Happy Birthday, Kurt. RIP

In my angstiest, angriest teenage days, I was a big Nirvana fan. Huge. Posters on my wall, staying up at night to watch the videos on Alternative Nation. I mostly kept the obsession to myself — not everyone at my school was into rock music. My alternateen existence was mainly shared with a few classmates, and the guys who ran the booth where I bought my music at the mall. Every week I spent my allowance at a so-obviously-illegal kiosk, where all of the latest albums were copied on cassette.

Yes, I was BIG into cassettes. I’ve still got quite a collection.

Anyway, at this particular kiosk I got everything I wanted. All of the music I saw on cable TV and in my Sassy magazines, the music they totally weren’t playing on the radio in Trinidad. I bought albums by Green Day and Bjork and Soundgarden. And I got every Nirvana album from Bleach to Unplugged, all on cassette. I practically burned a hole in those tapes, rewinding songs just to hear Kurt Cobain’s yowl, so filled with pain and emotion.

I remember his death very clearly, even though I was somewhere hot and bright, so far away from bleak Seattle. I was at my friend Carys’ house. My brother called, because he’d seen it on the news and he knew about the posters on my wall and my tape collection. I cried for Kurt, and I wanted so much to be in a place where fellow Nirvana fans were sharing their grief.

That was in 1994. Today, February 20, would have been Kurt Cobain’s 43rd birthday. To give tribute to him, I present my top 5 favorite Nirvana songs.

5 — In Bloom.

This was one of Nirvana’s most amusing videos, and gave a glimpse to a side of the band that was less angry and tormented. Dave Grohl hamming it up in costume was just a foreshadowing of Foo Fighters videos to come. And the song is everything I love about the band — biting lyrics, rock n roll attitude, unexpected harmonies, and great songwriting.

4 — Dumb.

If you’re allergic to hard rock, yowling vocals and screeching guitars, you’ll probably love Nirvana’s Unplugged album. In my opinion it is hands down the greatest Unplugged album out there. The band took the opportunity to intersperse their original songs with some truly inspired covers. It’s a must have for any music collection. Click here to treat yourself. This is one of my favorites, stripped down to beautiful effect. “I’m not like them, but I can pretend…”

3 — Lithium.

Behind Smells Like Teen Spirit, this is one of those quintessentially popular Nirvana mosh pit type of songs. Their traditional quiet-loud song structure is in full effect, and the lyrics are classic Nirvana. Dark and introspective and troubled.

2 — Love Buzz.

My first Nirvana album was Nevermind, and then I absolutely had to get everything they’d made. First I got Incesticide, then I got Bleach. Early Nirvana was so primal and quirky, less despondent than some of the later material on In Utero. Love Buzz rocks. Point blank, period.

1 — About a Girl.

One of their earliest songs — originally released on Bleach — stripped down and made acoustic on what would turn out to be the band’s final album. If you remember MTV in the Nineties, this song may be as engraved on your mind as it is mine.

RIP, Kurt Cobain, and happy birthday. You left this world too soon.

Were you a Nirvana fan? What are your favorites?

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Comments

  1. Well I’m only 21 and only discovered nirvana at the age of 15 and i remember how excited i was to find this music that represented so much of what i felt as teenager. The first time i heard lithium i imagined hearing it live and i was sooo in love with this “new band” and then i took to the internet only to find out it wasn’t a new band but then to find out Kurt was dead i was so devastated i missed that entire era of music. I still dream about how great it would have been to attend at least one nirvana concert. Honestly Kurt’s music held me together during my teen years. R.I.P Kurt.

  2. R.I.P. Kurt
    I was a big Nirvana fan too tho I always gave his wife Courtney the side-eye.

  3. My fave has got to be “Smells like teen spirit”. That was big when I was in high school. :)

  4. I was a young mother and moved to Seattle in the 90′s. I discovered this new sound and secretly loved it. It actually helped in my counseling sessions w/students.The music was so emotional and raw.

    Kurt’s music impacted Seattle in unexpected places. For ex, my church band played their music in the adult & youth services (changed some of the lyrics). I dont think many of the members were aware. But, the kids and I definetly knew and rocked.:) I met Kurt’s aunt at church. She had the same deep emotional connection in her music. Maybe it was in their DNA. …Thanks for sharing some of my favs. I will see how Seattle fans are remembering Kurt today.

  5. I always loved Nirvana and I was devastated when Kurt passed. I still remember Kurt Loader announcing it on MTV News. My favorite songs were “Jesus wants me as a sunbeam.” Maybe that wasn’t the title, but I loved the whole Unplugged concert and that was my fav song. Also Heart-Shaped Box. Your picks were amazing as well. Nirvana left such a blueprint for other rock bands that followed. It’s a shame it was so short lived. RIP Kurt

  6. My favorites are Milk It and Very Ape. But I love all of In Utero.

    And Kurt’s performance of Where Did You Sleep Last Night for Unplugged is powerful, moving, and perfect.

