Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Smells Like Jann Wenner



The list of nominees for the 2014 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has been released. I was wondering if it is at all possible to have a discussion about one thing. We don't need to talk about the hall itself, its merits if any, or what level of bullshit the hall may represent. Every year the debates are the same. Some care, some don't and many continue to argue what is or is not "rock and roll." We don't need to go there.

I want to talk about Nirvana specifically.

One friend described their chances of getting in as a "slam dunk."

I'm not so sure they belong, at least not until The Move, Todd Rundgren and XTC get in. But I digress.

It's true, I don't love Nirvana or think Kurt Cobain was a genius, though I do really like their three records.

Three records.

When I mentioned to another friend that Cobain didn't live long enough to prove where he can go musically, he responded with "Then maybe Jimi Hendrix shouldn't be in the RNRHOF."

I'd really like to know what you think. You can say it in one word or one hundred words.













31 comments:

Anonymous said...

If quantity of output were a requirement...........

The list is endless

Nirvana should be a slam-dunk for the simple reason that they CHANGED everything at the time.
They didn't invent it, they didn't perfect it they were IT.

Cheers
Obey Gravity

Sal Nunziato said...

"If quantity of output were a requirement..........."

Very true, O.G. I shouldn't have driven that point home. But I wouldn't be so far off base if I said, it was really only one record.

kevin m said...

One record much like the Sex Pistols.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Yes.

Anonymous said...

I'm not at all convinced the change we ascribe to Nirvana was necessarily a change for the better.

Shriner said...

Agree with Kevin: One record is sometimes all it takes (re: Sex Pistols).

Like it or not, they defined a music era/genre. That's enough to get them in. Certainly, their recorded output is no less than Guns N Roses or Buffalo Springfield and they were at least as influential as those two bands.

(That said, I'm hoping this is the year KISS gets in, though. That would be funny to see KISS, The Replacements and Nirvana the same year...)

Jeff in Denton TX said...

I have no doubt that Nirvana deserve induction. They are not my favorite band of the era, but they are the most influential and the music has held up well over the past two decades.
The problem of overlooked older acts is gradually being remedied as fewer of the newly-eligible performers each year are worthy of consideration. Nirvana is the only first-year eligible nominee this year (the next "youngest", The Replacements, have been eligible since 2006). This trend will likely continue. I'd love to see The Move, XTC, and (especially) Todd Rundgren inducted, although I think ELO has a better shot than The Move due to their success in the US (and The Move's almost total lack thereof). The Hall also has a weird policy that an individual's cumulative contributions can't be combined, so Todd the solo performer, Todd the producer, The Nazz, and Utopia would all have to be considered as separate ballot entries. This makes little sense.
To be honest, among this year's nominees (http://www.futurerocklegends.com/2014_Nominees.php), the only one to which I'd object would be The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. I can see putting in Mike Bloomfield as a sideman, but that's about it.

jeff k said...

Satchel Paige

Sal Nunziato said...

All very fine points, indeed.

Noam Sane said...

Sure. They rocked. Unlike, say, Madonna. Who got in on the first ballot.

cmealha said...

I, like you am not a huge fan, but I do believe they merit inclusion for the impact they made.

Gene Oberto said...

If output is not a factor, then Nirvana would get in with the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video alone. If there was anything that would keep out Nirvana it would be their leader introducing Courtney Love to the popular culture.

As much as I liked the band, my two sons, who were in their teens, played them incessantly. Kurt's suicide affected them both immensely at the time. And unlike Nirvana, who reflected a segment of teen age angst, Jimi has really only influenced music and its players for all these years.

mpjedi2 said...

Honestly, I find Nirvana overrated, but I also fully acknowledge that my opinion does not reflect the majority of the world at large.

