Mid-1990s music musings…

…or, My problem with grunge, right here (emphasis mine — ed.):

…to say grunge was more “authentic” or “culturally relevant” is crap. It was just as much about fashion and image as “hair-metal” had been: it was just a different fashion and image. I never had a beef with grunge itself, just the way it was hyped up at the expense of pretty much everything that had come before in the preceding ten years or so (remember all that “decade of credibility” BS trumpeted by the MTV/Rolling Stone/Spin crowd? Chris Cornell insisting that Soundgarden “were not influenced by heavy metal in any way, shape or form?”) A ton of great music was released in the years ’87-’91-ish, but all anybody remembers are the cheesy video like “Cherry Pie” or “Seventeen.”

That was exactly the problem I had with the whole grunge/alternative movement. Some years back in a discussion I recall someone credited the grunge movement for killing glam metal. I remember thinking, “Yeah, I suppose it did, but the flip side of that is that it made people forget about the other subgenres of metal, too.” To go back to the old cliche, they threw the baby out with the bath water. I appreciate Nirvana a lot more than I used to, and I did start liking Soundgarden a lot when I started exploring other genres besides country. (Steeeeil can’t stand the Red Hot Chili Peppers, though.) However, what seemed to be the discounting of the entire 1980s metal scene really pissed me off — and still does, more so now than it used to because of all the great music from that period that I’ve just recently discovered. I said before that I got a kick out of whoever edited the Wikipedia page for grunge saying that “glam metal…fell out of favor in the face of music that was authentic and culturally relevant.” Talk about ignorant. There was a lot of authentic music getting made in the 1980s. It just wasn’t getting played as much as the glam metal. And what were “2 Minutes to Midnight” and “Fight Fire With Fire” if not culturally relevant?

Or perhaps the word I’m looking for is “timely” — but either way, so what? I think cultural relevance is all relative and thus entirely too subjective to be of use to determine the worth of a piece of music anyway. Yeah, I know it was Wikipedia; but I am certain there are more than a few of that generation who would read that and think, “Yeah, exactly!”

You can debate the whole “cultural relevance” of music all day long, but what gets me is those who gushed about how “meaningful” the grunge & alternative bands’ music was. It might have been, but saying such implies to me that all the music that came along before was just meaningless commercial crap. Such an implication would only be helped along by the discounting of the ’80s heavy metal, and that pisses me off too. I have spoken before about how certain of those bands delved into meatier subjects than getting drunk and laid. That would seem to me to be the furthest thing from meaningless commercial crap — even if, for example, Metallica’s Master of Puppets has sold six million copies.

At any rate, though, I am quite glad that the music survived all of that despite being discounted the way it was in the early ’90s — and that many of those bands are making (wait for it!) relevant and meaningful music today.

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11 Responses to “Mid-1990s music musings…”

  1. BL Says:

    Most grunge bands sang about getting drunk and laid, too…

  2. southtexaspistolero Says:

    Indeed, which just makes those people crediting it with killing the glam metal scene look that much more hypocritical. I love it!

  3. Albatross Says:

    Grunge has always been overrated. Always.

  4. Albatross Says:

    And I disagree with the notion of Kurt Cobain as a musical genius. Being angry and inarticulate doesn’t make one particularly smart or insightful. And the fact that he picked Courtney Love backs up my opnion.

  5. Speakertweaker Says:

    Cobain was a lot of things. Genius was not one of them. He played a mediocre-to-decent guitar when he was on the upside of a dose, but after that everything sounded like a monkey fucking a Telecaster. And those sounds we all heard on Nevermind? He hated all that. Geffen Records spent a ton of money running their crap sounds out of the garage and into a professional studio environment, where the turd was polished into a record that sold a metric fuckton of copies…

    …all to Cobain’s chagrin. He hated every inch of it. He wanted to be a shitty garage band. I guess he had to support his (and her) habits, so he signed a contract and spent a few million of David Geffen’s dollars to make an album he hated. So he kacked himself over it.

    What makes me puke is when people look over Jerry Cantrell, Layne Stayley, Chris Cornell, Mike McCready, et al, and call Cobain the genius. Clearly, Nirvana played to a specific audience of morons. Shame the rest of the big Seattle bands – with all their arrogance or distaste for Ticketmaster – got lumped in behind that.

    tweaker

    • southtexaspistolero Says:

      I suppose I should note that appreciating Nirvana mostly means I don’t turn off the radio in disgust when they come on. 😉 I still don’t think Kurt Cobain’s a musical genius either, exactly because of what you said, Tweaker. After hearing folks like Kirk Hammett, Marty Friedman, Adrian Smith and Chris DeGarmo I really don’t know why anyone would hold Cobain up as an example of a good guitar player. And they should’ve called the album Sounds Like Teen Angst, to be honest. “Here we are now, entertain us”? All righty then.

      But from what I understand Cobain’s “genius” label was largely the doings of the folks at the music rags like Rolling Stone and Spin, and you know those dumb fucks have never had a clue about rock music. “Get in the Ring,” indeed.

      And thanks for the compliment!

      • Albatross Says:

        Adrian Smith

        I’ve always preferred Dave Murray myself, but Adrian’s no slouch. Neither is Janick Gers, even if he did come late to the party.

        😉

    • southtexaspistolero Says:

      Dave & Adrian damn sure make magic when you put ’em together, too. I loved the dual leads they played on “The Duellists” and “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”

    • BL Says:

      MOTHER LOVE BONE were the GOOD SPIRITS of Seattle, at that time.

      They kicked ass live, too!

      Still listen to the album on occasion.
      Your mileage may vary…

      Grung, adj., Origin-Seattle, generally refers to bands that can’t play.

      Special exception on grunge for Todd Snider, of course…

      BUT, he’s not REALLY from Seattle. 😉

      • BL Says:

        BTW–March 19, 1990, Andrew Wood. R.I.P.

        If they hadn’t have imploded they would maybe have been bigger than Guns and Roses.

        They were playing the same scene and pretty equally liked and equally talented. I don’t recall thinking of them as “grunge” one bit.

  6. Speakertweaker Says:

    Oh, shit! I forgot to mention: very nice post.

    tweaker

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