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10 Essential Nirvana Songs

Monday, February 20: 5:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Kurt Cobain (album art from Nirvana's 1989 album Bleach)

Kurt Cobain was born on February 20, 1967, in Aberdeen, Washington. The songwriter/guitarist emerged from the nascent grunge movement of the early 80s – an alternative sub genre that incorporated elements of indie, punk, hardcore and heavy metal – to become the reluctant "voice of a generation." As the frontman for Nirvana, Cobain's esoteric lyrics and ability to craft indelible hooks with a uniquely metallic resonance fueled the band. Backed by the core of Krist Novoselic's steady bass and the thundering percussion of Dave Grohl, Cobain's songs almost single-handedly changed not only the musical landscape of the 1990s, but also the cultural landscape. Released in 1991, Nirvana's second album, Nevermind, was a landmark recording, bringing once-alternative sounds to the mainstream and tuning the world in to a Seattle scene that had gone largely unheard to that point. Nirvana led a charge that unseated the hedonistic values, flamboyant acts and slick production of hair metal at the top of the rock throne and replaced it with less scripted, more dynamic arrangements, introspective lyrics and more universally identifiable, laid-back style – including a flannel-clad fashion prerogative that was soon adopted from coast to coast, seen everywhere from dive bars ...


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Women Who Rock: 10 Essential Punk Songs

Monday, January 30: 5 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Siouxsie Sioux

Many women found a new voice and musical identity during the punk-rock explosion of the Seventies. The anti-establishment philosophy of the punk rock movement was the perfect fit for those female musicians who still felt like outsiders in the male-dominated music industry. Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth said, “I think women are natural anarchists, because you're always operating in a male framework.” Patti Smith paved the way at legendary punk venue CBGB in New York City with her fusion of experimental poetry and garage rock. British female punk rockers, such as the Slits, Raincoats, Siouxsie and the Banshees and X-Ray Spex responded to working-class discontent and racial division in Britain. Across the Atlantic, in the United States, musicians including Deborah Harry of Blondie, Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads and Poison Ivy of the Cramps added new sounds and ideas to the punk rock formula. “That was the beauty of the punk thing: [sexual] discrimination didn’t exist in that scene,” once noted Chrissie Hynde. Here the Rock Hall presents Women Who Rock: 10 Essential Punk Songs. 

1. Patti Smith – "Piss Factory"

Patti Smith was dubbed the "godmother of punk," a moniker with merit. Smith's debut single was ...


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Twenty years after 'Nevermind:' Memories of Nirvana's hits

Friday, September 23: 4:59 p.m.
Posted by Kathryn Metz
Nirvana's album 'Nevermind' was released on September 24, 1991.

Tomorrow, September 24th, marks the 20th anniversary of rock band Nirvana’s release of Nevermind. Widely credited for bringing the Seattle grunge and music scene to the mainstream masses, the album has since sold nearly 30 million copies worldwide. Kathryn Metz, education instructor at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, recounts hearing songs from Nevermind for the first time and shares how the album continues to influence two decades later.

Let’s be clear: I was a band geek for a long time. In some senses, I’m still that gangly kid who is all too familiar with Sousa repertoire and Mozart sonatas; I played the flute for 20-plus years. Raised on “oldies” and musicals, my parents always had a Rolling Stones, Supremes or West Side Story song on the record player. I learned how to play “As Long as He Needs Me” and “When I’m 64” with equal fluency as a Hindemith or Telemann sonata. On my own time, I religiously listened to Casey Kasem’s Top 40 every Saturday morning, memorizing Janet Jackson and Kriss Kross songs. Occasionally, however, something else would bubble to the surface and pique my curiosity, tugging at another part ...


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