Pinklightsabre announces call for content, 90s nostalgia theme

A dog barked, a toddler spoke, the lake lapped and the wind chimes came, the breeze through the trees made a sound like dried corn husks. The light is different, we had the heat on in the car this morning and now the porch lamp on, the bees take what’s left from the garden. No one’s watching the fire I built, it burns down to a bed of coals I mourn for, a bit miffed no one’s acknowledged my efforts — they’ve all gone inside for bedtime rituals and wind-downs, and mom suggested we should go back to Ireland for Christmas this year, was selling it in her mom way on the phone but I said no, we need a Christmas at home, and going back would be like trying to relive something, it has that monkey paw quality of trying to wish back the past that always comes with a price.

They’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Nirvana breakthrough album Nevermind next week (it came out September 24, 1991) and soliciting stories they’ll read on the radio from listeners, but all I’ve got is three single men in college sitting on the floor around a board game doing bad things to our heads, smoking cigarettes, going down the canals of the record and coming up the other side, trying to decide what to put on next when it’s through but stymied to find something worthy, like that mistake the Rolling Stones made when they let James Brown open for them one time, and never again.

It was really only that record for me that was so special with Nirvana, like the best records it was fixed in a time and location with a band that was coming into their own, who would only be judged or measured for how their music stood up to that album (which sucks, it’s impossible to remake or repeat something like that, no fun trying to sound the way you used to).

In September of ’98 we drove from France to Morocco and rented a place in the old souk in Marrakesh down some narrow alleyways where you really had to memorize when to turn, like a labyrinth, and our first night Laurent and I went looking for hash and found a few teenagers who could help, and we spoke French and Laurent said I was from Seattle — they clamored Chantez, chantez, s’il vous-plait!, but I didn’t understand — and Laurent giggled and said Zay want you to sing — they wanted to hear Nirvana, because they couldn’t in Morocco I guess, and I sang what I could from “Come As You Are,” they closed their eyes and grinned, and I wore an Arabic-looking robe I got from J. Peterman, and grew my first beard.

Laurent and my mom drank tea and smoked on the rooftop as the sun set and turned everything pink, but I got sick from the orange juice and couldn’t get out of bed, pinned down delirious with rust colored urine that had my blood in it, and on the drive back up the Spanish coast I sat in the back of the car with Laurent, the chameleons John insisted we take back to France but died, the lanterns and scarves and all the other crap we bought in the souk, robes I still have out in the garage: John and I both on anti-diarrhea medicine, stopping at a Chinese restaurant in Spain that didn’t help.

By the time I got to Seattle it was ’96 and the grunge scene had obviously changed, Pearl Jam playing arenas, I never did see Nirvana. Like the best neighborhoods, it was the same with the music: developers cash in and capitalize on anything the artists have the guts and nerve to discover themselves, and then it all gets ruined and looks or sounds the same as everything else.

International District, Seattle

International District, Seattle

But what about you? In the spirit of our local radio station KEXP, I wanted to elicit stories about your experience either with Nirvana, 90s music, or the topic of nostalgia itself. This is also a good excuse for me to recognize my favorite readers and writers (some of whom have books for sale!), to feature your stories and other voices on my blog.

I hope you’ll participate, and see below for suggestions:

  • 100 – 1,500 words
  • How Nirvana (or another 90s band) impacted you, through a sense memory or story
  • What you think made Nirvana special, or Kurt Cobain
  • What makes you nostalgic and why (on any topic, doesn’t have to be music)
  • Include videos you’d like to share (or photos!)
  • Bonus for use of the word zeitgeist
  • Submit through my About contact form or email at pinklightsabre AT gmail DOT com
  • No judging, only sharing
  • No deadline, come as you are

I’ll feature submissions over the coming days and let you know before yours is published. And if you like, I’ll make a custom Dropbox playlist for you as a thanks for participating.

Take your time, hurry up, the choice is yours, don’t be late.

