Nirvana

From: Aberdeen, Washington

Active: 1988-1994

I first heard them: on Live 105, which played "Smells Like Teen Spirit" at least half a dozen times just in the time it took to get to the 1991 Big Game and back

Sound: Insanely catchy pop songwriting, married to guitars and drums that sounded like the beginning and ending of the world at the same time, by someone in genuine torment just like you. But Nirvana had one other quality on top of all that: immediacy. Imagine that instead of talking about listening to music we were talking about looking at a tree. Some bands sound like looking at the tree in a gorgeously shot Imax movie; some sound like looking at it on a crummy 1970s TV set; some sound like an oil painting of the tree, some like a crayon drawing, some like a cutting-edge CGI render. To me, Nirvana sounded like I was looking at the tree with my own eyes.

Further listening: For twenty years I would have told you Nirvana was my favorite band, and depending on the mood I'm in, on any given day I still might. This "further listening" section could therefore be arbitrarily long. So for the sake of having a criterion to winnow it down a bit, here are a few songs that have featured on my chart at some point in the past decade or so.

"School" (1989)
"Aneurysm (Incesticide version)" (1992)
"Verse Chorus Verse" (1993)
"Where Did You Sleep Last Night" (1993)