Nirvana's Krist Novoselic is Super Cereal About Politics, Celine Dion Fans.


The co-founder and former bassist for the band Nirvana, Krist Novoselic, has kind words for Celine Dion fans over at Time. It's a contribution to a new, expanded edition of a 2007 book praising the Quebecois songbird's massive 1997 album, Let's Talk About Love.

Novoselic has spent much of his post-Nirvana days engaged in political activity that's pretty wide-ranging. He has always struck me as a genial, good guy, if a bit crunchy-prog for my tastes. He's donated both to Barack Obama and Ron Paul and is the frontman for an organization that pushes proportional voting as a fix to what ails democracy. In 2004, he published a book called Of Grunge and Government: Let's Fix This Broken Democracy.

So what do politics have to do with Celine Dion fans? Novoselic argues:

Subversion is a cool look, but without action it is nothing more than a pose. Of course some hipster can kick around Céline Dion, but this kind of thing is too easy in the course of the care and feeding of a smug self-image.

OK, fair enough, though that's a reminder that Nirvana and its fans tended to take themselves way too seriously. Earlier iterations of punk (the Ramones, say) tended to love what they loved without apology or worrying overly much as to whether they were following a script.

All too often, I think, post-punk figures were way too earnest all the time. They took the world way too cereal (interestingly, The Foo Fighters, the band founded by former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, is all the more entertaining and accomplished for not taking itself too seriously).

Novoselic imagines the modal Dion fan thus:

The people who attend [legislative and policy] hearings are mainstream types who probably listen to Céline Dion – hardly the kind of subversive music that primes storming the barricades….

Organizing requires submission to a group, not subversion. Remember that another term for "band" is "group": The band works together to make its sound. With political association, instead of drums and guitars, the group elects officers and passes action resolutions, all while following the rules of Robert's Rules of Order….The truth is that someone with a self-image as a subversive needs to work with a mainstreamer Céline Dion fan to meet reform goals. That doesn't mean you have to listen to Dion's songs or that they need to embrace your own subculture. But you do have to listen and work with others – just like a good band does….

After the music and crowds leave, who's going to be there to clean up the glass and splintered furniture and start holding meetings regarding the people's business? The answer will always be found among the kinds of folks willing to spend long hours in meetings, and most of those people are more like Céline Dion fans.

Read the whole thing.

Am I wrong to find his POV here pretty insulting to Celine Dion fans and wildly off-base about how bands operate, too?

His idyll of rock band as utopian democracy is not at all compelling. From the Beatles to the Stones to the Who to Talking Heads to the Go-Gos to you name it, rock groups are notorious for brutal internal tyranny. It's a rare crew indeed where everyone has an equal say and the music still comes out sounding good. 

As to the larger point about politics, I get what Novoselic is saying: Reform isn't simply about tossing grenades and tearing stuff up. It's about following through. But does he really have to "other" Celine Dion fans to make that point? The notion of subversives vs. mainstreamers seems incredibly out of date. That's in large part thanks precisely to bands such as Nirvana—and so many other performers in the rock 'n' roll circus—that ushered in a thoroughly post-mainstream age. After Sigue Sigue Sputnik, the deluge! and all that. Because of large- and small-scale shifts in technology and social mores, we live in a robust age of plenitude, mutation, and DIYism. When Novoselic invokes his olde-tyme binary, he might as well be talking about the Jets and the Sharks from West Side Story

Ironically, the original version of the book to which Novoselic is contributing is subtitled "Why other people have such bad taste." Carl Wilson's 2007 volume is a terrific read precisely because it blows apart taste as a meaningful cultural category and replaces it instead with an appreciation for how fans process their objects of desire and how they speak through them (some of us at Reason are fond of talking about this as "the expressive view of culture"). It's a much richer understanding of how culture operates and one that dispenses with tired old Mandarin ways of separating culture into categories—high/low, uplifting/degenerate, good/bad, etc.—designed to end conversations rather than promote them.

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  1. Read the whole thing.

    No thanks. I think I gathered what I needed and don’t need to bore myself anymore.

  2. I think you are reading too much into it Nick. I saw an interview one time with Jeff Foxworthy. He said the reason why he decided to do his comedy the way he did was that he realized that there are millions and millions of people out there who are not cool, or hip or trendy and none of the comedians he knew of were trying to appeal to them. So that was the group tried to appeal to.

    I think Novelselic is making a similar point here about politics. People start or join a small political movement often times as a way of feeling part of something different. We are the only group that has things figured out so let us tell all of you squares why you are wrong. They end up being like the comedians that Foxworthy is talking about and only appealing to a small group of self appointed “hip” or “in tune” people. Well that is great if you want to fell smug. But if you want to actually accomplish something, you better figure out a way to make your message appealing and not elitist, because the people whose support is necessary to actually accomplish anything are not going to be drawn to that.

    1. There is a difference between tapping a virgin audience by offering them a niche product such as what Foxworthy did and then translating that in to a political movement.

      Musicians like to make a big deal about how music can break down walls, fight the man, etc etc. but that’s really just a bunch of crap. Rage Against the Machine raged so hard that they became a huge profiting Machine (ironic!), Joni Mitchell bitched about parking lots but they got paved anyway.

      Musicians have an enormous over-inflated sense of their own influence in society, and Novoselic is no exception.

      1. If you are the right musician at the right time, you really can break down walls. I honestly think the early Rock Musicians and the British Invasion bands really did break down walls in turning white America onto black music and in doing that making it easier for whites and blacks to live with each other. I think someone like Bob Marley did introduce millions of people to an entire music culture they might never have known had it not been for Marley showing it to them.

        But those musicians are few and far between. And there don’t seem to be any of them running around today who are under the age of 60.

        As for the rest, yeah, they are a bunch of ego maniac posers. There are few less important people in the world than Rage Against the Machine or Joni Mitchell.

