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Business Spectacle: Lilys Hair Studio (video)
Business Spectacle: Lily's Hair Studio (video)
October 26, 2023

My love for the Seattle sound

Marli Field
A lover of physical media, staff writer Marli Field has collected plenty of grunge memorabilia over the years including books, band merch and vinyls. Music is a defining part of Field’s life, and her history with grunge music has changed the way she views the art form forever.

It was 2017, I was 9, and grunge had been dead for 20 years. 

I was laying on the carpeted floor of my home in Mansfield, studying for my elementary school’s spelling bee. 

I sat there, dying of boredom, as the words began to blur together on the paper in front of me, and I was looking for any sort of distraction. 

That is when the YouTube video mix my father had set up on our television began to play a song that would change everything for me; “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. 

As soon as Dave Grohl began the iconic drum intro, the one that caught the attention of a generation, I too, decades later, was drawn into the world of grunge. My love for the genre became a defining factor of who I was, and the woman I am still becoming.

Grunge is categorized as a type of alternative rock with roots in earlier subgenres such as punk rock and indie rock. Formed mainly in the rainy towns of the Pacific Northwest, most notably Seattle, it is a subculture born from a region’s experience with economic hardship, depression, and addiction. Unlike the glam rock of the 1980s, grunge musicians wanted nothing to do with the romanticized look at rock music and society popularized in the generation before, a nod to the politically charged music which inspired them.

While many of the genre’s most iconic musicians don’t agree with the word used identify them, the idea of “grunge” matches perfectly with the community it represents; the use of grimey vocals and muddled instrumentals, nonchalant attitudes, and a passion for lyrics with notes of anger, sadness, and social commentary.

There was a wide range of bands to choose from, but Nirvana became my spark, and was my gateway to a lifelong love for music. After my first experience with “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” I became obsessed with the history of the band, especially with the life of lead singer Kurt Cobain. 

From his humble beginnings in Aberdeen, Wash. with Nirvana co-founder and bassist Krist Novoselic, to his isolated death in his Seattle home in April 1994, I was fascinated with the musician. 

Labeled as a brooding, tortured, front-man, Cobain was different from a majority of singers I was exposed to in the 2010s, and changed the way I viewed musicians forever. Unlike other popular figures in music at that time in my life, such as Katy Perry or Bruno Mars, he showed me you didn’t need to have colorful sets, dance numbers, or costume changes to possess a magnetic stage presence. 

My new found love for this raw sort of performing led to my exploration of other grunge bands, such as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. These bands, though all different in style, lyricism, and popularity, had one thing in common; an ability to create songs jam-packed with intense emotions and unique energy, that was so different from the other artists of my childhood. 

Through grunge, I found a passion for pop culture. No longer was just the sound of a song important, but the significance of the lyrics, the writers, and the history. This love is something I still have today, and get the opportunity to discuss as a writer. What started with Nirvana grew to include the broader alternative rock genre, with groups like Veruca Salt, Blind Melon, Smashing Pumpkins, Jane’s Addiction and the Pixies. However, that raw sound and strong bass was something I still looked for in music, regardless of the genre. I often say for me to like a song, I have to be able to feel it in my heart, whether by the sheer loudness of it, or the emotions it makes me feel. 

Grunge has also helped me realize what I want from my future. After visiting Seattle a few years ago, a trip to the Museum of Pop Culture’s Nirvana exhibit made me realize that I wanted to dedicate my life to preserving art in all forms, as a museum curator. I hope one day I can create an exhibition that moves and inspires people the way I was by that room.

My exploration into grunge led me on a path of musical discovery, and a desire for music that made me feel the same way it did, alive. That hunger is something still within me now, and while the genre is not something I find myself listening to all the time anymore, I know I will always be listening for the Seattle sound, because it will forever sound like home. 

Follow @CHSCampusNews and Marli Field (@marli_field) on X.

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Marli Field
Marli Field, Staff Writer

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