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Music Ministry

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Christopher Konovalov
Christopher Konovalov

Nirvana Smells Like

When Cobain presented the song to his bandmates, it comprised just the main guitar riff and the chorus vocal melody.[6][7] Cobain said the riff was "clichéd", similar to a riff by Boston or the Richard Berry song "Louie Louie".[5] Bassist Krist Novoselic dismissed it as "ridiculous"; in response, Cobain made the band play it for an hour and a half.[5] Eventually, Novoselic began playing it more slowly, inspiring drummer Dave Grohl to create the drum beat,[8] which drew from disco artists like The Gap Band.[9] As a result, it is the only song on Nevermind to credit all three band members as writers.[10]

Nirvana Smells Like


The title derives from a phrase written on Cobain's wall by his friend Kathleen Hanna, singer of the riot grrrl band Bikini Kill: "Kurt smells like Teen Spirit."[11][12] Hanna meant that Cobain smelled like the deodorant Teen Spirit, which she and Tobi Vail, his then-girlfriend, had discovered during a trip to the grocery store.[13] Cobain said he was unaware of the deodorant until months after the single was released, and had interpreted it as a revolutionary slogan, as they had been discussing anarchism and punk rock.[14]

The single was intended to be a base-building alternative rock cut from the album, and was not expected to be a hit; the follow-up "Come as You Are" was planned as the single that could cross over to mainstream radio formats. However, campus and modern rock radio stations placed "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on heavy rotation. Danny Goldberg of Nirvana's management firm Gold Mountain said: "None of us heard it as a crossover song, but the public heard it and it was instantaneous ... They heard it on alternative radio, and then they rushed out like lemmings to buy it."[40]

Nirvana grew uncomfortable with the song's success and, in later concerts, often excluded it from the set list.[37] Prior to the release of the band's 1993 follow-up album In Utero, Novoselic remarked, "If it wasn't for 'Teen Spirit' I don't know how Nevermind would have done ... There are no 'Teen Spirits' on In Utero."[54] Cobain said in 1994, "I still like playing 'Teen Spirit', but it's almost an embarrassment to play it ... Everyone has focused on that song so much."[5]

Cobain disliked Bayer's final edit and oversaw a re-edit of the video, creating the final version.[47] One of Cobain's major additions was the penultimate shot, a close-up of his face after it had been obscured for most of the video.[59] Another major change involved two sequences of a principal standing next to a loudspeaker and being sprayed with confetti, and a teacher dressed like a nerd dancing to the song with a "Dunce" cap before being tied to a basketball hoop pole. Cobain had the principal footage and most of the teacher footage removed, aside from the ending scene which shows the teacher tied to the pole as the janitor sweeps the floor.[60] Bayer said that unlike subsequent artists he worked with, Cobain was not vain, and was more interested that "the video had something that was truly about what they were about".[55]

The music video received positive reviews. The Rolling Stone writer David Fricke described the video as looking like "the greatest gig you could ever imagine".[24] In addition to a number-one placing in the singles category, "Teen Spirit" also topped the music video category in the Village Voice's 1991 "Pazz & Jop" poll.[61] The video won Nirvana the Best New Artist and Best Alternative Group awards at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards,[62] and in 2000 the Guinness World Records named "Teen Spirit" the Most Played Video on MTV Europe.[63] Amy Finnerty, formerly of MTV's Programming department, later said the video "changed the entire look of MTV" by giving them "a whole new generation to sell to".[24]

Nirvana often altered the song's lyrics and tempo for live performances. Some live performances of the song had the line "our little group has always been" changed to "our little tribe has always been", which can be heard on the 1996 live album From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah. Rolling Stone remarked that the Wishkah version of "Teen Spirit" "[found] Cobain's guitar reeling outside the song's melodic boundaries and sparking new life in that nearly played-out hit".[74] A notable alternate performance of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" occurred on BBC's Top of the Pops in 1991, during which the band refused to mime to the pre-recorded backing track and Cobain sang in a deliberately low voice and altered numerous lyrics in the song (for example, "Load up on guns, bring your friends" became "Load up on drugs, kill your friends"). Cobain later said he was trying to sound like former Smiths frontman Morrissey.[75] When Top of the Pops was cancelled in 2006, The Observer listed Nirvana's performance of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" as the third greatest in the show's history.[76] This performance can be found on the 1994 home video Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!.[77]

