She’s the one who likes all their pretty songs.

If you’ve seen the disaster that is my closet, you’ve probably noticed the disproportionate number of gowns and cocktail dresses that I’ve accumulated over a few years of singing classical music for formal events.

And also, I went to like twelve proms.

However, if you dig a little deeper (I’m not sure why you’re hypothetically rummaging through my closet, but I would be much obliged if you’d humor me for the sake of transition), you’ll start to uncover relics from another part of my (musical) identity.

Examples of things you might find would include:

– Black, rubber-soled, 3 inch platform combat boots straight out of the 90’s that I bought for 6 dollars at a thrift shop…If there had been a Punk Spice, she would have worn them.

-an old bra signed with the friends’ names that they threw at me as a joke after my first show as the front woman for the world-renowned punk/grunge powerhouse “Combat Ginger” (we had like 50 likes on facebook. It was the real deal).

– Various books and articles of clothing with Kurt Cobain’s face on them

That’s right everyone. I had a grunge phase. I still know every word of Nevermind, and I talk about Kurt as if he and I are old chums. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is about Nirvana’s music that affected me so deeply, but I have a number of theories. The first, and most likely, is that I am Kurt Cobain reincarnated, but considering I was raised Catholic, I really shouldn’t claim to believe this in a public sphere without alienating a vast majority of my extended family. The second is the pretty widely accepted notion of Kurt’s teenage angst resonating with my teenage angst filled self. Lastly, Nirvana illustrated for me an idea that punk started to develop. This was the idea that that sometimes, you just need to make noise. Nevermind that good kids keep their mouths shut. Nevermind that good kids do what they’re told. Nevermind that good kids pretend to be happy, even when they’re not…

I firmly believe that Nirvana made revolutionary music. They combined catchy melodies with crunchy riffs and guitar sound that hadn’t been heard before. As I further develop my voice as a songwriter, I am beginning to realize how much listening to their albums 80 million times affected my voice as a writer. Though I typically write acoustically (is that a word?), I’ve become similarly inclined to finding an interesting and authentic balance between the unusual and the accessible. Because of my obsession (there’s really no other word for it) with Nirvana, I read pretty much everything ever written about Kurt Cobain. Albeit there were many “unofficial biographies” from which I was drawing information, I was always left with the sense that Nirvana didn’t ‘construct’ songs. Cobain’s writing dug right in to the depths of his tortured, sensitive, lonely, heroin-addicted soul and then tied it up in a thrashing bundle of noise that said “hey messed-up world, I’ve got something to say. Listen. Or don’t. Because I don’t really give a rat’s tush”. Now here is the point where I would normally descend into a raving fangirl’s analysis of Kurt’s psychological issues in my own attention-deficit manner. However, I will attempt to coral myself back onto the right track.

 

Some people just don’t understand. *Dramatic emo sigh*. I had a teacher who said the chorus to Nevermind was just a bunch of nonsensical words. I won’t deny the possibility that Nirvana’s lyrics were simply the chance composition of a drug-addled brain, but I don’t agree with this theory at all. I mean, come on.

“I feel stupid, and contagious. Here we are now, entertain us. An albino, a mosquito. A mulatto, my libido”.

Clearly (facetiously clears throat), these lyrics imply that the subject:

-feels awkward(contagiously stupid)

-and annoying (mosquito)

-and doesn’t fit in with the majority (albino)

-and possibly feels like he is mocked by directionless youth because they have nothing better to do

-feels like a slave to his own sexuality

Personally, I think these lyrics are much more complex than my prof gave them credit for. There are more interesting ways to say “I feel like a loser” than to actually say “I feel like a loser”. Writing clichés is pretty much plagiarizing public domain. That’s boring.

However:

In my opinion, a lot of music today just plain tries too hard to be innovative.  I know if I’m going to make a claim like this I should back it up with an explanation, and I will in a future post. Now, I should put in a tidy transition here and then wrap this puppy up. Instead, I will acknowledge that this is a crappy transition and then wrap it up anyway.

The reason this album resonated with me so much was that I discovered it at a time when I felt like I was a really messed up human being and in addition, that I couldn’t talk about the fact that I felt like a messed up human being. I could spend a crapload of time giving a Cobain-centric history lesson, but the moral of the story is that he wrote for himself. He didn’t write for public consumption or to get famous or to get people to worship him because he was such a complex, unique human being. He wrote because it was the only way he knew to cope. Besides heroin.

I think the number one thing we need to look for in the music of the past is the authenticity and innovation. Not so that we can imitate it, but so we can relate to it. When we relate to music that truly captures the human existence, we become all the more able to recognize and extract authentic creativity from ourselves.

Ours is a world of manufacturing. How can we use modern technology to enhance our ability to communicate rather than to trivialize it?

And that’s all for today folks.

Shalom.

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