The groundbreaking Nirvana album Nevermind has turned 27-years-old, and it is still considered to be as relevant today as when it was released. The album was never supposed to change music for a generation, according to WAAF Radio. It was just supposed to sell around 500,000 copies if everything went right and maybe generate a little profit for everyone. After 27 years and over 30,000,000 copies sold, Nevermind is ranked as one of the greatest albums of all-time, according to Rolling Stone.
The album was all about changes. When recording began, they were on the Sub Pop label, but they finished it under DGC Records. Chad Channing was the drummer when the album began, but as labels changed, that did too, and Dave Grohl was recruited to finish the album out. He worked out so well that he became the new permanent drummer. He was the fifth since Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic formed the band, according to MTSU Sidelines.
They even changed producers, bringing in Butch Vig to help put the album together after all of the other smaller changes along the way. They changed how an entire genre of music was sold, as big chain stores such as Target and Walmart never carried any albums that would be considered punk before Nevermind came out. They, of course, wanted an edited version, but that they carried it all was a change at the time.
Some of the most memorable song lyrics, particularly to “Lithium,” were about his relationship with Tobi Vail and how things changed when they broke up. The music scene changed, as hair metal bands slowly drifted away and grunge bands became all the rage with labels fighting to sign any grunge-type band they could. It changed the music charts, knocking Michael Jackson and that era of pop music down a notch when they unseated his album Dangerous from the top spot, per College Media Network.
Matt Skiba of Blink-182 had specific memories of the changes he saw when Nevermind dropped that he shared with Alternative Nation.
“The first time I heard ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ I remember where I was – I was in high school, in my buddy’s car. It was exciting for music, I’m sure – punk-rock became a thing again, a huge thing. Not even again, for the first time like that. Even the Pistols and early punk-rock stuff – it wasn’t huge, it wasn’t being sold in Target or Walmart or whatever.”
Even the video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” changed things, as music videos took on a different look and feel, going darker yet still somehow whimsical, according to WAAF Radio. The video helped keep MTV relevant when they were drifting from music to reality programming for the first time. In turn, MTV put it into heavy rotation and helped drive album sales. “Come As You Are” and “In Bloom” rounded out the most successful singles on the album along with “Lithium” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
They released only one more studio album, In Utero, in 1993. Their MTV Unplugged session was also released as a full album in 1994, the same year Cobain took his own life at the age of 27. Grohl went on to form The Foo Fighters and play sessions with Probot and Audioslave among many others. Novoselic got into politics and formed a PAC. He played on and off with a few bands, including his latest one Giants In The Trees.
Today in 1991, Nirvana's Nevermind was released.— Eric Alper (@ThatEricAlper) September 24, 2018
It shipped 46,251 copies to stores, and the best estimate was that if all involved worked hard, the record could possibly sell 500,000.
Then Smells Like Teen Spirit was launched.
It has since sold 30 million copies worldwide. pic.twitter.com/9VURQUylYC
It has been said that Nevermind spawned a million garage bands, and while that number is probably high, it did get a few going at least. It opened the door wider for bands such as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice In Chains to have their breakthrough. Even if you couldn’t understand what specific words Cobain was singing, it was evident he was singing with passion; and that sometimes unintelligible, but passionate voice, became the voice of a generation.