Nirvana – Rock’s Great Depression


At twelve years old I found myself in a country where I didn’t speak the language, being mocked by a culture I didn’t understand and pushed in to a school that followed a religion that went against my nature. In class I would sit with a bilingual dictionary translating common words and trying to learn them by heart as no one was taking the time to help me communicate. When class finished I would get the bus back to the dusty little village my parents had moved us to and run up the stairs of the decrepit old school house we were living in to find my favourite audio cassette that I had saved up my pennies to buy when I was back in Glasgow.
The album was called: Appetite for destruction and it was my anger and frustration being vented for me. I would sit on the window ledge of my bedroom with it blasting out of a cash and carry tape player I had been gifted for Christmas. It was the best part of the day and became a ritual for my first year in the deep south of France.
As the years went by I made a few friends and we would swap tapes, record tracks off of the radio and spend hours talking about and listening to music. We started digging in to the new and the old, from Metallica to 70s rock to a re emerging electronic scene. If we could get our hands on it we would listen to it and an original copy of an album was considered a bit of a treasure. We were invested in music and it felt like music was invested in us. It spoke to us, for us, put on a show, inspired creativity and made us speak a universal language. If you didn’t know what to say, you’d put on a song to suit your message, your mood or as a way to help a friend discover something new. It was the 90s and musically speaking a great time to be a kid. That is, until we hit Nirvana.
At the time I didn’t understand what was happening. My best mate had said to me to check out an album called Nevermind and I did and I loved it. Here was what was going to be the next big thing and we all bought in to it as it sounded great. What we missed was what the messenger was doing to our psyche. A self absorbed junkie playing the anti cool to be cool and telling us all about how shitty he felt and we completely missed that he wasn’t talking to us. He wasn’t reaching out to us with a message or a warning or a story. He was bitching about his self loathing and discontent with his own existence. In short he was dragging us in to his depression and to this day Rock music has not fully recovered.

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