My dad and I were sitting in the den watching MTV and Enter Sandman by Metallica came on. He exclaimed, "I love his song... and this video is great." I didn't expect my dad to be into a Metallica song and I was trying to take that in when he continued, "... and there's this other video I love, a band from Seattle." "Soundgarden?" I asked. "No." He had seen a special on the Seattle scene and although Soundgarden was featured, he told me about this other band that he thought was going to be huge. Then, like clockwork, Smells Like Teen Spirit came on.
Soon after, I went up to Middle Earth records, where I used to buy all my punk and hardcore cassettes back in the day. As it turned out, the record had been released a few days earlier and they were already sold out of it. So that weekend I took a trip to the mall to hit Sam Goody. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough money to afford it. $17.99 for a cd in 1991 seemed excessive... so I convinced my friend Nick to buy it.
We made the trip back home with our friend Tom and I was more than a little bit anxious to throw that cd in when we got back to his house. But when we got home, he said he told our friend Taylor we would stop by. This was killing me inside. But today, I was following that disc wherever it was going. So we (or as Taylor so aptly put it, every tom, nick and owen) went to Taylor's house and it took me a total of about 3 seconds to ask her if she had a cd player. "Yes, in my room, but my little brother is in there playing Sega genesis" Before she could say anything else, I was playing Bonk's adventure with Wesley blasting Teen Spirit. Then In Bloom blew my mind. These guys were like a heavier version of The Beatles. As Come As You Are segued into Breed, I remember thinking that friends of mine that are into Depeche Mode are gonna like this, people into Pink Floyd will like this, metalheads will like this, punks will like this. This was an album with no boundaries. Lithium started and I knew I had a new favorite song. That's when Nick popped in and declared how much he liked it. "Yeah," I replied, "each song is better than the last. It's unbelievable" And that trend continued through Polly, Territorial Pissings and Drain You. Three songs completely different sonically, but also painting a cohesive picture bringing me everywhere I needed to go. Lounge Act. Okay, NOW I've officially got a new favorite song. Still, my favorite 2:37 seconds ever put to tape. From there, the perfect ending. Stay Away and On a Plain, two power pop masterpieces, sounding as if The Smithereens were really pissed off about something. Krist and Dave really shine on those two, and after stripping it back down to Kurt's impeccable songwriting for Something in the Way, I was left utterly speechless.
That day probably meant very little to Nick, Tom and Taylor, but it was one of the most important days of my life. 20 years later, I am a much different person than I was before that day. Music suddenly became my whole life. A friend once told me that I'm really hard to please, except when it comes to music. To me, that couldn't be further from the truth. I think the main reason I seek out so many bands and listen to so much music is because I am hard to please. I've continued searching for the feeling that record gave me the first time I heard it, and while I've discovered some amazing bands who put out great albums, It has never come even close to the euphoria I felt that September day.
So thank you Nick Apicella for buying the cd, thank you Tom Randberg for getting your mom to pick us up from the mall, thank you Taylor Scarborough for letting me use your stereo, thank you Wesley for letting me play Bonk with you, thank you Dad for being a rocker for life, and most importantly, thank you Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl for Nevermind.