Nirvana, Guitar, 90’s, Angst Ridden Youth

Nice snapshot of the influence Nirvana (the band), has had on music: Searching for Nirvana

Whether you loved or hated them, they were a band to be reckoned with in the 90’s. Yeah Kurt went and did himself in and he’s a dickhead for it, leaving poor Francis Bean completely under the influence and guidance of Courtney Love, but the music is still a big deal.

My mid to late teens and also formative guitar learning years coincided with Nirvanas reign. Some how I managed to get through this decade without buying a single Nirvana album. Okay so I taped heaps of it off the radio, (yeah taped! Cassettes were still in vogue then!). I did however spend a lot of time with fellow aspiring musicians at high school playing and performing Nirvana songs.

Yes, school talent shows and formals were the appropriate place and time to grab your axe and start shredding away, while some guy in a beanie, (imaginatively dubbed beanie boy), donned his best flanno and grinded the lyrics out in front of a highly pubescent crowd of angst ridden youth. In school uniform. Well they weren’t always in uniform.

You know a band has truly left their mark on a generation when their songs or riffs become part of the standard musician repetoire. In the 90’s, fumbling new guitarists learnt these classics or the easier parts thereof: Smoke on the Water (Ozzie!), a smattering of Stairway to Heaven, Enter Sandman, The Unforgiven (yes Metallica scores at least 2) and Purple Haze. I’m sure there are others but I can’t remember all of them off the top of my head.

Then we begun to add some. No prizes for what would be considered the most played to death riff in the 90’s. Yep, Smells Like Teen Spirit. Hands down. Followed in no particular order by: Polly, About a Girl, Come as You Are, In Bloom and yeah, basically the entire Nevermind album. Then all of In Utero. Then all their other albums.

You could be locked in a room with teen musicians you have never met and start banging out just about anything Nirvana and you would all bond instantly, or at least everyone knew the songs. It was fantastic. Other songs and riffs that had this effect (and still probably do with the right generation), are: anything by Pearl Jam, I cannot stress how much fun it is to play the intro to Alive. That 8 or so fret slide at the beginning rocks. I defy any guitarist to tell me that doesn’t feel good to play and doesn’t rock. Almost anything by The Smashing Pumpkins, particularly from the Siamese Dream album is also up there, Cherub Rock is also another of those classic rock/grunge songs that just feels good to play, and was therefore constantly played in high school music rooms in the western world.

You cannot be an impressionable female guitarist in the 90’s and not like or play Hole. Yes, Kurt’s wife Courtney’s band. White trash femme rock topped off with a tiara. It was fantastic. All guitar playing Hole fans in the 90’s knew at least Doll Parts, it’s shit easy and even easier to caterwaul along with. Miss World and Violet are also mention worthy and of course Olympia.

The 90’s grunge scene was also subject to go all unplugged as soon as it had plugged in. The MTV unplugged performance Nirvana did was worshipped by all, and of course others followed such as Alice in Chains and Hole. Hole’s performance was particulary memorable if not for the dolls strung up by tule and the way Courtney straddled her stool. If she opened her legs any wider she would’ve swallowed it. The cameras were quick to pan away, thank god.

Okay, one more tangent, remember the article I linked to way up top? Yeah, well they put The Darkness in the same grouping as Kylie and Australian Idol. No, this is wrong, very wrong. The difference, The Darkness are fucking good. Yes, okay it is a matter of opinion, yadda yadda yadda. I don’t know if they are manufactured like Kylie or Idol, but if they are, it’s not obvious and I don’t care. Yes they are 80’s cock rock and they’re incredibly good at it. Classic solid rock arrangements, structre, solos, vocals and rythyms. And costumes. Coupled with fucking hilarious lyrics, but somehow not straight away seen as purely comedic or bleedingily, obviously self mocking. Well in any case, they’re good in their own way but also in a classic way.

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One Comment

  1. gem

    4 February 2005 at 11.29 am

    I am looking for people who are interested in completing a survey on Kurrt Cobain and his influence/impact? It is for a school major assignment.


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