We are so lucky to have had Nirvana. For seven gloriously angst-filled years, we had a band. It was a new and exciting experience for the world to have its first and only band. And that band blessed us with three stellar albums—Bleach, Nevermind, and In Utero, which changed the culture forever. The first time we all heard this thing Nirvana was making—this "music"—we instantly knew it was the real deal. The band was so great, in fact, that we’re still talking about them today. Constantly. Over 20 years after their demise, Nirvana continues to dominate cultural conversations through documentaries, books, and magazine articles. Every day we find out more and more about the legendary Nirvana.
But I’ve been thinking lately. Imagine this for a minute: What if—and bear with me because this is so absurd—there were other bands in the world? Like, bands that were not Nirvana. I mean, completely separate and independent of Nirvana. Sounds crazy, right? Let me explain.
(Also, please enjoy this Nirvana-related content!:)
As much as we love to glorify Nirvana, they were really just three guys from Seattle who had the wholly unique idea to start a band, right? So what if—and again, this is a somewhat ridiculous premise—after Nirvana ended, three other guys from Seattle who were not Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, and Krist Novoselic started a completely separate band and they played “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and we paid attention to them? Or—now that I think about it—they wouldn’t even have to play Nirvana songs at all. They could create completely original songs and play those!
Wait, actually, the three guys wouldn’t even necessarily have to be from Seattle. They could be from other cities in Washington. Spokane and Tacoma, for example. Or actually, no, they could be from any city in any state! Vermont! Idaho! Florida! Delaware, even! You name it. Bands might even be able to start up in other countries, too.
And now that I’m further thinking about it, this new “band” might not even need to be made up of three guys. It could be four or six or ten guys. Or 12! Woah, hold the phone. It might even be possible for a woman to be in a band? Yeah! And they wouldn’t even necessarily have to be white, either. They could be all different races and religions.
Did I blow your mind yet? Wait, hang on…
If there were other bands out there—even just literally one more besides Nirvana—we could have more than just three albums to listen to and wouldn’t have to settle on buying the Nirvana anniversary editions, box sets, B-sides/rarities collections, deluxe versions, and official live recordings that the record labels trot out every holiday season.
Now think about all the books that have been written about Nirvana. If we had more than one band (still so nuts to even think about), we would potentially have more books to read. Then, when you walked into a bookstore and went to the “music” section, it wouldn’t just be shelves full of histories of Nirvana and biographies about Kurt Cobain, but histories of other bands and biographies about other frontmen.
The entire state of music journalism would change if there were more bands than Nirvana. Magazines wouldn’t resort to devoting cover stories to Kurt Cobain for every single issue for two straight decades. They could put Kurt Cobain plus another frontman on a cover. Or, come to think of it, they might not even have to put Kurt on it at all! Imagine that. If Rolling Stone did not put Kurt Cobain on the cover of an issue, would people still buy it? This is like the whole tree falling in the woods scenario, but with grunge.
It wouldn’t just be magazines, either. Music blogs wouldn’t have to trip over themselves every time some decades-old 30-second clip of Kurt Cobain clearing his throat surfaced just because they know their readers will click on it. Instead of posting a seemingly unending supply of unearthed clips, they could devote coverage to new bands that have actually written a song within the last 20 years, maybe even bands that sound nothing like Nirvana. That way, our daily top music stories wouldn’t always be devoted to a portion of Kurt Cobain’s will being discovered or his old credit card being sold at an auction or that he maybe could’ve made a sex tape possibly.
Maybe, since we wouldn’t be constantly catering to Nirvana nostalgists, we could even write critically about the band and compare them against these new “other” bands instead of fawning over Nirvana with the reverential language typically reserved for war heroes and Nobel Peace Prize winners.
If we had other bands out there, clothing companies might not even have to sell overpriced vintage-looking Nirvana shirts to people who were not yet even born when Kurt Cobain was alive. No longer relegated to donning semi-ironic smiley face tees, people would be free to wear any band shirt they’d like. They would have choices, finally. It’s hard to even picture a world where everyone isn’t wearing a Nirvana shirt, but close your eyes and imagine with me.
Yes, it’d be quite a world if we had other musical options instead of glorifying a single act for the rest of all eternity to the point where they’ve been deified to such an extreme that we’ve clouded any rational perspective on them. But for now, we just have the one band. And that band is Nirvana.
Dan Ozzi's favorite Nirvana song is "Smells Like Teen Spirit." He's on Twitter - @danozzi