        1. I rather enjoy the tonality and even the spirit of rebellion in RATM. Although, its the one band I listen to where I actively have to not try hearing the lyrics in order to prevent myself from grand mal rage convulsions.

          1. An anarcho-capitalist RATM-clone would kick so much ass that all of Asia would be born with their asses black and blue.

            Oh wait, that’s already a thing?

            1. Damn, I thought that might be link to a band or music style.

              1. So did I. But it was an interesting thing to learn. I used to bang an Ashkenazi jew girl who had a similar marking. Must’ve had a relative raped by Ghangis Khan at some point.

                1. . I used to bang an Ashkenazi jew girl who had a similar marking.

                  Considering that on most people it disappears by puberty….*looks left, looks right*

                  I think everyone must have had a relative raped by Genghis Khan at some point.

          2. “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” is always worth listening to (those words, I know that’s not the name of the song). Fortunately, I can’t understand most of the other lyrics.

            1. It’s “Killing in the Name of” and the lyrics are about police brutality.

              1. When the APD says “stop resisting” (even while all objective evidence shows no evidence of resistence), believe me, you will end up doing what they tell you.

              2. It is really funny to see all of those lyrics written out.

                Uugh. Motherfucker!

                I always thought is was “clothed in white” (some Klan reference or something) rather than “chosen whites”.

          3. That’s the thing about RATM. They were easily one of the best power trios of the last thirty years but they had a frontman who sounds like a whiny 13 year old.

            True Story: We have a RATM all-girl cover band in Nashville called “Take the Power Back” and no joke, the girl who raps and sings sounds IDENTICAL to De La Rocha. It’s uncanny.

            1. I enjoy the tonal quality of De La Rocha’s voice. Frankly, on the messy and brutal sounding riffs that personify RATM, his voice is a perfect accompaniment. A bit of a higher pitch that contrasts the occassional flats of the guitars, a raspiness that complements the overall raspy tonality, and a certain urban dialect that fits with the hip-hop synthesis of the lyrical delivery.

              Its just the complete lack of self awareness of protesting one imperial tyranny in favor of another that I have to tune out for sanity’s sake.

              1. agree. RATM sound is awesome. Basic political instincts are even right. But they got consumed by derpgressiviness.

            2. And have you heard Tom Morello’s stupid folky protest music stuff?


              1. This gets back to John’s point about below the line members of a band thinking they’re on par with the headliner.

                De La Rocha was always the voice of (literally and figuratively) RATM and his image is what matched the overall third-world empowerment movement. Morello looks more like a politbureau apparatchik. People see through that shit. Even Chris Cornell couldn’t salvage Morello’s career.

        2. the early Rock Musicians and the British Invasion bands really did break down walls in turning white America onto black music

          Another way to look at that era is to say “the early white Rock Musicians and the British Invasion bands stole the black musicians music and sold it for profit to adoring white audiences without paying any royalties or giving any writing credits” so I don’t have the same rose colored view of that particular era.

          Bob Marley sure did affect the culture, there was hardly a white male frat kid in college during the 90’s who didn’t know the lyrics to Redemption song by heart. Nothing beats irony than to listen to a rich white dude sing a song about slavery.

          There is a difference between affecting the musical culture the way say, a Jimi Hendrix did and affecting the culture politically, which I would argue never happens.

            1. Umm…he just explained it. The original artists who wrote and performed the 30s blues songs they were covering were still alive in the late 50s and 60s, and usually didn’t receive one red cent in royalties.

              1. And I just explained below why that is completely untrue.

                1. And you’re right, John, in the context you describe. However, there were actual cases of outright IP theft, that is copying a song word for word. They got away with it for many reasons, including the original being recorded on an obscure label of which a major company bought some of the library and the trail of ownership wasn’t clear.

                  1. Exhibit A:

                    “On the early 1970s British re-issue of Led Zeppelin II, the label on the record lists “Killing Floor” as the third track and is credited to Chester Burnett (Howlin’ Wolf’s real name), while the liner lists “The Lemon Song” and credits Led Zeppelin. In December 1972, Arc Music, owner of the publishing rights to Howlin’ Wolf’s songs, sued Led Zeppelin for copyright infringement on “The Lemon Song”.[3] The parties settled out of court. Though the amount was not disclosed, Burnett received a check for US$45,123 from Arc Music immediately following the suit, and subsequent releases included a co-songwriter credit for him.[4][5]”


                    1. yeah, you conveniently omit the previous sentences:

                      The song borrows from Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor”, which was a song Led Zeppelin often incorporated into their live setlist during their first concert tour of the United States. For the second and third North American tours the song evolved into “The Lemon Song”, with Plant often improvising lyrics onstage.
                      Other lyrics, notably “squeeze (my lemon) till the juice runs down my leg,” can be traced to Robert Johnson’s “Travelling Riverside Blues”. It is likely that Johnson borrowed this himself, from a song recorded in the same year (1937) called “She Squeezed My Lemon” (by Arthur McKay).[2] The song also borrowed from Albert King’s “Cross-Cut Saw”.[1]

                      So how was “The Lemon Song” stolen again?

                    2. They got sued and Wolf got his money. The Beach Boys ripped off Sweet Little Sixteen note for note and got sued too.

                      These things happen. But that doesn’t indict the entire British Invasion and Rock Music in general as “exploiters of black culture or thieves of black music”.

                    3. So it appears there is no dispute The Lemon Song was an original that borrowed from “Killing Floor” JUST LIKE HOW “Killing Floor” borrowed from Johnson WHO ALSO BORROWED from McKay and King.

                      But yeah the theft is “obvious”

              2. I hear a lot about this but musicians borrow and cover each other constantly. Do you think that those blues tunes were originals or were they borrowed from neighbors and friends and family who had been singing them for decades. er.

