Friday, July 22, 2011

If the 60s Were the 90s

That's the title of a Beautiful People song I've never heard, but it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately. This September marks the 20 year anniversary of the release of Nirvana's Nevermind, for one thing. Spin released a collection of covers, and listening to them I was reminded how revolutionary that album felt at the time. A lot of the things they were singing about: feminism, atheism, questioning masculinity, kissing each other in public - those were simply not done in 1991. There weren't mainstream artists promoting gay rights or singing "Never met a wise man/if so it's a woman." Nirvana opened a lot of doors, and Nevermind remains a classic album. I don't listen to it much today, but "In Bloom" remains one of my favorite songs of all time.

My sister pointed out to me recently that the 90s are to kids today what the sixties were to us as kids: an era twenty years back that we felt no real connection to. Strange to think of it like that.

I've been listening to and writing a review for Wugazi, a mash-up Cecil Otter and Swiss Andy did of Fugazi instrumentals and Wu-Tang acappellas. Which made me go back into my Fugazi records. Especially Steady Diet of Nothing, their 1991 release. Also 20 years old. It was less punk and aggro than their earlier releases, and at the time I found it a little boring, but I love it now. "Reclamation" remains one of my favorite songs, presumably about the abortion debate. "You will carry out your noble actions - we will carry our noble scars."

I'll probably mention this in my review, but listening to the Wugazi album, I was struck by the different approaches each group took to making raw, aggressive music. The Wu took a "fuck all y'all" attitude, reacting, while Fugazi were much more empathetic and sensitive. The Fugazi vocals sound positively wimpy compared to the rough, rugged, and raw delivery of the Wu.

Exhibit A: "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'" (from whence the title of this blog comes):

And still, I relate more to Fugazi than to the Wu-Tang clan, at least in terms of the emotions they are delivering. No doubt because I have more in common with Fugazi than the Wu - middle class white guy and all.

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