Smells Like Getting Old

By February 23, 2010Life of Dave

There is a defining feature we have as human beings.  We will get old.  You’re getting older. I’m getting older. Just sitting here, reading this blog – we’re getting older.  To be honest, I don’t feel old.  I can tell you when I will though.  I can tell you the exact date in fact – September 24, 2011.
No, it’s not the dreaded 40 mark.  Not any birthday, or date of any real significance actually.  But on the 24th day of September 2011, I will unequivocally, irreversibly and officially be old.  Why?  Because this day my friends, marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind.
To this day, I can remember the first time I heard ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ on the radio.  It was the JJJ breakfast show with Mikey Robbins and Helen Razor (yes, that long ago!).  My first reaction was along the lines of – What.  Was.  That.  Helen was trying to figure out the last lines Kurt was screeching (‘a denial, a denial…’).  I was trying to figure out how I could hear that song again – as soon as humanly possible.
The song and album came along at the exact right moment for me.  I was beginning to challenge ideas, extricating myself from the childish influence of my parents and forging my own identity.  Nevermind catapulted that idea into the stratosphere.  New Dave was born on that day.
I was one of the very few lucky bastards to see these guys play live.  It was early 1992 at the now defunct Palace Theatre in St Kilda.  The support was the sadly neglected Meanies (anyone remember them?).  Nirvana lived up to my expectations – and then blew them out of the water.   The raw guttural power of Kurt, Dave and Krist would not be restrained by four shoddy concrete walls.  Their brilliance far outstripped the sum of their musical parts.
In some ways, 20 years ago seem like, well, 20 years ago.  A lot has happened in those intervening years.  I’ve changed a lot since that young kid staring at the radio in his bedroom hurriedly twisting the radio dial in the fruitless hope that a commercial station were playing Nirvana (it would take many months before they would).  That Dave had less confidence in himself.  He was too eager to please.  Reluctant to share an opinion.  Oh how times have changed, hey blog reader?!  In many ways I don’t think I’d like to meet that Dave, he’d be undercooked.  Not yet whole.  Nevermind helped leave that Dave behind forever.
I’ve played that album, at a guess, several hundred times.  Sure, there are albums that are perhaps technically better – Radiohead, Jeff Buckley or Las Ketchup for example, but none have had the profound effect that this one little album had.  Overnight big hair bands like Poison and Warrant became passé.  And everyone stopped using the word passé.  Instantaneously, garage bands formed, disbanded and reformed without the arsehole lead singer.  I won’t even subject you to my (thankfully brief) journey into banddom.  Let’s just say at the first day rehearsals there were three drummers and a guy with a flute.  Nuff said.
So, this rapidly approaching date – why does it freak me out so much?  It’s only a date that will pass most people by as just another day.  But for me, it’s not just another day.  For me, it’s a date that marks the point at which I have to reach a conclusion – that I’m a sad old bastard.
Oh well, whatever, never mind.

About Dave Sinclair

Dave is a writer, a screenwriter and a really excellent parallel parker. He is the author of The Barista's Guide to Espionage.


  • bruce says:

    Yes, Nevermind definitely was a major moment in music (coincidentally it was about the time this little black duck began his transformation into bogan-dom !!). It changed the culture and allowed bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Faith No More and the whole grunge scene to become 'popular'. There's no doubt that Cobain had some talent. I would also argue that Dave Grohl is just as, if not more, talented. The Fooeys rock !!!I was going to say that my Nevermind album was Greenday's Dookie, however, on further thought it would have to be Metallica's black album, Aug 1991. Man, their music changed me……and not in an entirely good way 🙂 (and yes, I did once own at least a dozen Metallica t-shirts) I've only just recovered……Good blog this week Dave, very thought provoking.

  • Rob says:

    I was wondering if I should mention how I believe Faith No More's place in music history was completely usurped by this band, but I thought I wouldn't.Then I read Bruce's comment, and couldn't pass it up.The Real Thing was released in 1989, Epic was relelased in 1990 and hit Number 1 spot in Australia before Nevermind came out.Not only did FNM survive the 80s hair band thing, they did it while still retaining their diversity and (in some ways more importantly) their keyboard player. (I think it was the fauves who had a song called "everyone is getting a 3 piece together").Interestingly enough FNM never reached the heights with later albums that they got with The Real Thing.I don't mean or want to put down the experience this album had for you, Dave, because I can't deny the life changing affect it had on people. It has always annoys me, though, that people give Nirvana credit for re-introducing heavy rock to the mainstream, when FNM had already hit number 1 with what would now be called an Alternative song.Also, I'm going to see Faith No More tomorrow night, and am as giddy as a schoolgirl about it. No nyar.

  • Fen says:

    I too am a sad old bastard. 20 years? Seems like just the other day!

  • bruce says:

    Rob, you suck….simple as that. :-)Perhaps if FNM had been from Seattle they might have been viewed as pioneers. You also have to admit that their music wasn't the same once Sir Jim Martin (thankyou Bill & Ted) left the band in 94 (thankyou Wikipedia).

  • Rob says:

    It's true. Jim leaving FNM did change them, musically and dynamically. They were definitely less "Heavy Bloody Metal" (to quote Vim from Bad News).But if I concede that, then you have to concede that someone left Nirvana in 94 that kinda changed them too. :-)(Some time has passed, we can laugh about it now)

  • kris says:

    I remember the Meanies.I saw FNM on Monday. It was amazing. Wow. Am still nursing injuries from being crushed by 3000 excited peeps when Patton walked on to the stage in his apricot suit.Can I suggest a theme for the 40th? Some kind of grunge revival night… Sigh. I am feeling old now. Might go blast some Pearl Jam and do the dishes…

  • Brendan says:

    Wow, 20 years is a long time.I never really got into Nirvana, or Faith No More. I think that means that I was old before my time. 🙂

  • Shandy says:

    Holy crap. Feel old.Thanks Dave. Mind you – if in 91 someone said to us there was something definitive released in 71…feel older.Las Ketchup made me spit coffee. They ARE the greatest band ever.Everyone now!Friday night it's party timefeeling ready looking fine,viene diego rumbeando(yes I did have to look that up…..)

  • TheOtherRob says:

    I never really got into Nirvana when I should have, although truth be told I think Dave Grohl had taken the Nirvana sound to places Kurt could not. Nirvana pioneered the loud, quiet loud accoustic assault as shown by Foo Fighters and Buddy Clyro (a seriously underrated band from Scotland). I think FNM had a lot of their thunder stolen by Nirvana and their angst (as shown in ‘the gentle art of making enemies’ with the classic line “happy birthday, fucker”) was under appreciated by a youth just coming to terms with the tempered anxiety of The Cure.
    Nirvana were geniuses but they were not alone (Bush, FNM, Sonic Touth and Smashing Pumpkins amonsgt others). Each deserve to be recognised for the parts they played in shaping the wasted youth of the time.

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