                1. Do you think that those blues tunes were originals or were they borrowed from neighbors and friends and family who had been singing them for decades.

                  Doesn’t matter. The original guy managed to get copyright for his rendition and it wasn’t honored. You may not agree with IP law, but it was being enforced then and from a legal standpoint, “theft of IP” is accurate to describe what some of these recording artists did.

                  1. So, in other words, if I am the guy lucky enough to get a copyright for “my rendition” that excludes all other renditions and all other cultural appropriation of something I didn’t even really invent?

                    Oh, let me get a violin out.

                    1. Oh, let me get a violin out.

                      And you can play an original song you want, but it doesn’t change how the law is interpreted. As an example from another field. Even though Shakespeare’s plays are in the public domain, I can’t just photocopy a copy of a Shakespeare play published by Penguin and sell it. Even photocopying the whole book and just giving it to my class would be a violation of copyright law, and publishing companies do bring people to court for such things.

                    2. 1) John is right when he says that a few aberrations do not tar the entire genre and (2) I have no patience for people who wildly exaggerate this “appropriate” garbage. It’s an excuse to piss on something popular.

                  2. “theft of IP” is accurate

                    disagree. Original owner wasn’t deprived of anything. no theft occurres.

                    I think “infringment” (of his government granted monopoly) is accurate though.

                    /anti IP pedant

          1. Another way to look at that era is to say “the early white Rock Musicians and the British Invasion bands stole the black musicians music and sold it for profit to adoring white audiences without paying any royalties or giving any writing credits” so I don’t have the same rose colored view of that particular era.

            That is completely. First, all music is by your definition “theft” since it is all based on something before it. Did the electric blues musicians of the 50s steal the music of the early country blues acoustic singers? I guess, but who cares?

            Second, if you think Elvis or the early rock musicians just stole black music, you don’t understand either for of music. Listen to Elvis’ version of Hound Dog or any of the Sun sessions and then listen to real electric blues. They are nothing alike. The Elvis stuff is just a different form of music. One that was influenced by the blues but no the same thing by any reasonable estimation.

            I am not saying one is better than the other. They are just different.

            Third, thanks the British invasion, those blues artists got to have long and lucrative careers into the 60s and 70s. Without Rock and Roll, Muddy Waters would have still been playing Chicago dives instead of big halls in the 1970s. So, the black musicians were hardly exploited.

            1. So, the black musicians were hardly exploited.

              I will just to agree to disagree with you. Led Zeppelin alone made millions off of songs that were outright theft including the music and the lyrics and the original writers never received a penny. To argue that “well, because they stole the music people eventually went and saw Muddy Waters anyways” is hardly justification. And that’s just Zeppelin. The list is a lot longer than that.

              1. Like I asked above, you claim those songs were “stolen” when they could have been part of the cultural fabric for a century. If Zeppelin did a cover of “Swing Low” does Fisk University get the credit?

                1. HM covers this above.

              2. Theft is what the Blues is. You know how many people have done versions of Dust my Broom? Most of those songs people are not even sure who wrote. Yeah, we think Robert Johnson wrote Love in Vain but no one knows. Given that, why were the Stones wrong for listing it as “traditional” in the liner notes?

                If you are going to be pissed off at Zeppelin for ripping off Muddy Waters, then you better say the same thing about Waters ripping off Charlie Patton and Robert Johnson. The only difference is Zeppelin made more money.

                1. I’m not pissed off. To me, it’s Exhibit A of the absurdity of current IP law.

                  Still it’s a dick move to appropriate someone’s music and make millions off it without even acknowledging the dude who originally introduced it to you.

                2. I’m not pissed, and I understand that most blues songs are cultural heirlooms handed down from one generation to another, but the Zeppelin cases (and several others) were significantly more egregious in my opinion because they didn’t just make more money, they made A LOT more money, and many of the artists they stole from ended up penniless.

                  1. Tman, the Zeppelin example you brought up isn’t even a good one. Your source admits that “The Lemon Song” evolved from “Killin’ Floor” and was not the same song.

                    1. In an interview he gave to Guitar World magazine in 1993, Page commented on the band’s use of classic blues songs:

                      “[A]s far as my end of it goes, I always tried to bring something fresh to anything that I used. I always made sure to come up with some variation. In fact, I think in most cases, you would never know what the original source could be. Maybe not in every case — but in most cases. So most of the comparisons rest on the lyrics. And Robert was supposed to change the lyrics, and he didn’t always do that — which is what brought on most of the grief. They couldn’t get us on the guitar parts of the music, but they nailed us on the lyrics. We did, however, take some liberties, I must say [laughs]. But never mind; we did try to do the right thing. “

                      My original point was that I don’t believe the British Invasion was the boon to the early blues musicians that many make it out to be. And again, in many cases it was theft of previously copyrighted material. Whether or not that copyright was legitimate or not is a good question but it was and that’s why they got sued.

                  2. But Tman,

                    It is not like they covered the songs exactly as is or sampled them. I love Led Zeppelin but whatever they were doing it wasn’t blues. It was something else that really only they have been able to do. They added a lot to that music and transformed it into something new. Frankly, I disagree that the song writers deserve a cut of the money Zeppelin made.

                    And if it makes you feel any better, the drum tracks to When the Levy Breaks and In My Time of Dying are the most sampled songs in history. Basically, the entire hip hop movement was built around John Bonham drum samples. And Zeppelin didn’t get a dime as far as I know.

                    1. They were a great band, but they were also rip-off artists. And not everyone they ripped off was an old blues dude.

                    2. They added a lot to that music and transformed it into something new.

                      I would say that on some songs this is true, but on others they flat out stole the music and the lyrics.

                      “You Need Love” by Muddy Waters and Zeppelins “Whole Lotta Love” are essentially the same song, music and lyrics included.

                      Rhino Records released an entire album of original blues songs that “influenced” in some cases and “were outright stolen” in others.


