6th December 2020
On 8th April, 1994, the body of Kirk Cobain, singer and guitarist of the band Nirvana, was found at his Seattle home. He died from a gunshot wound to the head.
The pop-culture space-race that had been going on between Britain and The States since the Fifties was now firmly in the American orbit, as the amount of small bands who spent limited money on equipment, not designer clothes, seemed to reach stratospheric heights.
Britain’s alternative scene has seen Indie Pop branch out into the tiny Grebo movement, a kind of home-grown pre-Grunge which combined music and humour in equal doses, before people smartened up and went dancing with the aid of little smiley tabs.
There was a definite vacuum that needed filling, and the music, attitudes and fashions of Grunge, of Slacker, of Generation X seemed tailor-made, and all that tailor need provide were flashy baseball caps, checked shirts and jeans with a rip or two.
It was the three chords of punk, with the freedom to add a fourth or fifth and, hey, guitar solos can be cool, providing they’re shit hot. The lyrics were personal and poetic. And a reaction, the reaction that a lot of people felt, shaking their heads and wondering,’ What the fuck happened in the Eighties ?’ a realization that no catchy slogans were going to change society, and anyway, no point picking on individual countries, they were merging into bland, soulless, multinational corporations, whose twin gods were uniformity and profit. And the ones blackballed from the club were in the black hole of poverty and disease.
There were new causes, arguments that seemed irrefutable; the need to protect our water, our land, our air, yet the corporations found ways to argue and stall and ignore and undermine.
It was the last decade of the most remarkably innovative century in the history of this planet, and a fitting time for reflection and criticism. A century when civilized nations embarked on unspeakable, unimaginable, incomprehensible barbarity, and all that came out of that was the slogan, ‘Never Again’, but by the early 90’s it already had, and as the decade wore on, it happened elsewhere, it happened again, and then later, it happened again and then, elsewhere … it happened again.
In his suicide note, Kurt Cobain referred to himself as a ‘experienced simpleton’. He hadn’t found what he needed in the music business and didn’t want to go on pretending, but other people, on the outside, across the nation, across the ocean, were happy to keep looking.
It may have been the end of Grunge Rock, but the Slacker movement and lifestyle just got bigger and bigger.