In the fall of 1991, I was eleven years old, having just started sixth grade in a new town since my family had moved that summer. I was new to the parts and didn’t really have any friends so I would come home to the condo that was usually empty while my brother was off trying to fit in with the kids at his new high school. One day wasting time watching MTV a strange video came on, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by the band Nirvana. While I watched the band tear apart a gym, I might have tapped my foot, but probably on first watch just stared blankly seeing that unlike most rock videos I had seen, people weren’t partying but angry and expressing their frustration by destroying everything around them. Subsequent viewing, I found myself tearing up the room, overturning chairs, jumping around and working myself into a sweat. A few months later my brother made me a tape of the Nevermind CD that he borrowed from a friend of his.
Thinking back I honestly don’t know why I liked the music. I guess I didn’t feel lonely when I’d listen to it, as well as Red Hot Chili Pepper’s, Blood Sugar Sex Magic and my favorite, Pearl Jam’s Ten. I had been occasionally listening to music before this time, but it was sort of a random occurrence, listening to Def Leppard, Guns and Roses, and the oldies radio station. It wasn’t till we moved that I really began to constantly lock myself away in my room, listening to these new rock groups with long hair that wasn’t frizzy, clothed in dirty shirts and jeans, and coming from the fabled land of Seattle- a place that became some sort of Mecca for me [which was why nine years later I’d travel on the Greyhound bus to live the summer there].
This music was loud, dark, and disjointed at times, but its inspiration was the beginning of a new level of consciousness for me, as I started to become aware of my emotions in a less childlike way. Obviously this music led me on a melancholic path, but looking back it was appropriate. It reflected the age I was growing up in. The indulgence of the ’80s had long since passed, there was war, recession, and the politically correct revolution was spreading a new era of repression across America- creating the dissatisfied climate the millions of new teenagers like myself would come to know all too well in their isolated islands of suburban wasteland. I grew up and watched in awe as I witnessed the peak of the so-called Generation X, the last generation to unite on a common level. I wondered if my generation would be able to bond on such a level, considering that the only consistency we have is the fact that so far we’ve remained silent. There’s still one hope however- we can all eventually turn our backs on the one common lesson everyone our age was taught and bred upon: cynicism.
The problem nevertheless comes right back to where I started, with a three-piece rock band from Seattle and their charismatic front man Kurt Cobain, along with the question- who do we have to look up to? Quite possibly one of the last larger than life icons in the rock genre, [the rest of the true icons in music have been rap artists] whose story can be laid out like all the great clich