Teen Spirit: Nevermind at 30
On the 30th anniversary of the release of Nirvana’s album Nevermind, leading figures from music, literature, fashion, and activism reflect on the impact it had on their lives.
Presenter Douglas Coupland, author of Generation X, explores how his own work is entwined with the album’s history. In the early 90s, Douglas Coupland, like Nirvana, was at the vanguard of a new movement that valued individualism and freedom.
In 1991, the music industry had modest ambitions for a second album from Seattle three-piece rock group Nirvana. Little did they know. Opening with hit single Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nevermind was a politically radical, powerful package of pop and punk music that made the grunge genre world-famous. The album knocked Michael Jackson off the top of the US charts, eventually selling 30 million copies. It made Kurt Cobain an icon. Though released on a major label, the record redefined the notion of independent spirit for a generation.
Musician Bat For Lashes talks about processing troubling teenage experiences through her Nirvana fandom. Actor Zawe Ashton reveals that grunge directly inspired her character of Vod in sitcom Fresh Meat. Transgender activist Daniella Carter reflects on the ways the band defined her politics. Novelist Aaron Hamburger remembers how Kurt Cobain helped him come out as gay. Nevermind producer Butch Vig recalls the release changing his life overnight. Other contributors include poet Hanif Abdurraqib, author Deborah Levy, and musician and fashion expert Brix Smith. Meanwhile, a rare archive interview between Kurt Cobain and Jon Savage transports us back to the spirit of the time.
Finally, folk band The Unthanks perform an exclusive cover of Nevermind closer "Something In The Way".
Producer: Jack Howson
Additional Production: Tess Davidson and Silvia Malnati
Sound Mix: Mike Woolley
A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4