  7. Thanks for bringing back some memories for me. RIP Kurt.

  8. HoneyBrown1976 says:

    Loved them!!

    My fave is “Heart-Shaped Box”. While I loved them, I was more of a Pearl Jam girl.

  9. I loved Nirvana very much also. Lithium is still amazing in its rawness and a big fave of mine, I also really like Polly and of course, I always get a huge smile on my face everytime I hear (or even better, see the video of) Smells Like Teen Spirit. Boy, I miss those days. RIP Kurt – & I’m so glad Francis Bean resembles you instead of Courtney.

  10. BELLA!!! Oh…Em…Gee. I looooooooooved Nirvana. No, I take that back, I still love Nirvana. As a matter of fact, I was sitting in a cafe the other night for their weekly “Open Mic Night” and the host was singing “Come As You Are.” Someone was talking to me and I had to shut them up so I could hear the song. It took everything in my power not to bum rush the stage to join in because he was missing that harmony.

    Kurt Cobain left an indelible mark on the face of music. Many have tried, but few have managed to come close to his genius!

    RIP…

  11. My favorite Nirvana song is “Drain You”. I think a lot of the songs on “In Utero” were overlooked–”Pennyroyal Tea” and ‘Rape Me” are classics IMHO.

  12. I love them. I found them in 9th grade. Their music is awesome.

  13. CookieCutterDream says:

    I’m so happy that there are other African-American women, like myself, who love Nirvana. I know that sounds ignorant, but back in the day (and even now), I had a lot of Black people fussing about me loving Nirvana. A friend I had at an HBCU school I attended, (and who also liked them) told me to listen to it on the radio, but not to buy the album or risk being labeled “not black enough.”

    Glad things are changing. But, my favorite songs are “In Bloom” and “Come As You Are”. Thank God for I-Pods. Had to pull out mine and play this album, just to listen to it all over again. Good thing about Nirvana is that their music never ages — notice that?

  14. hahah i was just in Aberdeen, yesterday, unfortunately!!!! it is now fondly referred to as scaberdeen. yeah i like Nirvana, so does my husband!! i like the general sound that came out of the pacific northwest at the time, so much better then that screechy east coast and Hollywood “rock”!!! It is totally the weather!!! it can be so soul sucking at times!!!

  15. I dug Nirvana & Soundgarden.
    His death was crazy – akin to Biggie and Tupac just a different genre.

  16. “Smells like teen spirit” !!!!!

    Glad to know other sisters were in to Nirvana. RIP Kurt, and Happy belated birthday.

  17. Kurt was a genius. My favorite song is “Come as You are.” I wish Mary J Blige would cover that song.

  18. I am now 14 and discovered Nirvana about six months ago. Now they are my fAvorite band of all time. I am so upset that Kurt Cobain is dead and I never even got to see a concert. What I would give to see just one concert! My favorite Nirvana song is Negative Creep. I also like Serve the Servants, swap meet, the man who sold the world and You Know Your Right. I love the album Bleach the most. R.I.P Kurt. Wow now I am really sad.

  19. http://old.thesixtyone.com/#/paintingtasters/album/Nirvana+Country+Sessions+I/22385/

    Happy Birthday Curt. Thanks for the tribute album Ken Gordon aka Paintingtasters

  20. So happy to see a sistah sharing her love for alternative/rock&roll music!! Back in the day, I won’t say, how far back in the day, but let’s just say, when Nirvana hit the scene I was an adult and I no longer had to hide the fact that I liked rock & roll music. No longer in the closet. Free at last! When I first heard, Smells Like Teen Spirit, I was hooked on the song and the band, and knew they would be around for a while. At least, that’s what we all thouhgt anyway. At the time we were somewhat
    oblivious to Kurt’s mental issues. Although, his music kind of clued us into his thoughts and feelings. Nirvana’s music will live on for years to come. Happy Birthday & R.I.P. Kurt. To whom it may concern at Afrobella, a shoutout to you for sharing your rock side. Thanks my sistah!!!

  21. I know exactly what you mean as it relates to growing up in the Caribbean and being the odd one out as it relates to what you like artistically. Kurt Cobain, although I just started listening to Nirvana about ten years ago, was one such person I connected with. His life and music mean so much to me, even to today. It’s hard to identify a top 5 as you have, but my fave album of theirs is ‘In Utero.’ It blows my mind every time I listen. Thanx for a great post :)

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