For the second year in a row, a curious thing has happened once autumn has settled in. For some reason, I suddenly want to listen to Nirvana.
Growing up as a teenager, I was firmly on the Pearl Jam side of the Nirvana/PJ debate, though I certainly liked and admired Nirvana. Even then, I recognized Kurt Cobain’s tortured musical genius (which was underrated then and is probably overrated now).
Lately I’ve definitely been going through musical phases. In early summer, I picked up the Smashing Pumpkins’ Zeitgeist and listened to the Pumpkins non-stop for about two months. After that I suddenly and weirdly shifted to the White Stripes, who previously I’d never really liked at all. But then came the cold weather, and with that, Nirvana.
It’s not happy music, which may be part of the reason I’m drawn to it around this time. It has none of the bouncy funk or whimsical blues of the Stripes or the hypnotic drone of the Pumpkins. It doesn’t have the comfortable, classic-rock feel of Pearl Jam. Nirvana’s music is as troubled as its primary creator, full of poppy riffs clashing with discordant notes and Cobain’s sorrowful keening.
There’s a darkness about their music, especially on In Utero, that I seem to dig around this time of year. The first Nirvana song I really noticed was “Heart-Shaped Box” (yes, somehow I missed “Smells Like Teen Spirit” initially), and it’s still my favorite. Though by 1993 the conventional wisdom in rock was that there was nothing new under the sun, “Heart-Shaped Box” was one of the weirdest rock compositions to hit the mainstream (though maybe the freaky music video affected my youthful perception of the song).
I know this will pass in a week or two, as it did last year, and I’ll move on to my November standbys (“Alice’s Restaurant,” anyone?). But given the odd fact that I’m once again listening to Nirvana in the fall, I wanted to discuss it here for posterity. After all, I’ve got to put something in this blog.
Working on a big post about Halo 3. Hope to have it up soon.