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Thread: Smells Like Teen Spirit?

  1. #1 Smells Like Teen Spirit? 
    Forum Junior Cuete's Avatar
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    All right... I'm curious. I want to know what this song means to everyone (it's one of my favorites).

    For me it's the perfect description of a generation; The MTV Generation - of which I'm part of -. Low self esteem, embarassment, serch for entertainment/fun, carelessness...


    Smells Like Teen Spirit - (Nirvana)

    Load up on guns
    bring your friends
    It's fun to lose and to pretend
    She's over bored and self assured
    Oh no, I know a dirty word

    Hello, hello, hello, how low?
    Hello, hello, hello, how low?
    Hello, hello, hello, how low?
    Hello, hello, hello

    With the lights out, it's less dangerous
    Here we are now, entertain us
    I feel stupid and contagious
    Here we are now, entertain us
    A mulatto, an albino
    A mosquito, my libido
    Yea!

    Hey!
    Yea!

    I'm worse at what I do best
    And for this gift I feel blessed
    Our little group has always been
    And always will until the end

    Hello, hello, hello, how low?
    Hello, hello, hello, how low?
    Hello, hello, hello, how low?
    Hello, hello, hello

    With the lights out, it's less dangerous
    Here we are now, entertain us
    I feel stupid and contagious
    Here we are now, entertain us
    A mulatto, an albino
    A mosquito, my Libido
    Yea!

    Hey!
    Yea!

    And I forget just why I taste
    Oh yeah, I guess it makes me smile
    I found it hard, it was to find
    Oh well, whatever, nevermind

    Hello, hello, hello, how low?
    Hello, hello, hello, how low?
    Hello, hello, hello, how low?
    Hello, hello, hello

    With the lights out, it's less dangerous
    Here we are now, entertain us
    I feel stupid and contagious
    Here we are now, entertain us
    A mulatto, an albino
    A mosquito, my libido
    A denial, a denial
    A denial, a denial
    A denial, a denial
    A denial, a denial
    A denial!


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  3. #2  
    Him
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    I have always been a big fan of Nirvana and I am also from the generation X as they call us. However I have never felt the connection with the lyrics. The same can be said for me with the songs of the Smashing pumpkins, which I also adore but do not feel the extra connection which many people do.
    But I agree the song summarizes the feeling of a generation. A feeling of we are here and everything has been done. Which results in a low profile, useless feeling and dido attitude.

    The first line is a point of discussion, “Load up on guns, and bring your friends”.
    If you interpret it as prepare yourself, it kinda conflicts with the rests.
    But a gun is also often referred to as a needle, hence make yourself ready to get stoned.

    On the album nevermind the word gun repeats itselfs.

    In bloom:
    He's the one
    Who likes all our pretty songs
    And he likes to sing along
    And he likes to shoot his gun
    But he knows not what it means
    Knows not what it means when I say aahh ...


    Come as you are:
    And I swear
    That I don’t have a gun
    No I don’t have a gun
    No I don’t have a gun


    Sun of a Gun (Album: Incesticide):
    a song were he pretends to be happy and loses this feeling.

    So I go for the second meaning of gun.


    he who forgets...will be destined to remember (Nothing Man - Pearl Jam)
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  4. #3  
    Forum Professor wallaby's Avatar
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    i can honestly say these lyrics mean nothing to me.

    i'm not really apart of generation X so maybe that explains it.
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  5. #4  
    Forum Sophomore NimaRahnemoon's Avatar
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    I'm not part of Generation X either, and I don't really understand that song either.

    The only thing I could see it as is sex in a closet while wasted.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Masters Degree invert_nexus's Avatar
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    Load up on guns
    bring your friends
    It's fun to lose and to pretend
    She's over bored and self assured
    Oh no, I know a dirty word
    Party. W00t!
    The bored and ineffectual youth.
    Everything's been done.
    Everything is boring.
    Blah blah blah.
    Let's get drunk and blow shit up.

    To lose.
    The standard idea that at least feeling pain is feeling.
    The truth is that it's drama. Who's more dramatic than teenagers?
    Reminds me of Hurt.
    "I hurt myself today. To see if I still feel. I focus on the pain. The only thing that's real."
    Drama.
    Delicious.
    And fun.
    But. One must never admit to it. Hence the pretense.

    To pretend.
    To be a grungy rock star.
    To be a suburban hiphopper in today's terms.
    Children always pretend.
    To be something you're not.
    But, the number one thing to pretend for the age group, perhaps, is that the games are over and that they're 'all grown up'.

    Self-assured. A dirty word because if you say it. You aren't it.
    More pretense. A cigarette hanging from the mouth disfigured by a sardonic sneer.
    The knowing glint in the eye. And yet, behind the eye, such turmoil. Such a desperate desire to hide that turmoil lest ostracization occur. Never once considering that all your chums are experiencing the same thing. Their knowing glances are just as false as yours.

    With the lights out, it's less dangerous
    The dark is a mask that empowers. It allows one to be 'self-assured'. It's less dangerous because in the dark, they can't see the real you. They can't see the tell-tale look of fear and uncertainty that you are certain is there. That you are so desperately trying to hide.

    Here we are now, entertain us
    I feel stupid and contagious
    Bored. Tv sucks.
    Contagious because 'uniqueness' is shared by all.
    Can you imagine, or perhaps witnessed, the horrible things done to those few who actually aren't bored? The nerve of the fuckers actually having joie de vivre.

    A mulatto, an albino
    A mosquito, my libido
    Words that rhyme.
    I suppose one could interpret the first two as things that are different. Outcasts. Solitary creatures. Truly solitary and not the pretend solitude of the children.
    The second could be interpreted as a parasitic essence. A feeding on others to sustain your own energy. Would fit with the 'entertain us' aspect of the song.

    I'm worse at what I do best
    And for this gift I feel blessed
    Hmmm.
    What he does best is be bad?
    Pretend to be bad, at least? But, if you pretend to be bad... aren't you bad?
    And if you know that you're pretending? