I’m writing today, as many others are, on the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. For many around my age (34), it was a significant moment–one of those nodes you trace your appreciation of life through. I even planned to write a novel in which a young chap of… oh, let’s say 14 had just awakened to “good” music through Nirvana only to realise as his enthusiasm rises that this icon has killed himself. Then I read Nick Hornby’s About a Boy and decided I needed a different dramatic arc.
But it’s true: I owe my love of good music to Nirvana. And Aerosmith, to be honest. Pearl Jam captured my soul and my passion, but it wouldn’t have happened without “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Before that, I had been a techno-hip-hop enthusiast, following my dedication to DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Anything with electric guitars was obviously heavy metal, i.e., music my brother liked, and therefore worthy of rejection tout court. (Oddly, Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet evaded such classification, but that could be because of my Aunt Barb. Or maybe I liked the thought of one small patch of common ground between me and my brother.) I was the first in the family to have a CD player, and the first CD I got to go with it was X-Tendamix Dance Mix ’92, a lively compilation from our friends at MuchMusic. I would go crazy, dumb-dancing in the corner at school dances while all the other kids lined up, boys on one side of the gym, girls on the other, and met in the middle song by song to hold their rigid hands against the appropriate waist or shoulder, bobbing back and forth like zombie buoys in an ocean of crappy music. Continue reading