leonard Cohen and more. Soon I would hear Black Flag, Bad Brains and more amazing bands. I have a recollection from around that time of throwing the John Farhnam CD my mum bought me, onto the train tracks outside my back fence just before one of the cane trains came rolling past.
I put this tape in the tape player last night and listened to it. It sounded so terrible. No treble left at all but it still played!
A few months later home life went south and on my 16th birthday so did I, with a train ticket for a birthday present. I didn’t have any money to buy a proper copy so I just listened to my tape in my walkman, turned it over and listened to Bleach, turned it over and so forth and so forth… until I need to go and get more batteries. Unfortunately, I returned to Brisbane four weeks after Nirvana played Festival Hall. I didn’t get to go (of course) but I did track down a tour poster (see above).
Soon I started working my first jobs and as soon as I had saved enough money, I started buying proper copies of what ever I could afford. I would catch the train for an hour into the city, go to Kent Records (my teenage self was too intimidated by the staff at Rocking Horse to go there). I didn’t have a record player but I didn’t care because I’d started … collecting records. I think I spent at least two or three years listening to my dubbed tape and just reading and looking at my records. I also bought any and every magazine that had anything to do with Nirvana in it.
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