Monday, 17 March 2008

Lyrics & their meaning Part 8 - Smells like teen spirit

Part 8 of a 19 part series If your lucky!

Smells Like Teen Spirit (1990) Nirvana
Nirvana’s impact on the youth of the early nineties is comparable to the Beatles of the mid sixties. Its just that kids in the 90’s didn’t express their emotions as extremely as their Mum’s & Dads (or should that be their Grandparents).
As analogies goes these two bands lend a strong argument that song lyrics contribute nothing in the grand scheme of things. In the end it boils down to the music wether it be energy or attitude and how the singers express themselves.
Do you really believe ‘She loves you yeah, yeah, yeah’ was responsible for the way the sixties were shaped. Just as “ A mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido, yah” was instrumental in getting Generation X’s to dress up in baggy clothes and get all moody and mumble a lot.
Smells Like Teen Spirit propelled Nirvana to mega-star status in 1991 when it was the first single released from the Nevermind album. It was released at a pivotal moment that seemed right for the youth of the time and joined the ‘Circle of Life’.
The periodical renewal that seems to breathe new life into popular music that bought us Rock ‘N’ Roll itself, as well as the British invasion, Punk as well as Disco, Heavy Rock and the New Romantics.
Songwriter Kurt Cobain never wanted to change the world and definitely didn’t want to be a spokesperson for his generation.
But much to his dismay that did become the case and the pressure of this attention drove him to suicide. And in a strange twist to these events, the fans rather than start wondering if he was really dead started pointing the finger on who really did it.
Smells like Teen Spirit (named after a deodorant marketed at a youth audience) despite its anthemic title means nothing, Cobain’ s lyrics were typically random and using his unique voice he would make throwaway lines come alive by growling one minute and whispering the next. Late in 1992 Cobain has been put on record as saying:
‘At the time I wrote those songs, I really didn’t know what I was trying to say.
There’s no point in my even trying to analyse or explain it’
Jonathan Poneman Co-Owner of Sub-Pop the bands old record label added:
‘Nirvana are incredibly misinterpreted. Nobody is listening to what the band has to say. The songs subject matter and lyrics are meaningless. What’s meaningful is that they’re connecting with people, and saying, you make the decision what are we going to do now?’
Probably the most heartening thing to take from all this is the fact that the fans have all seemed to take heed of this advice and unlike their 60’s & 70’s counterparts don’t look for things that don’t exist.
In a case of actions speak louder than words, the ‘Seattle Sound’ or ‘Grunge’ as the music that Nirvana spearheaded was known, influenced much of the nineties.
In fashions; the dressing down from the ‘Greed is Good’ eighties. In music the re-emergence of guitar based rock. But it also had its down side with spectre of heroin making a big comeback. Coburn himself a victim of that scourge.
Coburn said his lyrics were meaningless, it’s sad he followed a life style which followed the same philosophy.

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