Lithium

“Sunday morning is everyday for all I care.
And I’m not scared.  Light my candles. In a daze cause I’ve found God.

Yeah yeah yeah yeah…..”

From “Lithium” by Nirvana.

Pop culture and rock music seems to be measured by high water tides, be it the Beat Poet movement, the Summer of Love, the Spirit of ’76 or a whole host of other things.  The recessionary environment and bleakness of the late 70’s and early 80’s produced some great music too.  I wonder how the present global economic situation will inspire new expressions of what it truly is to be human?  It is often cited that this recession has brought a new moral awakening as we are more informed of the impact of our consumption on other world regions.

Throughout generations, music has defined movements, has soundtracked events and captured emotions and memories.  Can we imagine a musical history without icons like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Bob Marley or the Sex Pistols?  And whilst the influence of such artists is all around us, they aren’t the ones that defined my generation.  Do we make idols of musicians or do we somehow find a sense of something bigger than us through their art?  Something spiritual?  Something of God? And yet a previous generation often frowned and claimed it was all of the devil – even Cliff Richard!!!  Well maybe there’s some truth in that…

This week I discovered a couple of clips that appeared on one of the few TV programmes that covered the indie music scene of the early ’90’s.  They all came from a single episode of Rapido which I had videoed at the time and had watched umpteen times.  On watching it this week I was amazed at how I could virtually recite the journalistic commentary that accompanied the clips together with much of the band’s own conversations.

The first clip is extraordinary.  Nirvana in the UK literally weeks after the release of “Nevermind” – an album which was scrappy, messy, full of contradictions and which was yet deperately urgent and vital upon it’s release.  I listened to it last night for the first time in years and it sounded like a great commercial rock album.  So much subsequent music has been influenced by it.  How the landscape has changed forever even though Kurt claimed he was just ripping off The Pixies. 

This clip shows a band unaware of just how they were going to rewrite rock and it’s a rare insight into a moment in time when NME and others were getting excited about something that was literally destroying the banality of the early ’90’s music scene.  Nirvana were playing to modest sized crowds many of whom were curious.  I still can’t believe I turned down tickets to see them at Calton Road Studios in Edinburgh in November 1991…

The second clip is from a very young looking Teenage Fanclub discussing the success of “Bandwagonesque”, another album that I still listen to all these years later.  Teenage Fanclub’s music has grown over the years and is still hugely treasured by me.

Last but not least, My Bloody Valentine discuss the seminal “Loveless”.  I just couldn’t get my head around this record in 1991.  Was it genius or did you have to be out of your head on some sort of substance to “get it”?  Eighteen years later I still listen to it regularly and whilst I’ve found many of the songs lurking in the strange soundscape, it still doesn’t sound dated to me.  Despite many pale imitations, nothing sounds quite like it.  Oh and it made me nostalgic and happy to see the late John Peel give his tuppence worth too.  

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2 Responses to “Lithium”


  1. 1 exactscience July 25, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Hey

    I love hearing musicians and especially writers talking about why they do what they do.

    But I do think that a lot of maintaining a strong and important voice is to do with not saying too much. Nirvana released a handful of albums, MBV only released two full length ones.

  2. 2 thestatethatiamin July 25, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Hey S, good to hear from you.

    You’re right – both bands left us a choice selection and yet so much has been written about the output of both bands. It was just kinda nice to hear it in their own words at the time of the records being released without the hidsight of how seminal they would become.

    Peace.

    B.


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