By Ray McDonald
I want to tell you a little story. It’s about a band from Aberdeen, Washington called Nirvana. Active for only seven years, the trio released three studio albums. Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, and Krist Novoselic revolutionized rock with their album Nevermind and sold tens of millions of records before breaking up in the most painful way imaginable. Kurt Cobain committed suicide on April 5, 1994 at age 27, instantly ending the band.
Many of you know Nirvana well, but many don’t – and here’s where my story actually begins. This week, a mascot for Virginia Tech university sent this letter to Nirvana’s record label, Sub Pop Records, requesting a shout-out from the band. How you react depends upon several factors – including whether you’re able to maintain a sense of humor about the inexorable passage of time. This young person has likely never used a typewriter, never loaded film in a camera, or for that matter, may not have used a camera at all – you can do it all with a mobile phone. (Of course, the student could also have used that smartphone to Google “Nirvana”…) 1994 may just as well be the Dark Ages for today’s college students – although for me, the memory of Kurt’s death is painfully fresh.
How did Sub Pop respond? Pretty well, if you ask me. The response was nicely sardonic without being scornful – and it was nice to see Mark Arm, a fellow rock “fossil” from the long-ago era of grunge. The student’s ecstatic response was icing on the cake.