- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 05 October 2016
- Written by ALLISON PERRINE | ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
Students and faculty gathered in the theater with three expert panelists to discuss Nirvana’s groundbreaking album, Nevermind as part of the Tuesday Night Record Club on Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m in Woods Memorial Theatre.
“It’s like a book club, but with albums,” said Bob Santelli, Executive Director of the GRAMMY Museum and University alumnus. The University’s student-run record label, Blue Hawk Records hosted its first ever “Record Club” event. Here, music lovers gathered to discuss and review albums of the past; the first review was Nirvana’s famous album Nevermind. Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Kenneth Womack, Ph.D., said that the idea came from Santelli.
Three panelists sat in front of a crowd of about 60 people : the first panelist being Aaron Furgason, Chair of the Department of Communication. Kim Zide Davis, was the second panelist, Manager for Pantera & Estate of “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott and the third panelist was Rich Robinson, Program Director/On-air Personality 90.5 The Night.
The night kicked off with a review of popular songs in the late 1980s prior to Nirvana’s big break. Furgason described various sounds that were typical of the 80s, including Jon Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” Essentially, these songs were ones with big, powerful drums and “synths” (synthesizers). Oh, and performers with big, untamed hair.
The panelists agreed that no one really thought Nirvana was going to be as big as it was until it happened. “Nirvana pressed about 50,000 copies of Nevermind and next thing you know they sold 5 million copies,” said Furgason, as he explained the issue bands faced when they decided how many records to press initially. Bands would lose money if they pressed more albums than they sold, but this was clearly not an issue for this popular 90s band.
“Music had gone somewhat stale,” said Zide Davis. “We went from N.W.A. to Mariah Carey and something was missing. Nirvana filled that void.”
One of Nirvana’s most talked-about and popular songs of both the night and on the charts was “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Some of the words and lyrics in the song are hard to understand, which was brought up by a few audience members, but it still turned out to be one of the most popular songs the band released. “I think it’s cool,” Robinson said in reference to the song’s hard-to-interpret lyrics. “You can almost come up with your own meaning for it.” Furgason added that in this particular song, the strong drums are what draws him in.
One of the great parts about the album is that not all of the songs sound alike. “Nirvana has a different sound in every song,” said Robinson. He added that just as people have ups and downs, sad moments and happy ones, Nirvana has a sound to match those feelings. The album is like a life and it has a different feel for different moods, which helps keep the album relevant and timeless.
This is why we still listen to Nirvana today. An 18-year-old audience member raised her hand and asked why Nirvana is still relevant today and the band’s timelessness was brought up again. “It’s good music and it’s timeless,” said Zide Davis.
Gina Priore, a sophomore and communications student, said that she enjoyed the event. “It was pretty interesting to hear about. I’d never really listened to Nirvana but decided to stop by. I liked hearing what people so engrossed in the music-world had to say about it.”
Duane Dietz, 44, heard about the event and decided to stop by. “I find that they’re just a fascinating band. I mean, music was bad before this. There were things like the Ramones, the Smiths; it was all there but nothing in the mainstream. …Everything on MTV was dreadful.” Dietz added that his favorite Nirvana song is “Breed,” because “it just hits you like a ton of bricks.”
If you missed the first Record Club album discussion, there will be more to come. The next review will be of Bob Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 25 in Woods Theatre. There will also be reviews of Blondie’s Parallel Lines, The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska over the course of the year.
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