The first time I heard this song, I thought it actually sounded a little old-fashioned, like something I would have picked up on in the mid-’80s. But I liked it — especially the swings between punk edge and soft verses — and I thought the video was brilliant (the Anarchy Cheerleaders — recruited from a strip club — are still the Best Music Video Thing Ever). Still, I’d heard a lot of songs like it a few years back, when I was playing music in the pocket where Johnny Cash met Henry Rollins, and I thought this scene had come and gone.
It had, maybe, but never with a mass audience. For them, this was something a little, well, grungy. The song was all edge and attitude that I knew would piss off self-styled “authentic punks” because of the quiet verses, and then it turned out that those Nirvana guys had more than one or two or 10 songs in them. The drummer kicked ass, too, although if you had told me that he’d be Mr. Rock ‘n’ Roll Ambassador circa 2015, I would have laughed you out of the place.
The song came out on this date in 1991, and it kicked off rock ‘n’ roll’s last great decade. It also gave us the Seattle Scene, for better or worse (mostly better, I think). Flannel shirt manufacturers will be forever grateful, and so will a lot of people who were annoyed by ’80s hair metal. They got it between the eyes, right where they needed it the most.