Yesterday was the 20th Anniversary of Nirvana's iconic album, Nevermind. I've read a gazillion articles on how the album single-handedly changed music and a generation, which is very true and super interesting, but I want to talk about the impact it had on me, myself, and I. Yes, Nevermind changed everything from music to fashion to the attitude of young people around the world, but on a much smaller scale, it changed me. It made me. 

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I was 7 years old when Nevermind first popped into my life. It was Thanksgiving 1991, and we were feasting at my aunt and uncle's house. My older cousins, who I thought were the coolest, always thought it was funny to get a rise out of our sweet and super conservative grandma. (Out of pure love, of course!) The Nevermind album cover was pretty controversial at the time because it featured an infant's tiny, yet uber offensive, wee-wee (penis). The 90's obviously didn't know what was coming! Because of this sinfully naked baby, my cousin decided to show Grandma the album cover too see her reaction. That moment was the first time I laid eyes on Nevermind, and I remember the scene vividly to this day. After passing around the cover, my cuz decided to play the ever popular "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on the stereo, and I had never heard anything like it! I didn't want to like it, but I did... at 7.

Fast forward to 15 year old, teenage Whitney. A little blonde cheerleader with a CD collection full of Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, and Destiny's Child. I dressed up as Britney every Halloween, and made more Mariah Carey music videos (starring myself) than I'd like to admit. Then, as fate would have it, I met the coolest guy I had ever met at that point in my life. We were on a week long youth group trip, and he was there from another state. Okay, it seemed like he was there from another world. While my high school was full of football playing, Nascar watching, American Eagle wearing, clean-cut boys... this guy was dirty. Good dirty. He had long hair dyed with different colors and wore clothes he bought from thrift stores. He was beautiful and really cool and he didn't even know it. He sat around by himself with his headphones on most of the time, and I finally got the nerve to talk to him. I guess I played it cool, (doubtful) because we quickly became friends and he let me listen to his CD with him... Amazingly, it was Nevermind. He told me, with a lot of excitement, that Nirvana was one of his favorite bands. Number 2, to be exact. He was so passionate about their music, and had me listen to more and more and more. It was amazing and awakening! For some reason, at that confusing point in my life, I needed Nirvana bad, and all of the sudden, there they were. They were throwing themselves at me through one little ear of the headphones we were sharing. They were raw and they were real. It was music I could feel in my bones and my insides. It was scary, yet incredibly necessary. Essential. Vital. I had never really been exposed to that kind of music before, so I was unaware that I desperately needed it! My glittery pink robot bubble had been burst, and I was finally alive. From that moment on I was hooked, and there was no throwing me back. I was ready for the ride. I wanted to know everything! Soon we had to go back home, but thanks to having my own phone line (pre-cell phones) and AOL, we talked all the time and he fueled my Nirvana interest into a full grown obsession. I truly believe it was fate that we met, because Future Whitney would need Nirvana to literally save her life in a few years time. (Specifically, the song "Lithium", but that is a-whole-nother story!)

Me in all my white eye shadow glory, that very enlightening week :)
After attempting to analyze why Nevermind pulled me in, I think it all comes down to the music and the combination of each musician's unique style. It's extremely rare to observe such deep emotion in a singer's voice. I think that's where Nirvana first got me. Listening to Kurt sing, I almost feel guilty, like I'm reading his diary or eavesdropping on his most personal moments. He bleeds his emotions through his voice and his melodies. His vocals are so intense and raw and blistering. His songs play with the dynamics of loud and soft, and fast and slow. The verses are soft/quiet and the choruses are fast/loud, or vice versa. I love that a song like "In Bloom" will start out slow and sing-songy, and then build up to this bellowing screaming chorus that you can't help but scream along to yourself. Loudly. Then it slows down again so you have to wait for that powerful release once more. And it's so worth the wait. Gosh, that's totally what I love about their music! When Kurt is singing, it's so beautiful and perfect, yet so imperfect at the same time. Then when he screams, (on key, may I add) he screams with such intensity and explosiveness, that it engulfs your entire insides and makes you feel what he feels. I feel their music, which I can't do with most other artists. Listening to one of their songs is a physical and mental experience, as opposed to background noise or entertainment. Not to mention, Dave Grohl is one of the greatest rock drummers of all time. Nirvana's drum sound (since Dave joined the band) just blows my ever-loving mind! Dave is a beast behind a kit, as is Krist Novoselic slapping a bass. The bass sound on Nevermind is just as incredible! I honestly never paid attention to bass in music (sorry) before listening to Nirvana. Krist gives you no choice but to notice the bass, and it's deep and dirty in a non-Metallica way. Just add a lot of guitar and feedback to that mix, and Nirvana is IT for me! 

"In Bloom"

While Nevermind is not my favorite Nirvana album, (In Utero is) it is so important and dear to me because it was the bait that hooked me for life. I don't know if I would have dug any deeper into Nirvana if the first album I had heard was In Utero or Bleach. Those albums are grittier and louder than Nevermind, which I love now, but at 15, going from bubblegum pop to rock, Nevermind was perfect! It's an album that genuinely means so much to me. It, and he who introduced it to me, changed my life in a whirlwind! They were it, and I am beyond thankful for both! I can't imagine my life, and getting through the things I've been through, if I only had processed, mass appeal, "pop" music to keep me going. There's absolutely no way I would be who I am today without Nirvana, and it makes me sick to my stomach thinking about the alternative. Nevermind gave me the desire to discover more about Nirvana. My love for Nirvana led me to discover R.E.M., Smashing Pumpkins, Bikini Kill, Hole, Foo Fighters, Black Flag, Black Sabbath, Meat Puppets, Pixies, Sonic Youth, and more. All of those bands helped me figure out what styles and sounds speak to me the most so I can seek out current bands that make me "feel". Hakuna Matata! It's the circle of life that all started for me, with Nirvana's Nevermind album. Happy Anniversary!!!* 

Pretty cool: Breaking down the recording of "Something In The Way"

*I don't know if I could successfully give the perfect tribute to Nevermind on it's anniversary. Maybe with a new language consisting of more meaningful words than the most meaningful words we already have would convey my love and appreciation for this album better, but we're all stuck with what is here.  
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