Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Come as you are

This morning I donned my plaid flannel shirt and headed out to the new Nirvana exhibition (entitled Taking Punk To The Masses) at the Experience Music Project in Seattle.

Starting with the history of punk rock in America from the early 80s onwards and moving through the genesis of Nirvana in Aberdeen, Washington to their subsequent world renown, the exhibits include copious oral histories from major players at the time.  Ian MacKay of Minor Threat and Fugazi was an engaging and amusing guide to the ins and outs of alternative and punk culture in the States in the 80s and there was also significant input from the head of SubPop Records (Nirvana's first record label) and, endearingly, their receptionist (as she put it, who sees more of what goes on than the receptionist?!).  Krist Novoselic, Kurt's family and many other people who were on the periphery as Nirvana rose to fame have contributed a huge number of items, from the cardigan Kurt wore throughout 1992 to an In Utero angel stage prop.

I found the whole exhibition fascinating and it sparked many memories, but it was also bizarre seeing a subject so dear to my heart and so essential to my personal development being treated as a museum exhibit.  Wow, guess this means I really am old!  Odd, too, were the Japanese tourists taking photos of t-shirts I used to own and grey-haired old men looking askance at Butthole Surfers and Bikini Kill albums. 

Watching video footage of Nirvana performing In Bloom and Breed at the Reading Festival moved me almost to tears.  I haven't yet worked out what I was crying for: Kurt's lost potential or my lost youth.  This whole trip has reminded me of who I was and who I can be.  It has brought home to me what my priorities are in life.  As I wrote in my notebook whilst watching Kurt wail, "Rock and roll bitch!"

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