Yesterday I mentioned that my birthday is also the date of release for The Beatles' Abbey Road. Sheila O'Malley points out that just a couple of days earlier is the date of release of Nirvana's Nevermind, the seminal album from 1991 that changed the landscape of rock music for good.
Here's the thing: I never liked Nirvana. I didn't hate Nirvana, mind you. But Nirvana made absolutely zero impact on me, one way or the other. It was the strangest thing: a cultural touchstone that slid right past me, and to this day, it remains a touchstone that remains outside my own experience. I eventually came to the Beatles, but I'm not sure that I'll ever come to Nirvana.
Part of it was the timing: I was in college, which you might think would make me more attuned to this kind of thing at the time, but I was studying music at the time, and my musical passions were almost entirely focused on classical music. At the time I hadn't started exploring Celtic music, and I'd stopped listening to rock almost entirely. I was totally unaware of that Nirvana was, what they represented in terms of the evolution of rock music, how they represented a break from what had gone before...all of it. Nirvana was, for me, a band with an album. Same as any other band with an album.
Part of this, though, was something else, something that I've been mulling over for a while. I've come to realize over the last few years that one of my personal idiosyncrasies is that I just don't tend to explore movements in popular culture as they're happening. Books come out that are viewed almost immediately as deeply important, no matter the genre, and I just file them away for future reference. Ditto movies, and music, and even teevee shows. Highly-regarded fantasy novels come out, and it takes me years to get around to reading them (The Lies of Locke Lamora, The Name of the Wind). I like Stephen King, but of his last dozen or so novels, I've only read Lisey's Story (post forthcoming), and I've never read any of his Dark Tower books. I yield to no one in my love of Star Wars...and yet I haven't read a single "Extended Universe" novel in fifteen years.
Music? I couldn't even tell you what I've missed. At work, a couple friends and I like to play with Internet trivia quizzes when we're on lunch break. Sometimes we do music quizzes -- "Identify the song clip" and that sort of thing -- and when we do, I'm generally useless for answers once we get to music past, say, 1990. Oddly, I'm more well-versed now in pop music than I've been in years, mainly through osmosis from what The Daughter listens to.
Teevee is the same way. I've yet to watch a single episode of The Wire, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, or even The Sopranos. And I'm not sure I ever will, because at this point I'm not sure my interests will ever take me there. And that's what it's all about, really -- the fact that I tend to follow my interests with little or no regard for what the "cultural movements" are. This isn't to say that I deliberately avoid what's popular; I know people who do that, and I think it's silly -- I tend to see a lot of validity in the "fifty million Elvis fans can't be wrong" argument -- but when I note things that are popular, my reaction tends to be, "Huh. File that away for future reference."
Anyway, happy anniversary, Nirvana and Nevermind.