Thursday, September 29, 2022

Nirvana, In Utero (1993)

This album is awesome. I like it even better than '91's Nevermind.

I'm not sure I buy the narrative that Cobain was a secular saint whose passing represented a martyrdom, though that was surely how it was spun at the time, just as Tupac's murder was taken as a martyrdom for hip-hop (though if I'm to be honest, whereas I'm skeptical about the former claim, I sort of buy the latter, however much that is probably just spin too).

That said, I do think that Nirvana's stripped-down musical aesthetic was probably the last one that seriously wrestled with the issue of "authenticity" in the world of popular music.

For instance, I do believe the band was angry about the success of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," which was supposed to be an ironic sendup of high-school stupidity. And I do believe they doubted whether or not they could make good music when signed to Geffen, when receiving all that attention, when having a majority audience that they just didn't like.

Being a late millennial, coming in on the cusp of this decline of Gen-X worry about selling out, our generation never took these concerns about authenticity too seriously. At least I don't think so. Am I wrong?

Sure, none of us ever became rock stars, but I do recall the general issue of authentic existence being in the air as a hangover from Generation X. I remember being a middle-schooler and hearing all the talk and I foolishly thought I had to take a stand on it. I remember giving lip-service to the idea of being "real" or "authentic," but I don't think I ever knew what that would mean. At some point, I think I got old enough to stop caring. That doesn't mean I chose an "inauthentic" existence so much as that I came to the realization that this preoccupation with self was part of the problem.

Not that I've given too much thought, but it seems to me that if authenticity means anything it has to do with not being so hung up on oneself, learning to get over oneself. Sure, follow the rules as best one can, and try not to follow bad rules, but most importantly do good work and love people.

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