1989: Charts Mean Nothing (1)

It’s about Bleach.


Did I spend my youth numb?

I remember laughing at The Young Ones and Blackadder.  I remember laughing in role-playing games.  But I mostly remember music.  I think music poured into me and filled me up.  Every emotion I felt but seemed stuck in my throat could come out of me, or go into me through music, and some music was better than other kinds.  When I was very young, when I was 13 or 14, it was synthy sugar; when I was 15 or 16 it was rock.  I was a glutton.  I am a glutton.  Sometimes I have self control, but then I binge.  I fling the glistening, fried chunks of music down like hot, salty nuggets at 2am after a few too many drinks.  Give me the next one.  Give me the next one.

It started with Prince.  It moved to Guns’n’Roses.  It faltered slightly, and then burst into bountiful love with Grunge,

1989 was the year Bleach was released.  Bleach which I never heard in 1989 but which is a glorious, clobbering, hurting foundation of everything I would come to love.  If there was one survivor we needed, one person saved from the wreckage of Grunge, it would be Kurt.  He deserved a way out of the pain.  He deserved to have the music save him not contribute to the killing of him.

Nothing lasts.  Not even the foyer of the movie theatre where E told me that Kurt had killed himself.  Even that tatty, faded, chipped gold, cracked glass, stained red velvet, pop corn smelling foyer couldn’t last.  It was knocked about to make a French cooking school.  When that closes it will be something else.  I couldn’t last either – that version of me – or her (E) in that version of her, or whatever else was happening or existed that moment she told me he was dead and I didn’t believe her, and thought I didn’t care.

It felt right.  His music felt like my skin.  No.  Like my guts.  My bowels.  Sludgy, thumping riffs, and sudden lurching, discordant squeals.  Frustrated.  That’s what it sounded like.  Like a huge frustrated force contained sometimes, and finding release sometimes.  No way out in this music except that the music might be the way out.  Every song a catharsis but never getting catharsis.

School.  Live at the Pine Street Theatre.  “Wouldn’t you believe it; it’s just my luck. No recess.”  The whole entire lyrics of that great song which starts with a classic hard rock riff, and delivers in Kurt’s howled: “No recess”.  Everything about this = right.  It’s the hardcore version of teenage life / which means perfect because a certain kind of teenage emotion is always dialed up to hardcore.  It’s not: “huh, bummer – recess is cancelled”, its “NO RECESS!!!!!” (cataclysmic shredding of the canteen ensues).  Which is bathos but also “deep in my feelings” right.  Like The Smiths but vomiting distortion all over your ears.

1989 is the year Enya rode high in the saddle (of the candy floss unicorn) with Orinoco Flow.  And this – meanwhile – was sort of dragged along by its booted foot stuck in a stirrup as the horse ambled through the cactus fields.  Who knew it would lead to:

Ahh.  Fuck.

Radio Friendly Unit Shifter.

I don’t like chit chat.  I don’t think life will work out ok, on the whole.  “What is wrong with me?”

Kurt sounded like a raw wound, and I miss him.

Him?  Me.



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I wrote a book called Kaitiaki o te Pō