"Smells Like Teen Spirit" became an unlikely hit. It wasn't a track designed to be marketable, or even accessible. Check out the pop charts in 1991, and you'll find artists like Paula Abdul, Color Me Badd and Mariah Carey all dominating the Top 20. It's the kind of music that parents could listen to with their kids.

Aside from it's inherent packaged-for-the-TV-masses mentality that a band like Nirvana would most likely find annoying anyway, Top of the Pops had another quirk that grated on performers desire for authenticity: TOTP's rule that bands HAD to use a backing track to sing over. There was no playing "live." (This rule used to be even more restrictive. Pre-1991, vocalists had to lip-sync to their songs. Everything was recorded.)

Patton's mockery was nothing compared to what Nirvana did a year later. Asked to come on and perform Smells Like Teen Spirit, after the single was selling like crazy in the UK and climbed to number 9 on the charts there, Nirvana methodically butchered their show.

The performance starts as the backing track begins and Kurt is strumming his guitar like Munch from the Chuck E. Cheese band. Bassist Krist Novoselic is swinging his axe over his head. Dave Grohl is putting the most reasonable act forward by at least sitting at his kit and pretending to play the drums.

Dead Original is the new hard rock trio w/ grunge undertones from Chicago, IL started by Paul Wandtke whom got his start in the music industry as a work for hire drummer over the years drumming for such acts as Trivium, Kill Hannah and even the hit musical Rock of Ages. Feeling inspired to pick up a guitar after always feeling like something was missing in life, he now fronts Dead Original with Joey Kus on drums and Mike Petrasek (Bedlem) on bass. Dead Original is a blend of grunge, groove power, simple riffs, melodic hooks and some progressive elements via some tastefully placed odd meters. Their motto and creed is #grungelives #makerockgreatagain #makegrungegreatagain

Other astronauts didn't get the hay fever. Or, at least, "they didn't admit it," laughs Schmitt. "Pilots think if they confess their symptoms, they'll be grounded." Unlike the other astronauts, Schmitt didn't have a test pilot background. He was a geologist and readily admitted to sniffles.

But they did react: "It is really a strong smell," radioed Apollo 16 pilot Charlie Duke. "It has that taste -- to me, [of] gunpowder -- and the smell of gunpowder, too." On the next mission, Apollo 17, Gene Cernan remarked, "smells like someone just fired a carbine in here."

What is moondust made of? Almost half is silicon dioxide glass created by meteoroids hitting the moon. These impacts, which have been going on for billions of years, fuse topsoil into glass and shatter the same into tiny pieces. Moondust is also rich in iron, calcium and magnesium bound up in minerals such as olivine and pyroxene. It's nothing like gunpowder.

"The moon is like a 4-billion-year-old desert," he says. "It's incredibly dry. When moondust comes in contact with moist air in a lunar module, you get the 'desert rain' effect--and some lovely odors." (For the record, he counts gunpowder as a lovely odor.)

Gary Lofgren has a related idea: "The gases 'evaporating' from the moondust might come from the solar wind." Unlike Earth, he explains, the moon is exposed to the hot wind of hydrogen, helium and other ions blowing away from the sun. These ions hit the moon's surface and get caught in the dust.

Another possibility is that moondust "burns" in the lunar lander's oxygen atmosphere. "Oxygen is very reactive," notes Lofgren, "and would readily combine with the dangling chemical bonds of the moondust." The process, called oxidation, is akin to burning. Although it happens too slowly for smoke or flames, the oxidation of moondust might produce an aroma like burnt gunpowder. (Note: Burnt and unburnt gunpowder do not smell the same. Apollo astronauts were specific. Moondust smells like burnt gunpowder.) 041b061a72


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