I was both early and late to the whole Nirvana thing. I’d heard of them early on. My friend, Moe, went to an REM concert when Nirvana opened for them and came back raving about them. I didn’t go to concerts, though. That just wasn’t going to happen. And then I moved. And I didn’t really hear about them again until Tim B. came into school ranting about how Kurt Cobain must be some kind of fag, because he’d seen him on TV, wearing a dress.
I went out and bought Nevermind right after that. And it was like a lifeline.
What I’m saying is that I could write a post a sister to this one, because, yes, exactly.
The world is different now. I don’t know if artsy-fartsy kids in rural America still feel as crushingly isolated or if the internet and 500 channels and cell phones and such make the world seem smaller. I kind of hope so. That the 60 miles between you and the city seem easily traversible.
It’s late, and I need to get to bed, but I just want to say that that’s what pisses me off so much about the strain of nostalgia in current country music. I know a certain, “Oh, the past was so great” strain is just in country music all the time, but I mean right now, this music that acts like the past I went through was so quaint and desirable.
But when we were coming up, you saw kids in Metallica t-shirts at Bocephus concerts. We understood that as being the same impulse–that “fuck you, establishment” thing. (And as a side note, maybe that’s why the whole Metallica becoming so lame thing bugs me; it’s like being rescued by fogeys. You’re grateful, but damn it.) I mean, Williams made his career in the 80s on songs about outsiders who didn’t fit in where they were supposed to, but did what they wanted, anyway. His whole career seemed to be about sticking a thumb in the eye of folks who thought that rural life was all good folks behaving in good ways who played by the rules.
In other words, it was a critique of how things were. And if you liked Williams, it was because that critique resonated with you. You, too, thought that there was a level of bullshit going on.
So, when I hear these country artists now, who are my age or a little younger, talking about the 80s and early 90s like they were so great, it just pisses me off. If things were so great, why did we need Williams? Why did we need Guns & Roses? Why did we need Metallica?
I don’t know. It’s like somehow the system we were trying so hard to escape succeeds in perpetuating a version of history in which the driving impulse many of us felt, that so shaped our lives, didn’t exist.
But anyway, the thing about that post I liked is that it reminds me that people take from things a lot of good stuff that the artist didn’t intend and that often runs counter to what the artist intended, that people are resourseful and find ways of getting what they need.