100 Greatest Songs of the 90’s #4 Nirvana – All of Nevermind

Released : 1991

There is an absurdity to compiling lists like this which is hard to deny. Humans don’t create art with the purpose of then having it compared to something else. Art isn’t designed for objectivity, or to be functional, or to be benchmarked against a peer group like some kind of conformist medical study.

That said when it came to compiling something focused on music from the 1990’s – at least one trying not to commit the error of being too niche – the inclusion of a song by Nirvana was inevitable. On merit, or because they were huge?, take your pick. Certainly it’s impossible to find another example of a band where fame mushroomed so quickly, or one that took such ostensibly underground aesthetics and then grafted them onto the tottering stack of late 20th century culture.

A big slice of Nevermind‘s enduring fascination is the paradoxical attitude to success and stardom of it’s chief architect. Here was a man writing his own one way ticket to the dark side of human nature, our self destructive gift the obsessive pursuit of something heedless of the consequences. For Kurt Cobain, it’s release was the catalyst for fame and fortune that engulfed him like a tsunami, altered circumstances he found out were too corrosive for his fragile personality much too late.

Thus if most lists are essentially futile, so is picking one song from Nevermind which should hold the phony status of it’s best. Or In Cobain’s own words, ‘We have no right to express an opinion unless we have all of the answers.’