At the risk of sounding ghoulish (please forgive), Cobain's death cemented their status, and further releases probably would've been diminishing returns, in terms of sales and the unwavering adulation. Kurt seemed so hell-bent to be non-commercial I think he might've completely alienated the public, eventually. I remember the initial reactions to IN UTERO, prior to Cobain's suicide, and the way those reactions morphed afterward.

That being said, yes they should be in, for the reasons that have already been put forth. You can't deny the impact, you simply can't.

Honestly, I think Grohl is going to prove to be a much more important musical figure, long term, than Cobain.

soundsource said...

well I'm still thinking and I'll add something to the discussion if I can come up with anything worth adding but more importantly I loved you tag "Smells like Jann etc. very funny

Anonymous said...

Hello all...no, please remain seated,

Thoughtful comments by all. By far, most of the music I liked in the 90's (Pearl Jam, Counting Crows, Alice in Chains, many others)seems to have come in through the door, if not opened then opened more widely, by Nirvana.

I've pretty well establshed in previous posts that my musical knowledge is not perhaps as deep as most of my fellow respondees but, from my vantage point? A white marble goes in the jar.

regards,

RichD

peabody nobis said...

The Hendrix comparison is laughable, I mean side-splittingly hilarious. Cobain was good, but he was no Hendrix. Jedi2 dude above is right: Dave Grohl will have a more lasting legacy than Cobain, simply for his longevity.
And there should really be a Pop music HOF. Hall and Oates don't really fit into the "Rock" category, but if Madonna's in there, they should have been charter members.

steves said...

mpjedi2: "Honestly, I think Grohl is going to prove to be a much more important musical figure, long term, than Cobain."

I think that's more from a musician's/musical-output POV. But he lacks Cobain's cult following.

Bombshelter Slim said...

I must be getting old, I mean, who CARES about yet another popularity contest at the intersection of Commercial St. & Artistic Blvd.??? And why aren't Bunky & Jake in the RRHOF?

Chris Collins said...

I actually find the Hendrix comparison apt. Cobain wasn't the guitarist that Hendrix was, obviously. But was a far better songwriter.

Nirvana was a hugely influential band. One could argue forever about all the bands that they were influenced by and how THOSE bands are more deserving. But Nirvana was the band that hit the mainstream hard and changed the face of popular music. I agree that they're a slam dunk.

mpjedi2 said...

Grohl may lack Cobain's cult, but he's positioned himself, and I feel it's honestly, as a cheerleader and spokesman for rock and roll as a form. I really enjoy the Foo Fighters records (more than Nirvana), but the SXSW keynote address, and the SOUND CITY film...those are statements of purpose and encouragement that ought to be heeded and admired.

Grohl may not have a cult, but he's doing far, far more to promote the music (and not just his own) than Cobain ever did.

Anonymous said...

good one sal - one that deserves thought and the consideration of the artists you mentioned as well as many others whom you did not!

"rooting" for a number of artists (just cuz I like them) doesn't mean they are deserving, just as rooting against an artist/artists (cuz i didn't "get it" or I wasn't a lemming, or I just plain didn't like their shit) is also unfair...

to me, it's not really "nevermind" as much as it is "whatever"......
i could care less if the volume of work was massive or if they were a one-hit wonder (well - maybe i shouldn't go that far), but, the hall represents a popularity contest (and the artists that you did/didn't mention), did NOT give us their "art" for that reason...

gmb

Eric said...

Nirvana was a game changer..and the two times I saw them(when they blew chili peppers off the stage/snl perf of teen spirit)they killed live..look at cobain's playing on SNL..and then listen to the MTV unplugged man who sold the world..he was gifted in the scream and the soft meow as r the greats,,so he blew his brains out, his choice... he was nirvana and he's bo jackson/gayle sayers to grohl's reliable jim thome... like jimi, like neil young(i dig singer/guitarists) they don't make cobains that often,,, now if u combined layne stanley with jerry cantrell....