First known recording of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”:

About pinklightsabre

William Pearse publishes memoir, travel journals, poetry and prose, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
This entry was posted in music, musings, travel, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Pinklightsabre announces call for content, 90s nostalgia theme

  1. byebyebeer says:

    My favorite part about this post is the visual of the kids listening to you sing with their eyes closed, grinning. Perfect. I like your challenge too and will think if I have anything worthwhile to contribute. I can think of stories involving but not centered around 90s music. It was background to drinking and drugs, etc. I also like the line about sitting around a board game and doing bad things to your head. I fear I wasted at least a whole summer that way.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Cool, thanks Kristen — I’m sure you have something there in the ol’ coffers, eh?! I was about to turn 21 when that record came out, I realized last night. 21, at last! (Lyrics to a great Guided by Voices song about the military and drinking, “21 is the legal age to kill yourself slowly / 18 is the legal age to die”. Maybe better in its own context.)

      I’m intrigued by how disassociated I feel from things I’ve done in the past, when I try to picture myself doing things like Ebeneezer Scrooge looking down maybe, watching myself. Thanks for reading and enjoy your day! Bill

      Like

      • byebyebeer says:

        I so understand what you mean. And yesterday I’d started writing something about a particular summer and realize now the period I would (yes, will) write about is the summer after that. I’m not sure what it all means but it’s important damnit. You have a great day and weekend too!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Each time I read your blog a new little bit of your adventurous life pops out, “That time I was on the moon with Neil Armstrong…” Love the story of singing Nirvana in Morocco. What a great project.

    Liked by 2 people

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Yeah, I hope you’ll submit something if you can Jon — about that time you went to Mars, or what have you. Thanks for the kind words 🙂 — I’ve told this one before but I try retelling them at times, too. It’s like that story your grandfather keeps telling (or that was my grandfather, at least). Bill

      Like

  3. amcmulin914 says:

    Taught ten year old me it was okay to scream. And also seems this foreboding ode declaring “holy shit are we in for it now”! Innocence aint lost, it’s tatted up, outside, in a checkered torn flannel smoking Marlboro reds, with steel toed shoes and pink hair. Old school had psychedelic gods drifting away in bathtubs of sacred waters, where we were going rockstars would stick shotguns in their mouth and paint the walls with their graffiti, entertain us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Ten year old me…I never went by the house, but I understand they lived in the same neighborhood as the Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, what an odd pairing that is to imagine them as neighbors. I’d love if someone went deep on the entertainment theme with Cobain (perhaps someone already has in all that’s been written about him). I’d like to read a blogger/writer’s perspective on that, though. He really pre-wrote that anger/angst that took him down I think, with those lyrics. I’m glad you included that line — it was the original title I had for this post.
      I remember shopping in record stores in the early 90s and they didn’t know what to do with those CDs by Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, so they put them in with Guns n’ Roses and AC/DC…we were along the seam between really diverging styles then, about all they had in common was the guitars and the screams.

      Liked by 1 person

      • amcmulin914 says:

        That idea of writing himself into his role is so true. It’s interesting how in situations like that you just want to reach out, have a cup of a coffee with the dude, tell him he’s all right, just slow down, do a retreat or something. But what I think happens is in life you met people like that, if you’re kind hearted you might even try to help, but ultimately there’s nothing you can do “because everyone’s on their own journey, blah, blah, blah.”

        But I knew this guy like that, High School friend, just knew he would end up dead, drugged up. Years went by, no contact, saw him at a random concert, could feel death wrapped around him, said it that night, it was palpable, creepy, like a black cloud just hovering there, gave me the willies. Few month later, he was dead, opiate overdose. Not trying to be a downer, just pointing out that this cultural nihilism we experience now really was spawned, energized by anti-heroes like this. Junkie-chic and all that. Pearl Jam and Sound Garden were dark, and dramatic as all hell too. Superunkown was in my original CD collection, probably right next to the Lion King soundtrack and Ace of Base. What a shift that is on the surface, everything makes sense though underground tho.

