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1992, Nirvana and Ryan by orlandooom407

The year: 1992. “The Year that Punk Broke” or whatever the fuck they called it in retrospect. I was eleven going on twelve years old. A lot happened in 1992. Bill Clinton became POTUS. John “The Teflon Don” Gotti got sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to commit murder and racketeering. Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida. Mike Tyson was convicted of raping Miss Black Rhode Island, Desiree Washington. Much like today, all kinds of bizarre shit was going on around the world.

There were two things that happened in 1992 that changed and shaped my life forever. The first is the exoneration of four police officers for beating the absolute fucking dog shit out of the late Rodney King, and the subsequent riots that burned a portion of Los Angeles to the ground. At that point in my life I had no idea who I really was, but I was starting to rebel against everything. Parents, teachers, religion, you name it. At such a young age racial equality (or lack thereof, more accurately) wasn’t something I really thought about. I was just a white kid from the largely African-American community of Pine Hills, Florida. Much like any other pre-teen I wanted to ride BMX bikes, play football, and that type of thing. However, I was starting to figure out that I was really fucking angry. I was angry about a lot of things, but I couldn’t (and still don’t know if I can) pin point exactly what it was or is. At any rate, the L.A. riots got me paying attention to social injustices, politics, and just the world around me. I can’t really tell you if that’s a good or bad thing, but it is what it is.

The second thing that happened was a little band you may have heard of called Nirvana was thrust upon popular culture. I don’t think I could legitimately call myself a fan of Nirvana. Sure, they were a huge part of my childhood and introduced me to a lot of things that I love to this day. I do have a lot of problems with Nirvana as a band, but they aren’t important. What is important is how important Nirvana are as a band in the annals of rock ‘n roll history. It shouldn’t be forgotten.

As a child of the 80’s I was plagued with shit like Whitney Houston and even worse: hair bands. All the fucking “Living on a Prayer” and “Talk Dirty to Me” bullshit. I couldn’t relate to that goddamn nonsense. It seemed like I woke up one morning and all of a sudden all those bands were dead in the water, and here’s these three dirty sons a bitches from the Pacific Northwest that were fucking angry. About what? I had no clue. I couldn’t understand a fucking word Cobain sang. I didn’t mind, though. I didn’t need to know. I didn’t even know why I was angry, so it didn’t matter. They were just angry and accidentally throwing the entire record industry for a loop in the process. I felt I could relate to it.

I’m going to leave my negative feelings about Nirvana aside, and talk about the positives for this article. Whether you love them, or hate them matters not. You have to somewhat admire the dudes. I mean, for fuck’s sake they hammered the nails into the coffin of bullshit glam metal. Everyone should be forever thankful for that. To me, they were essentially the suburban white version of N.W.A. While N.W.A. were screaming “FUCK THA POLICE!” Nirvana were screaming whatever the hell they were screaming to suburban teens fed up with their mundane lives.

I’ve always felt that my generation didn’t really have any sort of identity. You had your beatniks, your baby boomers, your hippies, your disco queens, generation X, all this shit. We had Super Nintendo and….Nirvana. That’s pretty much it. Now that we’re all in our thirties, I can look back and say there is absolutely nothing exceptional about my generation. Though Nirvana changed the direction of the music industry forever, as a band, I don’t think there’s anything exceptional about them. I think that perfectly represents the generation of which I came from.

Anyway, whether you like it or not, if you’re in your early to mid-thirties, Nirvana were a big part of your childhood. At one point in time they were the biggest band on the planet. Kurt Cobain once said that the way he wanted ‘Nevermind’ to sound was like if the Bay City Rollers were being molested by Black Flag. I honestly think that’s a perfect description of the album. So, there you have it. Nirvana were the Bay City Rollers being molested by Black Flag, and white kids of the 90’s were being molested by Nirvana.

Though I don’t consider myself a fan, I do have respect for Nirvana and what they accomplished. Their impact on rock ‘n roll isn’t only undeniable, but it was absolutely necessary at the time. I thank them for that.

*side note: Though I absolutely HATE that Nirvana covered Turn Around by Devo, I do feel I should give some credit where credit is due. Normally I would be against anyone covering Leadbelly, but I’ll be goddamned if they didn’t absolutely nail this cover of Where Did You Sleep Last Night. It says a lot that I love it because as I previously stated I’m against anyone covering Leadbelly, and I fucking despised the whole MTV Unplugged concept. Bunch a bullshit, I say.

Thanks for taking the time to read my inane ramblings!

-Ryan Pemberton

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