Eric said...

furthermore, as i get older the difference between longevity and relevance in any form of show biz is more appreciated..it's fuckin hard to be relevant in life, let alone on stage, the big screen or on the athletic field

Gene Oberto said...

Yesterday I wrote about how big an influence Nirvana was to both my sons. Today, I got this e-mail which I'd like to share. It's from my son, Matt.

"I read your buddy Sal's blog about Nirvana. You spoke about how big of an influence it was on Devin and I. A couple points of why Nirvana was important for Rock and Roll that I would like to speak about. Think about the time Nirvana started playing on MTV and remember the music choices that people had in mainstream. The metal scene was still big with Guns N' Roses and Metallica's Black album and Rap was moving from Fresh Prince to NWA and 2 Live Crew. For Devin and I (even through I can't speak for Devin) we never really got into the 80's/90's metal scene. We didn't grow out our hair and we never owned a leather jacket. So we started moving more towards rap as our outlet for rebellion (remember how pissed you use to get when we listened to the gangsta shit). So along comes three guys from Seattle and they play something fast, loud, and pretty hip. They didn't look like metal heads and they wore t-shirts and jeans which looked like us (granted the flannel thing was something we did pick up). For the first time that I remember we had musicians looking like their audience.

Now look at the journey that one band has led both your sons on. Devin is a person with a huge range in sound that he listens to because of the music that Nirvana played. I on the other hand went a different route and got into music that was specific and the foundation that Nirvana came from (plus my love for Ska started because of Nirvana). I know the Hall of Fame for the music scene is a joke but sometimes I feel that people have forgotten how much that band changed our generation. I do remember seeing the excitement from you when you saw Devin and I really begin our journey into music."

Sal Nunziato said...

Thanks for sharing that Geno.

Too often I focus on nothing but the music. Just the music. The sound of the guitars and vocals, hooks and melodies, how good the drummer is or isn't, etc. All else, for better or worse, comes in second.

As I said in the post itself, I like Nirvana. I still don't believe Kurt Cobain was a genius. And their output...musically...falls short for me.

But I've been convinced, by all the words here. I get it.

ge said...

Bunky & Jake! NOW YER TALKIN'!
'Just an old fashion motor car--O what a dream....'
Now Kurt born the same day of Feb as me and DavidFosterWallace one day after! Us tragic Pisces* oft can use suicide as a springboard to cult status--posthumous heelclicking, wheeee

*
Kerouac admitted to slow suicide by booze

big bad wolf said...

Not only do i think Nirvana belongs. for all of the reasons given 9and because in utero is a shattering record of falling apart) but i think courtney love should be in the RRHOF. there is a lot to hate on about courtney's personal life and idiocies, and i have done my share of that. there's also a large amount of really good rock on those hole records, a lot of intensity, and a surprising amount of insight.

Anonymous said...

Only if we can get Madonna to be the Inductor

Dave said...

"he was nirvana and he's bo jackson/gayle sayers to grohl's reliable jim thome... like jimi, like neil young(i dig singer/guitarists) they don't make cobains that often..."

Eric said it better than I could. My sympathies are more with the journeymen than the flameouts, but what separates Nirvana from the Foo Fighters is Cobain's songwriting. I'm having a hard time thinking of specific songs of the FF -- no such problem with Nirvana.

Don't get me started about Hall & Oates. I would love to hear the arguments against their induction.


Sal Nunziato said...

"Don't get me started about Hall & Oates. I would love to hear the arguments against their induction."

I'm confused, Dave. You'd love to hear the arguments against because you're all for H&O's induction?

billy budapest said...

I don't think that Nirvana should be inducted before The Pixies. Without the Pixies, there'd have been no Nirvana - or at least a seriously under-inspired one - and the whole notion of "alternative rock" may not have been as energized. I fear that The Pixies' exclusion could join others, such as The Move or Rundgren or the seriously under-regarded Ian Hunter, that get less urgent as time goes by. That would be a tragedy.