This past week marked the 20th anniversary of the release of Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” and like a dutiful GenXer, I tuned into Palladia to watch the band in never-before released footage of a 1991 concert in Seattle.
Watching the show was, in a way, like flipping through old Christmas photos. You see yourself, you remember the emotions and excitement of Christmas morning, and yet there is a barrier. You can no longer truly feel or believe as you once did, because time moves on and innocence, in myriad ways, is always lost.
So, while I could still feel the energy and conjure up a bit of teenage angst while listening to Nirvana, to be honest there was part of me that kept thinking: grow up, get a haircut and stop complaining.
Of course for Kurt Cobain, that isn’t an option. He will always be locked in the old photograph, the grainy concert footage of despairing youth. I guess there is something strangely fitting about that – like James Dean or John Lennon to be frozen in time at the height of his powers. (He will never become the specter that is the typical aging rocker.) But there is also something sad beyond words, that in the end he could never cross the ocean of despair to discover a life that is tragic, yes, but not without its joys or reasons for living.
I think I’ll always listen to Nirvana, like I will always enjoy Christmas morning. While I no longer believe in Santa or the power of grunge rock anthems, I guess the truth is that paradoxically I do in some way. I remember asking my late grandfather once if he remembered being age 15. He said he did, but more so, in a sense he was 15, along with 6, 19, 48, 75… . We are the sum of all our years as we move through life – perhaps losing pieces of our former selves, but patching together the remaining fragments to gain a new perspective along the way.
So, this week I’ll crank Smells Like Teen Spirit to appease my inner 15-year-old, and tell my grown adult self to deal with it.
Rock on, Kurt.