        Ah nostalgia, fourteen, back from summercamp, had an undiagnosed broken collerbone for the last 24hours, goofy nurse made me grind my shoulder, rotate it 360 degrees over and over again, gave me a couple tylenol, worst night of delirium ever, got home after trip to emergency room, Mom bought me new Rob Zombie CD, with that “More human then a human” song on it, can see it clear, sitting there listening to it on headphones, shirtless with that bra thing on for the collarbone…fuck man…good times

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      • pinklightsabre says:

        That’s a super vignette and side dish, the guy you saw at the show with death wrapped around him. You get a sense for that over time, comes with life experience and reading people. We all probably have a story like that (though I’m grateful you shared yours). And the anti-hero thing, I hadn’t thought it like that. I think Soundgarden ‘doubled down’ on trying to make it with that record and it was OK, but not as good as the earlier ones. I shouldn’t talk here because I’m out of my category, didn’t go as deep with them. Just happened to hear ‘Jesus Christ Pose’ on the radio though yesterday and holy crap, nothing on Superunknown like that. I had that record too…nice insights as always Austin, you make some good sketches here man. (Soundgarden is a name of a sculpture here in the Seattle area by a body of water, truly makes a ‘garden of sound’ when the wind comes through. Haven’t been there since 9/11 because it’s also on government land, or near it, by the NOAA office, so they have it cordoned off, or did, for fear of terrorist activity, sad.)

        Like

  4. Great idea, soliciting stuff on ’90s nostalgia. It’s funny how, because of what was going on with me when Nevermind came out, I totally missed the Nirvana boat. Always behind the curve! I did just read Carrie Brownstein’s memoir on Sleater-Kinney and realized I missed a lot of good stuff in general. Thank God for Spotify!

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      I miss the boat all the time. I didn’t with grunge, though, I guess I was lucky with that but it didn’t hold for me more than a few years (still a long time I guess). Bands like the Screaming Trees and Mudhoney, on their early records, really throw back to late 60s American garage rock. It’s cool to hear that — I think I’ll play some in my garage later, a Screaming Trees on SST now out of print. That Mark Lanegan guy is an amazing singer, if you haven’t heard him — on Sleater-Kinney I always think of them driving south, past Olympia — I was a huge fan of the K records scene out of there with Calvin Johnson from Beat Happening. I had a musician friend see them who didn’t understand what was going on with their act. He said the singer couldn’t sing, the drummer couldn’t drum, and there wasn’t any bass. That’s kind of it.

      Like

      • Thanks for the referral to Lanegan. Just listened to “Nearly Lost You” and liked! I hear some Cobain in his voice, but then he preceded Nirvana, didn’t he, so.

        It is interesting that S-K didn’t have a bass, but when I listen to them I think I hear an effect that must produce bass tones from the guitar(s). Or my ears are shot.

        I just recorded a bass part without a bass using the Deep Vocal effect on Garageband, and it sounds pretty dope!

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        I’m glad you looked into Mark Lanegan — that song there’s a great intro. It was featured on a film soundtrack trying to capitalize on the coolness of the grunge scene here, then. That was their last record and surely should have/could have been bigger by the sounds of it (real good ballads etc. + his voice I find so lovely and deep) — but he’s made probably a better career for himself solo, with many releases since then. They’re from Bellingham, north of Seattle. Your playing around with Garageband sounds fun, dope yo’! Thanks for sharing, glad you dipped into that a bit. Bill

        Like

  5. calijones says:

    I was a bit younger at the time and found Nirvana through Weird Al’s parody of Smells Like Teen Spirit. It started my whole pre-teen foray into the rest of 90’s grunge! Thanks Weird Al!