                      Speaking as a musician who has played these songs thousands of times, you will not convince me that “Whole Lotta Love” was original in any sense of the word in light of the Waters version.

                    3. It is a subjective thing Tman. Are the two versions the “same song”? Yeah. Is it the “same music’? No way. There is a reason why the Zeppelin version made so much more money. It appeals to a different sensibility and is a really bizarre take on the original.

                      I see what you are saying. But I don’t really believe in IP law the way it is now. I think what Zeppelin did is how most art is made. I don’t consider them to be any bigger theives than any other artist is.

                      And like I said above, Waters ripped off Charlie Patton, Howling Wolf and Robert Johnson every bit as much as Zeppelin ripped him off. So I have a hard time feeling some great sympathy for Waters. Besides which, how many records did Waters sell to people who only knew of his music because of Led Zeppelin? I bet more than he ever sold in the 50s.

                    4. Are the two versions the “same song”? Yeah. Is it the “same music’? No way.

                      It’s a subjective interpretation. I’ve been playing guitar long enough to know the difference between being “influenced” and actually stealing the riffs themselves. With Zeppelin there is a little of both.

                      I would argue that Muddy benefited the most from appearing in the Last Waltz, not from Zeppelin stealing his songs and riffs. Most people still don’t know how much of “Whole Lotta Love” is basically a Muddy Waters song right down to the guitar riffs.

                      You are right that it is subjective, but again my point was that I don’t believe the British Invasion was the boon to the early blues musicians that many make it out to be.

                    5. Tman,

                      You are right most people don’t know whole lotta love is a Muddy Waters’ song.

                      What I meant was there is a huge number of people, myself included, who only found out about the blues and got into it and eventually Waters because of Led Zeppelin. As a 14 year old middle class kid in the Midwest, no way would I have gotten real blues. But I got Led Zeppelin and that was pretty much the gateway drug to real blues and eventually Jazz and a whole lot of other things.

                      That is what I meant by Waters selling records to people who knew of him through Zeppelin.

        3. I honestly think the early Rock Musicians and the British Invasion bands really did break down walls in turning white America onto black music

          At most, they accelerated the process by a few years.

          Not the revolutionary transformation they like to credit themselves with.

          1. I think you are mistaken that they claim they caused a “revolutionary transformation. And accelerating the process is a pretty big deal. Since it would have happened eventually by dumb luck if nothing else, really everything “at best accelerated the process”.

      2. Music can break down walls. Just not usually in the way that the musicians like to imagine. IN addition to John’s examples, western heavy metal music (and other genres) helped turn the youth of communist countries more toward the west and helped open them up to change.

    2. I think Novelselic is making a similar point here about politics. People start or join a small political movement often times as a way of feeling part of something different. We are the only group that has things figured out so let us tell all of you squares why you are wrong. They end up being like the comedians that Foxworthy is talking about and only appealing to a small group of self appointed “hip” or “in tune” people.

      I agree with this interpretation and came on this thread to say something substantially similar. Combine what he said about “smug”ness with the need to get along with mainstream folks and basically this guy is saying, “hey, libertarians (or whatever pure cadre you want), you can’t just engage each other. You need to engage the soccer moms”

      1. Hence the purpose of the phrase “fuck off, slavers” — to engage the soccer moms by calling them what they are.

  3. The Foo Fighters’ “Learning to Fly” music video ranks in the top ten.

    1. The other nine are all “Sabotage”.

  4. Kurt Cobain is dead and Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley can’t get along.

    I think the only Hall of Fame inductee that is performing this year is Hall and Oates.

    1. That is about par for the course. Levon Helm refused to show up and perform with Robbie Robertson when The Band was inducted. John Fogerty was still so angry at the other members of CCR he only came and performed on the condition that they didn’t appear on stage with him and that he performed the songs with an all star band and not them.

      Drugs, big money and artistic ego create grudges that die hard.

      1. More proof that most male musicians are little better than women*

        *this is why there are no female libertarians

        1. The problem with rock bands is that there is usually one or two people who are the real stars and the rest of the group is just side men. The problem is that usually the side men don’t realize they are side men and start demanding a voice in how the group runs. The real stars naturally get pissed off by this because they think “dude, you would still be washing cars if I hadn’t written all of these songs” and the fight begins.

          Rare is the group that the supporting members of the band realize their roles and the stars properly appreciate them so they don’t get pissed off. The Rolling Stones are about the only example. Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman never tried to Mick and Keith, “hey why can’t we do one of my songs on the next record” and were happy to play their role as rhythm section to the glimmer twins.

          1. I think one of the reasons country music has so few feuds is that most singers and groups use interchangeable backup bands.

            1. Rock figured that out a little bit in the 1970s. The worst example of side men gone wild is CCR. CCR was John Fogerty. But the other members of the band demanded an equal voice and the whole thing fell apart. In the mid 70s, the music industry started telling bands “hey we like your lead guy but not the band” and thus The Heartbreakers became Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and The E Street Band became Bruce Springsteen and so forth.

          2. In my mind, the greatest band mate of all time was Ian Stewart of the Rolling Stones. He got booted from the band right away because he was tall and ugly, and they thought it would look weird to have six people in the band while everyone else had five. But he became their touring manager and played all their honky tonk piano, including “Let It Bleed” and Zeppelin’s “Boogie with Stu” (he was the “Stu”). As touring manager he booked all their hotel rooms at golf courses so he could play golf in the morning. He never did drugs and died young. In other words, he was the most rebellious person in rebellious rock and roll.

            1. He was a very respected boogie pianist. Richards’ says in his book “I still work for Stu really”.

              My favorite story about him is that he never drank much or was into drugs but he was a maniac golfer. So he would plan the Stones’ tours and make sure they stayed in as many hotels with golf courses or near famous courses as possible. The Stones would hit town with hundreds of girls looking to lay them and end up staying 30 miles out of town at some golf resort because Ian Stuart liked the course.

