Even with Bruce Springsteen’s birthday yesterday, it would be a disservice to write about anything other than Nirvana’s iconic album Nevermind, which came out today in 1991. As a kid, I remember rifling through my dad’s CD collection, seeing the swimming naked baby. I was too young to listen to or appreciate the music, but I definitely felt entitled enough to ask a million and one questions about why a baby was allowed to go swimming without floaties. If anything, I thought it was a kids album.
While Nevermind wasn’t released with high expectations, the album debuted on the Billboard 200 at 144 and ended up making its way to the top slot. For weeks after its debut, the album was sold out and unavailable. “Smells Like Teen Sprit” and “Come as You Are” were plastered on MTV and every outlet available. They constantly dominate radio stations and are still making appearances in TV and movies.
Nevermind has an inescapable lasting power – anyone who appreciates music has to have some level of appreciation for this album. It shows up on Best Album Ever lists all over the place. While I was never one for grunge and punk, its legacy and revolutionary sound is independent of the genre.
But as we all know, Kurt Cobain wasn’t meant or prepared for the fame that Nevermind brought. Three short years later he committed suicide. But even in the six short years that Nirvana was together, they prescribed a meaning, voice and purpose to alternative rock music that is still omnipresent and influential today.