Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana
November 11, 2016
They’re loud, passionate, strange, and sometimes unplugged, but most importantly, they’re the voice of all teenagers; then and now. Everyone, at one point or another, has listened to them. Not many people look further into them, their stories, or what made them. They, like every musician to ever exist, have a story to be told. This is the story of two guys from Aberdeen, Washington, and a guy they met from Virginia. This is Nirvana.
Nirvana was formed in Aberdeen, Washington, in the late 80’s by band leader, guitarist, & vocalist Kurt Cobain, bassist Krist Noveselic, & drummer Chad Channing. Their music was fueled by the anger and confusion that can only be brought by puberty. While they definitely were angry, they also loved humor. They were fun, loud, and they trolled anyone who would bat them an eye. All of these components came together to make their 1989 debut “Bleach.” It features sporadic guitar, vocals, drums, bass, and lyrics that made little to no sense; but that’s why it was perfect for the times.
An entire generation who had previously been unheard was now getting their voice and the media wasn’t a fan. Whoever did buy the originally unsuccessful album was seen as a loser, but eventually, they’d all be silenced.
After a successful tour, Nirvana began to get attention, which Kurt used to show his full potential as a writer with their platinum-selling, second album “Nevermind.” Released in 1991, it featured many changes including: Dave Grohl replacing Chad on drums, increased pressure to sell out, and almost unheard of amounts of popularity, which really got under their skin. Nirvana was a band that hated all things mainstream, but ironically became the most popular band of the era.
Their success was absolutely catapulted by the success of their single “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which is now seen as one the best says ever written for its chaotic nature and ability to relate to teens. Combined with their now famous performances in which they’d trash stages, Nirvana was now being watched by everyone.
After being signed to a big record label, they grew afraid of all the hype that was being put on their next release. So, in order to separate the false fans from the true fans, they released “In Utero” in 1993. The album was the craziest Nirvana ever got. It was chaotic, every song was a complete contradiction, & it was undoubtedly their best album. Their true colors were released to everyone. Their humor, fun nature, and pain were all equally part of their troublesome, but beautiful LP.
This level of song writing prowess was not without sacrifice. In 1994, after making a legendary performance at MTV Unplugged, Kurt Cobain committed suicide at his house, leaving behind a wife and daughter. The world mourned because they lost their voice. However, they would never let him die. To this day, unreleased songs are still being shown to the public and posthumous releases and a mainstay in their chronology.
Nirvana influenced countless with their chaotic style, legendary performances, and unrivaled social change. The most important thing to remember, in the words of bassist Krist Noveselic, “Nirvana didn’t go to the mainstream, the mainstream came to Nirvana.” They were the voice of every generation, then and now.
They were Nirvana.