In the nineties, the Seattle live music scene became the epicentre of the grunge movement, a groundbreaking style and approach to music and life in general. It was a mix of punk, rock and heavy metal, played by musicians forming bands with remarkable membership fluidity. Grunge bands dressed informally, as opposed to the over-the-top hair heavy metal fashion of the time. They had a rebel attitude towards society, and their music was harsh, direct, punchy and loud.
Nirvana is, by all means, the best example of how grunge can be energetic, poetic and musically striking, all at the same time. The band, formed by Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl reached the apex of success with the two masterpieces Nevermind and In Utero.
The Price of Success
Kurt Cobain once said: “I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not.” Success was more collateral damage than the desired goal. At the same time, being at the top of the charts, chased by journalists and constantly under the spotlight is something that a band has to deal with, and it’s not easy at all.
In Nirvana’s case, it was a matter of finding a delicate balance between the music industry, public exposure and their artistic needs. As we read here, it took some time for them to adjust to stardom status.
Kurt Cobain’s Poetry
Cobain’s writing style can be blunt or unexpectedly intimate, all within the same song. Often his lyrics begin with a soft and understated mood and then suddenly move to an explosive chorus.
In some compositions, he used the cut-up technique. After writing the lyrics, the text is cut into many parts and words. Then, these parts are put back together in random order. This creates an unsettling and cryptic feeling but somehow keeps communicating the message.