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      God bless Weird Al. My kids found their way to Michael Jackson through him, I think. A modern day Mr. Rogers (?!) of sorts — that’s cool Cali, thanks for sharing and so good to hear from you. Represent UK style! Hope you’re well. Bill

      Like

  6. walt walker says:

    There, that, yes, you see? That clip of Nirvana, that you posted, I’m pointing at that and going, you see? Like I’m my own half-senile grandmother, pointing out to me something I just pointed out to her. That’s what I’m talking about. That almost sucked. Maybe not almost. At moments it was very bad. The only reason it didn’t completely suck is we know what it became. They figured it out. That solo was god awful. The verses weren’t much better. But they polished that shit up and made it so good and so effing memorable and of the moment. That’s the raw crap that got fixed in the editing but — and here’s the thing — but got fixed without losing its rawness. The final cut is polished but raw. They fixed it without effing it up. They made it better but didn’t kill it in the edit. I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      I love your comment man, that was for you, intended as an email but turned into this. Glad you were able to check that out and hoping you’ll submit me a story you!

      Like

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  8. kingmidget says:

    Interesting idea and offer. I think I may try something. Unfortunately, it likely won’t involve Nirvana. I was more of a Pearl Jam fan. Never really got into Nirvana.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      I’d love if you did Mark! I get the difference between those bands (at least my interpretation of the difference). They really were quite different…I like the fact Pearl Jam still lives in the neighborhood here in West Seattle (Eddie’s kid/kids go to the same private school my friends’ kids do), and you can sometimes see Chris Cornell pumping gas at the 76. Now there I go romanticizing this, I shouldn’t.
      Would love to hear your story, though — take your time, hurry up, the choice is yours…don’t be late. (Sorry.) Thanks for reading and writing, work something up for us! Bill

      Liked by 1 person

      • kingmidget says:

        The reality is that Pearl Jam’s first album is on my list of top five albums of all time. You know, the list that really has something like 25 albums on it. (Just the fact that I refer to it as an album shows how nostalgic I am.) Nothing they have done since that first album comes close in my mind. But that first album…

        Liked by 1 person

      • pinklightsabre says:

        I agree, and I loved the MTV unplugged version I recall of “Porch.”

        Liked by 1 person

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  11. rossmurray1 says:

    Then 90s didn’t for me, so naturally I have lots to say about it. À bientôt.

    Like

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  13. may hem says:

    For what it’s worth, here’s my contribution: https://jotnrot.wordpress.com/2016/05/13/rant-from-the-underground/
    I wrote this a while back when two events coincided. One was an article slamming gen Xers for selling out the 60s (boomer) ideals and opting for silicon valley riches and comforts. The other was catching my 18yr old son listening to pennyroyal tea and talking about my years tree planting on the west coast (yes, for the money to pay back my student loans, not my carbon footprint). Nostalgia implies a simpler purer time, without consciousness of the machinations already prescribing what will be cyphoned from our experience and exploited. And as Nirvana’s music predicted, we would not be afforded that luxury. Hence my rant.
    BTW, great idea. Love reading these posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      I’d like to hear more about the scene of you with your son, Pennyroyal Tea, and the tree planting on the west coast. If you’d like to send me a story on that, I’ll keep this running for a few more days or so (I have stories scheduled through Wednesday this week). I went back and listened to In Utero last night and found, like so many things, I was too quick in my judgment of the record. I insisted Nevermind was the one for me, but In Utero, can’t really shake a dead cat at that either. For me, the funny lesson is how we shut down once we think we know something. It’s a lot easier that way of course. I enjoyed the poem a lot and hope others go visit. Thanks and great to hear from you lady! Bill

      Like

      • may hem says:

        I’m working on it but the story keeps digressing. Turning darker than I’d like. I’m getting at something…

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        I get that, the digression and the dark. My writing thing is now closed, but have a look at walt walker (waltbox): he just posted a call for October submissions yesterday. Perhaps your story will fit his guidelines and you could submit to him! Best of luck May, completing your story! — Bill

        Like

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  17. may hem says:

    I’m working on it, but the story keeps digressing, turing darker than I’d like. I’m getting at something…

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