In the Beginning

Tom Mullen (, Legacy Recordings) on Nevermind

Nirvana, 'Nevermind' (DGC, 1991)

The first album I bought was Nirvana's Nevermind.

Seeing the video for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" in the early '90s changed my life in more ways than one. I remember staring at the TV in my basement as the song finished and just thinking that I had to play guitar immediately. I didn't have a guitar, know how to play or the money to buy one. Running upstairs to my Dad, I begged him to take me to the store in town to let me look and try some guitars out. A couple weeks later I bought a Yamaha guitar model #SE211 off a classmate, with a locking tremolo. For you nerds out there, I could whammy with the best of them.

Nevermind also changed the way I saw and learned about music. Nirvana talked about all these indie rock bands I never heard of in interviews, or with their band shirts, and even diving into the label Sub Pop. It got me to look at the dial on the radio and turn left to the college stations versus the Top 40 or rock stations in the market. I would religiously listen to the local college radio station WRUV in my home town of Burlington, VT. In addition, during high school I started going to punk/hardcore shows in the area and started to learn about the NYC, Boston and DC scenes and record labels that would venture up north to Vermont. I didn't see a Top 40 artist in person until I went to college down south.

Finally, the album was memorable because I bought it in New Hampshire. Doesn't sound that memorable, I know, but the reason my family stopped in New Hampshire on the way home from my grandparents was because there is no sales tax. What dad doesn't love shopping at a department/electronics store with no sales tax? Exactly. I found the CD and at that time, CDs were sold in long cardboard boxes. I don't remember how much it was but I bet it was $18.99 or something insane like that.

My most vivid memory of that day was the drive home. My mom, being completely oblivious at the time, asked point blank: "Did you buy that because of the penis on the front?" I think I then scowled or went into my teenager sullen mood act, but I soon relaxed. I had the album in my grasp, just another 3+ hours home until I could hear it and for it to soon change my life.