Despite the fact Nevermind was released when I was still three years old, it still feels like it was part of my generation. It is a testament to its far-reaching impact that it was still so ubiquitous and contemporary feeling during my teenage years. Its success can be attributed to two things. First of all, obviously the music is great. It may not have had the edge of In Utero, the atmosphere of Unplugged or the raw power of Bleach, but it does have an all-encompassing popularity. It can bring together people from punk, pop, metal and indie backgrounds in a way no other artist has ever achieved.
The second, and for me most important part, of Nevermind was that it provided a window into another world. Growing up in the age of corporate sponsored pop music I longed for the music of the 60s and 70s. When I heard Nirvana for the first time (on VH1 classics, forever the shame) I was immediately blown away. It opened a door to a world, a contemporary world that I could feel part of. The American underground scene had existed since the early 80s, but it was this one moment that introduced it to the wider world.
Bands like Husker Du, Black Flag, Fugazi, Minor Threat, the Pixies, REM, Pavement, Sonic Youth and, of course, Nirvana became my life. Alternative music was currently undergoing another burst in to the mainstream with the popularity of nu-metal, a genre largely indebt to Nevermind’s pop shine. A genre I didn’t particularly have much time for. No worries though, if Nirvana had taught me anything, it was that there is always something great to find if you scratch below the surface. This is the legacy the album has had for me.
Nevermind’s long lasting appeal will inevitably be judged by the fact that there will never be another Nevermind. The internet has made music scenes and genres available at the click of a button. There will never again be a moment when an underground band will take the mainstream by surprise, because the underground scenes are no longer so hidden. As contemporary as Nevermind miraculously still feels it is also gloriously old fashioned. Listening to Nevermind today is a thrilling as when I first heard it, but it is the added layer of nostalgia that really stirs the emotions. It is this, more than anything, that warrants Neverminds inclusion in the often-discussed idea of the “rock cannon”.