          3. Sometimes, though a backing band adds something indefinable to a band’s sound even if they aren’t ‘writing’ songs.

            1. The Stones wouldn’t be the Stones without Charlie Watts, no doubt. Drummers can be especially important to a band’s sound. But that is still not the same as being the song writer or front man.

          4. Sometimes it’s the lead that’s the problem. There’s only so much of Axl’s crap a guy can put up with.

            1. And the lead has to actually produce. You can’t take ten years making your Chinese Democracy follow up record. If you want to be the lead, be the fucking lead and produce something.

    2. I think the only Hall of Fame inductee that is performing this year is Hall and Oates.

      I think Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald might have a thing or two to say about Hall and Oates.

  5. Nirvana sucked. QED.

    1. Their Unplugged album still holds up.

    2. They really did. They are without doubt the most overrated band of my lifetime. The only record they did I still listen to even occasionally is the unplugged in New York one. And that was mostly covers and songs that were never singles. It is a great record and performance, but it hardly qualifies as a real Nirvana record.

      All the band’s fanboys can say is “but they killed off the hair bands”. Big fucking deal. The hair bands were horrible. Everyone knows that. How is killing them off some great accomplishment?

      1. They also killed off 80’s thrash metal in the process, an act for which they should be charged under the Alien and Sedition Act.

        1. Thrash metal committed suicide when Metallica tried to become a grunge band with Loaded and Reloaded.

          1. Oops, Load and Reload.

          2. Exactly my point. But worth noting that Load didn’t release until 1996, at which point the grunge era was already winding down (and even worse, booty rap and boy bands started becoming the mainstream pop music).

            1. Booty rap at least had the advantage of encouraging women to lasciviously shake their asses.

          3. The metal show at my university were calling them “Selloutica” before Nirvana went mainstream.

        2. And killed off the old British Metal Bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and such.

          And they had very little lasting effect. Grunge was dead by the late 1990s and middle school white kids had moved on from heavy metal to gangster rap as the preferred method of pissing off their parents.

          1. Grunge was dead by 1997, but Zombiegrunge, aka Creed and Nickelback, was just getting started.

            1. It would be *you* who brings up two of the worst bands of all time.

          2. Killed off? Those two are still around, aren’t they?

            1. So is Poison Zeb. They didn’t literally kill them. They just took away a lot of their fans.

              1. What they did was make it uncool for a few years to be ridiculous. And that was a terrible tragedy, because the 80s thrived on ridiculousness.

                1. That is a great way to put it Warty. I had never thought of it that way. But you are right. What made the 80s fun was that it was a joke but when done well a really good joke.

                  Grunge ushered in an age of earnest, joyless music.

          3. JP and IM were relics of the late ’70s by the 90’s anyway.

            And I contest the notion that grunge was ever really “alive” in the first place. Some good bands but it was hyped and recycled so quickly.

            1. Pretty much. Everything has its time. Good ones like IM and JP will come back given time.

          4. Have you seen the Iron Maiden documentary? Flight 666 or something.

            Not killed off, no popularity drop either. Families go together to the show, they didnt lose fans, they just started having kids who are also Maiden fans.

        3. I thought Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power got the credit / blame for killing thrash?

          1. Maybe. All I know is that it is awesome. Though I still favor Cowboys From Hell.

            1. Dimebag’s guitar squeels on Cemetary Gates are only matched by his guitar squeels on Becoming (from Far Beyond Driven).

              Interesting side note: the late Dimebag Darrell shares the same birthday as Ron Paul.

              And me.

              And Slobodan Milosevic.

              Take that information as you will.

              1. Cemetery Gates makes me shiver. Some pretty great guitar squealing on The Sleep as well.

              2. A friend of a friend caught Dimebag’s body. It was macabre.

                1. No shit? That must have been a fucked up scene. Lucky your friend didn’t get shot. Didn’t it take a while to take down the shooter?

                2. Macabre, yes. But perhaps one of the most honorable stories a man can tell.

        4. Nirvana didn’t kill off anything. Thrash was NEVER mainstream. In fact, Megadeth had some of their biggest success during the Grunge era. See Countdown to Extinction as an example.

          Now if you’re referring to to the Glam bands, that’s another story. But I would argue that they did it to themselves. The cheese was over the top and it was the 3 iteration of Glam bands that that point. Bands like Britny Foxx and Pretty Boy Floyd should never have been allowed in the studio.

          1. *3rd

          2. Anybody that refers to any of those shitty, shitty clown acts as Glam should be forced to floss their teeth with Gary Glitter’s chest hair for a month.

      2. Why are the hair bands universally considered horrible, but Bruce Springsteen or John Mellencamp considered so great?

        1. Some hair bands were brutal, some were really good, like most other genres. I always liked Ratt a lot. Di Martini is underrated. Tesla, if you consider them a hair band, are underrated as well.

          I’m originally from NJ and I guess I’m supposed to love Bruce. Fact is I hate him, and Sinatra too.

      3. They are without doubt the most overrated band of my lifetime.

        Kiss would like a word…

      4. I could still listen to which ever album has the swimming baby on it, if I hadn’t already heard every song on the “alternative” station 5 times in the last year anyways.

        I say U2 is way more over rated though.

    3. This. And its not grunge as a movement that just sucked, its Nirvana in specific. Eddie Vedder, for all his oddities, is still among my favorite vocalists of all time.

      1. I remember a music review in the 90s that was complaining that Nirvana and Pearl Jam were both way over rated, but did note the Eddie Vedder (unlike Kurt Cobain) could actually sing.

    4. I think Gillespie nailed it with the comment about the Ramones. With early punk the whole point was “we do what we want and we really don’t care what YOU think we should do.”

