But at the end of the day, music becomes a personal journey that helps you crack through joy, melancholy, or whatever you may seek from it.
For me, that journey began with Nirvana.
At the dawn of a new decade, Nirvana’s Nevermind would revolutionise the idea of rock music and what we know as grunge. Topping Michael Jackson and ending his reign on the charts, the album 31 years later is still a dutiful screech of revolution and resistance.
Before Nevermind, alternative music was dedicated more directly to the name of it - it was an alternative option from mainstream music found in corner record shops - and Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s legacy stands in making it a louder voice that found its way to the likes of MTV.
In fact, I don’t think I would be wrong in saying that Cobain is grunge. There is not often an artist who is so firmly intertwined with a genre the way he is, and it’s for good reason. Even the way he dressed - the flannel, messy hair, slouchy pullovers - became an essential representation of grunge culture.
Don’t get me wrong - Nirvana isn’t where grunge was born, but it was definitely where it became a mainstream manifestation and significantly influential music and culture for generations to come.
Down to the music, Nevermind is a raw treasure that launched the legacy of Nirvana we know today. The marvel of the album lies with the experimental nature of Nirvana and how their road to success was paved by something completely different from what was known as mainstream music.
And, of course, you can’t talk about Nevermind without at least a nod to Smells Like Teen Spirit - which has become an anthem for the lost, angry and effervescent alike.
With this song as the start, Nevermind presents itself off-the-cuff as an explosion of raw energy - Cobain’s ranged voice takes you from a smoky bar setting to a throaty discharge of epic proportions in most of the songs - and the music fits as a playful acknowledgement of something you, the listener, know was written to be an anthem.
Then you have titles like Something in the Way that have consistent darkness. A slow, brooding soothe that places you in the blackest corners of your mind.
More than the culture and the music of Nevermind, Nirvana is also a standpoint for the ‘alternative’ of us to find a home with popularity.
Come As You Are is the most obvious choice of song when talking about this idea. On the feelings side of things, on the side of music that helps you become who you want to be, Come As You Are has become a symbol of authenticity for many people.
Although the song itself is essentially a comment on how people are expected to act, the rebellious nature of grunge and Nirvana spells it out clearly as one that slowly screams for realness to become more apparent in our lives - something we don’t often truly see.
And this was what Nirvana was about. The flannel, the intensity of Cobain’s story, the gift that is Dave Grohl - it wasn’t a fashion statement, it was a necessity.
The gift of Nevermind transcends what it did for music. Instead, we can look back to a way too short-lived legacy that will have an impact on the way we make music, the way we think and the people we want to be for decades to come.
As such, Nevermind can serve as a dedication to the memory of Kurt Cobain and how music can change the world. A real blessing on the minds of music aficionados and the regular man alike.