Tom MacInnes June 5, 2021 2 Minutes
This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #499: About a Girl by Nirvana
As much as Bob Marley may be the face of Reggae music, Kurt Cobain and Nirvana were the face of 90s music and, more specifically, the musical genre named, for better or worse, as Grunge. Nirvana consisted of Cobain as lead singer, Krist Novoselic on bass guitar and Dave Grohl on drums. Nirvana’s roots were in the punk rock scene around Seattle (which also spawned Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains to name but a few). One of the characteristics of Punk Rock, in general, is a fierce sense of independence, an anti-establishment-ism, if you will. Nirvana possessed that attitude in spades. They cut their musical teeth thrashing about in basement clubs and private homes. Their concerts were hot, sweaty, crowded affairs that earned them a bit of a cult following and encouraged them to decide to release their own LP. That album was entitled, “Bleach”. On that album was a song called, “About a Girl”.
Kurt Cobain was a talented songwriter. This was evident even before the Nevermind album that broke Nirvana and made them headlining superstars. “About a Girl” is a song about his girlfriend at the time and how he viewed their relationship. A guy writing songs about a girl is nothing new, I know. But, for Nirvana, this song was a big risk in their minds because it was how the mainstream world was introduced to the band. Cobain always wrestled with the commercial aspects of his music and often felt that he was betraying his Punk Rock roots with songs like “About a Girl” which he considered to be more of a Pop song.
Nirvana will appear several more times on this list before we are through so there is plenty of time to discuss the many aspects of what helped to make this band one of the best of all time. But, for now, know that success and popularity brought Nirvana to be recognized everywhere from the US Library of Congress, to Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of top bands of all time (at #29), to selling millions of albums and song downloads, to being inducted into the most mainstream of institutions, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during their first year of eligibility in 2014.
Kurt Cobain saw none of this. He died by his own hand in 1994. Kurt Cobain led a complicated, often conflicted life. He died young, as so many do, living in the crazy world of Rock n’ Roll. But, in his wake, he left behind a catalogue of songs that stand among the best ever written and recorded. “About a Girl” was the first that Nirvana released.
The video for About A Girl can be found here.
Thank you to KEXP for inspiring me to do this blog series. The link to their live music website is here.
Thanks to Kurt Cobain and Nirvana for creating some of the best music of all-time. The link to their official website can be found here.