      By the time Nirvana came around, punk had become a quasi-religion, with members subjected to constant purity tests. Nirvana took “punk” and turned it in every way into the opposite of everything that was great about punk originally.

      If Kurt Cobain were alive today, Nirvana would be a joke.

      1. I think Gillespie nailed it with the comment about the RamonesGoldwater. With early punk the whole point was “we do what we want and we really don’t care what YOU think we should do.”

        By the time Nirvana Ron Paul came around, punklibertarianism had become a quasi-religion, with members subjected to constant purity tests.

        1. I heard In Sync got a 94 on the Grunge Purity Test.

      2. The funny thing about Punk is that it was at heart a movement back to pop music. It was in its early form a reaction against Prog Rock. The Ramones were doing three chord pop songs just louder and at a faster tempo. The Ramones went and got Phil Spector as a producer for a reason. It is because they were trying to put their spin on the pre British invasion pop songs they grew up listening to. That is all it was.

        Once it became a quasi-religion, all of that was forgotten and so went all of the pop sensibility that made the music interesting in the first place.

        1. Ironically, punk rock, in turn, began to influence prog rock.

          I think The Police and Talking Heads are two of Geddy Lee’s favorite bands.

          1. But the Police could actually play their instruments and were very high end professional musicians. The Clash aside (who are the exception that proves the rule), doesn’t having actual musical ability disqualify you from being a punk band?

            I am not sure I would consider the Police a punk band. They were far too interesting for that.

            1. I think Post-Punk was more interesting that the original punk scene.

              Bands like Devo, The Police, Talking Heads, and Oingo Boingo married their interests in texture and structure with their desire to make 3 minute radio songs. As a result, punk lost the chainsaw guitars and gained melody.

              1. Bad Religion provides the perfect fusion, retaining an element of punk’s subversivenes and a strong enough complexity of sound and melody.

        2. The three-chord simplicity I don’t think was designed to make music more pop oriented or accessible but rather a consequence of not caring enough about the music (as much as the attitude of it) to learn complex structures.

          Metal musicians, especially as the 80’s dawned, were really Mozart-esque savants. Punk, by contrast, was Liszt simplicity.

          Its Strivinsky’s Firebird Suite vs. The Rite of Spring.

          1. Not the in the beginning Sudden. I am talking about the first punk bands, the Ramones and New York Dolls primarily. All of them were made up of kids who grew up listening to 60s, wall of sound, tin pan alley pop music and thought rock had become bloated and self indulgent. They were subversives too and didn’t want to become the Four Seasons. At heart though, it was about going back to the three minute, simple, song instead of the 8 minute prog opuses that were being made at the time.

            1. I think that’s part of it but it was a lot about authenticity and attitude. Had Jim Morrison been five years younger he’d have been out in the middle of the punk scene.

              And, I’ve always thought that the Plasmatics – especially W.o.W. – had a great mix of real attitude and complex music.

    5. I read somewhere that Cobain himself was becoming tired with Nirvana’s musical limitations.

      Part of the reason his relationship was becoming strained with Courtney Love in 1994 was the he suspected (perhaps correctly?) that Love was cheating on him with Billy Corgan, whom, despite Kurt’s jealousy, he viewed as a much more capable musician.

      1. I would view Corgan as a much better musician and Smashing Pumpkins as a much better band than Nirvana ever was.

        1. They were. But a lot of people labeled the Pumpkins as “sell-outs.” Adore doesn’t get the respect it deserves, but it was one of the better alternative rock albums of the 90s. Partly because it didn’t sound like Creed or Stone Temple Pilots.

          1. “Perfect” is IMHO one of the best songs of the 1990s. It is the kind of song Cobain would have always licked to have written but never did.

            1. You have to know more than power chords to write a song like “Perfect.” You also have to be willing to dispense with the quiet/loud dynamic and learn how to structure songs that play at the same volume throughout.

    6. I didn’t like them at the time, but I like them OK now. Not enough that I ever listen to them on purpose, but I don’t hate them. Cobain is a lot easier to take if you see him as a goofy guy with mental problems than as the idol that so many people made him.

      1. My favorite Nirvana song, was ironically, one they didn’t care for, and almost kept off the album – Lounge Act. In large part, that’s due to Novocelic writing what I think is his best bass line for that song.

        1. Every time I see videos of Nirvana in concert Novocelic is playing some simplified version of the bassline that’s on the album. He’s such a shoddy bassist that I have difficulty believing that he ever wrote anything. I also remember some MTV news interview when In Utero was coming out where the Novocelic and Grohl was stating how happy they were that Kurt let them contribute a bit on the album, though the song in question was Scentless Apprentice, which is awful.

          I’m against the consensus here on Nirvana. Nevermind is a great album, though the band does get more credit than it deserves.

          1. I’m not sure how much consolation it is, but I agree with you.

          2. Also, I apologize for that first sentence in my 2:54 comment. It needs many, many more commas.

          3. Nevermind is a great album. Catchy, loud rock and roll. Didn’t like In Utero or Unplugged as much. I’ll also take the dissenting opinion on Pearl Jam and Vedder. I can’t stand his singing, never could. I never thought that Cobain was the voice of my generation, whatever the hell that even means, I never even knew what he was singing about. But I think he’s way more talented than folks here are giving him credit for. Also, bands like Guns ‘N’ Roses and the Black Crowes had a lot more to do with the death of hair metal than grunge, which might have just been the final nail in the coffin.

  6. One of the great things I accomplished during my marriage was destroying my ex’s love of Celine Dion.

    When we first married, she was a huge fan, and baffled why I invariably asked her to change the music. Finally, I pointed out, “she doesn’t sing, she screams semi-melodically and slightly off-key”.

    My ex has training as a vocalist and musician, and once I pointed it out, she started noticing it too. After we watched Titanic in the theater, she commented that she couldn’t stand Celine Dion.

    So I did do something good in this life.

