Seen today on Twitter.
After “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hit the radio in the fall of 1991, I vividly remember the first time I heard it.
It came on the radio while I was sitting in the car, parked outside Osco Drug and the old Port Plaza Mall in downtown Green Bay.
My immediate reaction, for better or worse: “What the f*ck is this?”
It was the first time that I felt disconnected from what was on the radio. I was no kid anymore, but I wasn’t middle-aged, either. I was 34, just 10 years old than Kurt Cobain.
It was a time during which everything I loved about music seemed to be unraveling.
The radio, my close friend for more than 20 years, no longer spoke to me.
MTV, a joy to watch just 10 years earlier, was evolving into just another conventionally programmed TV channel.
Vinyl records were going away, replaced by CDs. I was going along with it, buying CDs.
This epic disruption in the force is evident by the massive gap in my record collection.
The last vinyl record I — or perhaps we — bought before The Great Disconnection was the Smithereens’ “11,” which came out in October 1989. I didn’t buy another new vinyl record for 18 years, until I picked up Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings’ “100 Days, 100 Nights,” which came out in October 2007. We’d seen her earlier that year while visiting New York.
I think back to the time of The Great Disconnection, probably sometime in the early ’00s. I remember the sparks from the flint, trying to rekindle a once-roaring fire.
One day, I walked through Amazing Records, a used record store here in Green Bay. How much fun all this once was, I thought. It doesn’t seem that it will ever be that great again, I thought. I didn’t buy anything.
One day, I went to a record show in a college gym. I looked at a lot of records, but felt much the same emptiness. At the end of the day, I bought a record to replace one of the records that went out in The Great Vinyl Purge of 1989. CDs were the future in 1989, so I got rid of dozens of records at a friend’s garage sale. “Hey, there are a lot of good records in here,” one garage sale shopper said. Yes, there were.
But that day at the college gym was a new day. I bought a replacement copy of Bob and Doug McKenzie’s “Great White North.”
In 2006, I discovered music blogs, as did the mainstream media. A story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tipped me to the first few “audioblogs” I followed. Record diggers ran some of those blogs.
A year later, in 2007, I followed their lead. I started this blog and I started record digging. It’s been great to have it all back.
It’s nice to be past The Great Disconnection ushered in by “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” That time was indeed a …
“Blue Period,” the Smithereens, from “11,” 1989. The last new vinyl record I — or perhaps we — bought for 18 years.
3 responses to “It was anything but nirvana”
Was never much of a Nirvana fan, but I loved The Smithereens. Such a great rock band, terrific songs. I never understood why they didn’t have better success. RIP Pat DiNizio.
Thanks for this, Jeff! You’re not alone – I hated anything grunge when it came out, even though my first husby played it a lot. It wasn’t until Pearl Jam’s “Vs.” came out in early ‘94 that I enjoyed any of it. I hated jumping on bandwagons so I bucked it for as long as I could. I was deep into my Tull period at that point – about as far away from grunge as you could get. And I was a month shy of my 23rd birthday in September of ‘91. 😃
I was also in my mid-30s when I began to feel not of the current music scene (around 1999). I’d given up trying to keep track of pop long before, but even the non-grungy alternative world I’d enjoyed throughout the 90s was starting to slip away. To have that sort of experience coincide with the first extinction of vinyl, well, I feel for you.
As noted, I wasn’t much of a grunge fan, though I suppose I liked bits and pieces. But I must confess that “Smells Like Teen Spirit” felt like the new “Satisfaction” to me when I started hearing it that fall (don’t hate me for saying that!).
I have much of the vinyl I re-purchased on CD, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t try to stick it all in a garage sale once.