    1. So I did do something good in this life.

      And I, will always love you.

  7. Am I wrong to find his POV here pretty insulting to Celine Dion fans and wildly off-base about how bands operate, too?

    Yes. And what he means by “But you do have to listen and work with others ? just like a good band does….” is as a musician, when playing with others, you have to listen to what they are playing and fit what your doing into the overall harmony. You just can’t go off on a riff at any tempo and key that you want.

  8. OK, fair enough, though that’s a reminder that Nirvana and its fans tended to take themselves way too seriously.


    I remember smells like teen spirit, as the name implies, was an attempt to make a mocking teen pop song.

    Also i remember them prankstering Eddie Vedder from pearl jam and later Axl Rose.

    I suppose they got a bit more serious after some dudes raped a woman while singing a Nirvana song and it had an effect on them and how they treated their music.

  9. “All too often, I think, post-punk figures were way too earnest all the time.”

    Do you hate 99% of music then? I hate to break it to you, but most musicians take their music seriously.

    “Beethoven? Too earnest”

    1. Do you hate 99% of music then?

      And that’s what Gillespie takes as evidence for his “coolness”.

    2. Absolutely musicians have been taking themselves WAY WAY too seriously ever since Beethoven. It’s the great downside to his contribution to world culture.

    3. You don’t have to be earnest all the time to take your art seriously. Comedy/novelty bands take their music seriously. The problem is when you take yourself too seriously. Even then, I don’t care as long as the music is pleasant and interesting. I find it is best to judge the art and artist separately.

    4. That is not true. Beethoven was pretty earnest. But Mozart certainly wasn’t. In modern terms, the Beatles were not anywhere near as earnest as their fans like to think of them being. Most of their songs are good jokes that went right over their earnest fans’ heads.

      I think most musicians are a lot less earnest than you think. Writing a good song is a craft, more running a lathe or blowing glass than the quick artistic inspiration non musicians think of it as being. It is the non musician fans who are earnest.

      1. GOod point on the Beatles. Even on their later, heavier albums all of their lyrics are pretty funny if you listen. Even John Lennon who a lot of people see as Mr serious artist was pretty much a goof.

        1. paperback writer — the background vocals include “frere jacques” over and over again.

          1. They all had good senses of humor. Even bands with lyrics I can take seriously all have to have some sense of humor, I think.

        2. There is a film of a reporter asking McCartney something to the effect of “People say Day Tripper is about a Prostitute and Norwegian Wood is about a lesbian, what was the band thinking when they wrote those song?”

          McCartney with perfect comic timing and deadpan responds

          “That we wanted to write songs about prostitutes and lesbians”.

          1. Five or six years ago, Paul was presenting at some awards show. When he came on the stage, the audience exploded in applause. After they quieted down, Paul, said “Hello, I’m Paul McCartney. I used to be part of a little beat group. You may have heard of them. They were called ‘The Beatles’.”

            1. The documentary on the Sound City Recording Studio shows McCartney at Dave Grohl’s house recording on the old Sound City board. All of the people in the room are kind of standing in awe. McCartney is to his great credit completely down to earth and seems to be happy to have someone to play with.

            1. the interview on “prostitutes and lesbians”

  10. From the Beatles to the Stones to the Who to Talking Heads to the Go-Gos to you name it, rock groups are notorious for brutal internal tyranny.

    I bet the other women in The Go-Gos were just jealous they weren’t as awesome as Belinda.

    1. I bet you liked Ginger over Mary Ann too. I bet Belinda was a bitch. Jane Weidlin was a much more fun time.

      1. Jane all the way.

        1. Have you looked at her lately though?

          1. I don’t want to spoil it.

  11. I liked Nirvana at the time they came out, because I was dumb and in high school.
    They don’t hold up, except as mentioned the unplugged set.
    But are there really a lot of albums from 1990-1995 that are still in your regular rotation?

    1. Seasons in the Abyss. At The Gates.

      Still, point taken; it’s been a long while since I’ve given a shit about Nitzer Ebb or Skinny Puppy.

    2. Metallica Black Album
      The entire Pantera collection during that period.
      Snot’s self-titled (and only)

      Can’t think of any others.

    3. Seasons in the Abyss

      1. Also Divine Intervention

      2. Yes to both of these. How I left Slayer out I cannot say….

    4. The Bends

      1. I still listen to the first Wilco album too.

    5. All Pantera.

      “Sound Of White Noise” by Anthrax. LOVE that album. I’m in the minority I know, but I always thought John Bush slayed Joey Belladonna.

      Megadeth’s “Rust in Piece” and “Countdown…”

      Also a lesser known band called Eleven.

      “Push” by Gruntruck.

      I still liosten to the Seattle bands on occasion. Listen to Alice in Chains at least once a week.

      1. Also Local H

    6. A few from Kings X.

      But even with them, I usually go earlier or later.

    7. Guided by Voices, Pavement, Dinosaur Jr, Archers of Loaf, Sugar, Built to Spill, Velvet Crush, Matthew Sweet, even Television have albums from that time period that still rank among my favorites and that I listen to all the time. You can judge me by my tastes, I know what they are, I don’t give a shit.

  12. U2 hasn’t changed lineup or had any public fights in almost 40 years.
    You may not like them, but they’re still pushing it out.

    1. I’ve hated U2 since Pop. Everything since 2000 has sounded rather bland. Still good songs, but I think they’ve entered post-Tattoo You Rolling Stones territory.

      1. Actually, I would encourage you to listen to Pop again. It is actually a really good record with a lot of very complex and interesting music in it. I didn’t like it for years but then about five years ago gave it another try and was pleasantly surprised.

        That said, U2s last three records have been mixed at best. They seem to have lost their mojo.

        And as for the Stones, I will defend Undercover until you peel my cold dead hands from the vinyl. That is a great record.

        Both U2 and the Stones suffer from expectations and their music always being heard in light of went before it. Honestly, if you had no idea there was such a band as the Rolling Stones and the first record you heard was A Bigger Bang, you would think it was a good record. The problem is that you can’t do that. And whenever you hear their music you can’t help but compare it to what came before and when you are the Rolling Stones and you are responsible for 7 or 8 of the top 30 records of all time, virtually anything you do is going to suck in comparison.

      2. Apexed in the 90’s, during the vast musical wasteland.

      3. Joshua Tree was the last U2 album I paid attention to.

        1. You missed out Rob. They did some good stuff in the 1990s.

  13. I recently watched the “Metal Evolution” documentary series, which I totally recommend. When it hit the “Grunge” episode and they started interviewing all the old grunge acts, I was genuinely gobsmacked at how pretentious most of them were, with the exception of The Melvins. I mean, proto-hipster to the nth degree. Personally I found it hilarious to see some strung-out, washed-up 50-year-old broad in her basement efficiency turn her nose up at Slayer, as if her caterwauling was somehow more “authentic” than Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman trading riffs back and forth.

    It really was and still is as if there was this fishbowl called Seattle where this weird, stupid kind of music happened in a total vacuum, and just somebody happened to drop a mic in the bowl for a few years. It’d be like if there was a six year period where all of a sudden go-go just swept the nation. Or like Baltimore House, god forbid.

    Looking back, especially pulling up old stuff I briefly listened to in the 90s, grunge was about as worthless a musical style as I could possibly imagine. Even disco had some value as a progenitor of techno and a warehouse for rap samples.

    1. Disco’s influence lagged 20 years. Grunge’s has acted the same way, and produced what is modern hispter music.

      Its little surprise that disco was originally about hedonistic drug culture and techno has followed suit. And little surprise that grunge bands were as pompous and self-important as modern hispters are.

      1. somehow, I dyslexically can’t spell hipster.

    2. Not “proto-hipster”. There have always been hipsters.

  14. I used to work with a guy whose most prized possession was a cassette tape with a pep-talk from Cobain. Not generic one, but a personalized one.

    I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to be rude, but my first thought was “A pep-talk from a guy who blew his head off with a shotgun? Really?”

  15. Too much useless info.

  16. I haven’t the faintest idea of what this article or the comments are talking about. So I’ll just toss this in:

    California state senator Leland Yee becomes third Democrat arrested by FBI on corruption charges

    California state Sen. Leland Yee has been arrested on public corruption charges as part of several arrests made by the FBI Wednesday morning during a raid, the FBI has told NBC Bay Area.

    The FBI office in San Francisco said that those arrrested in Wednesday’s sweep, including Yee, will appear before Federal Magistrate Judge Nathaniel Cousins in San Francisco at 1:30 p.m for arraignment.
    One of the places the FBI searched Wednesday was at the San Francisco Chinatown office of the Gee King Tong Free Masons, where Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, a former Chinatown gangster, conducts business.

    Chow is now president of the Supreme Lodge of Chinese Free Masons of the world in San Francisco.

    “The FBI executed multiple search warrants in the city and beyond,” FBI spokesperson Peter Lee said, adding that the agency is not giving out detailed information at the moment because they are concerned about officer safety.

    Sources told NBC Bay Area that Yee faces corruption charges in relation to his work as a state senator as well as his campaign for secretary of state.

    Party-affiliation, unknown.

    1. Dude was fucking with the Triads? Bad move. He’s going to get cleavered to death for this fuck up.

      1. Lee is one of the most prominent advocates of gun control in California. Who wants to bet he has guns in his house for protection?

        1. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Fuck Leland Yee.

          1. I had talk radio on the drive home, and Limbaugh was chuckling about this. Apparently, Lee had fucked with him over a bit he’d done a couple years ago.

              1. Shouldn’t being part of a proud and ancient culture make you a bit more tough skinned when it comes to people making dumb jokes about how you look or talk?

                I’m not sure what sounds people make when immigrating American English, but I’m pretty sure I could handle it without whining about cultural insensitivity.

      2. How is it any surprise that he was on the take from organized crime? Govt is nothing but constitutionally empowered organized crime specializing in racketeering and extortion.

        Hell, his Triad affiliations are probably less reprehensible than his State Senate affiliations.*

        *If Fluke gets elected to state senate here, I may have no choice but to finally leave.

        1. It is pretty much known that the Chicago political establishment is on the take from and works hand in hand with the worst street gangs to stay in power.

  17. A discussion of Seattle rock and roll and no mention of the indomitable King Buzzo? The man is overdue for a Reason profile.…..x?amp&

  18. I hate the Foo Fighters. I don’t know what that says about me, but I don’t care. I actually listen to terrestrial radio stations and only Phil Collins can make me change a rock station faster than the Foo Fighters.

    1. They mostly suck. But there are so few even competent rock bands that get any play these days. The Foo Fighters get to own a nearly empty field.

    2. Foo Fighters is the number one band that I want to like, but I just can’t no matter how hard I try.

      Kind of like pickles. They look good. Everybody else seems to like them. But I just find them disgusting.

      1. The number one band that I want to like. That is a great way to put it Emmerson. It seems like they should be good and you should like them. But then you listen to their music and it never does anything for you.

        1. This is exactly it! There’s nothing inherently unlikable about them, except their music always disappoints me in some way whenever I hear it. Every song, which is an amazing feat. There are songs I like by artists I have no trouble hating, like RATM. Yet the Foo Fighters, who seem fun and interesting just can’t manage to create a song that I enjoy.

      2. Yeah. Dave Grohl is a very talented guy and writes good pop rock songs. But that doesn’t do enough for me to make me want to listen to it. Hearing that one song on the radio every day doesn’t help much either.

  19. check out FF concert schedule for 2015 here: foo fighters tour dates 2015

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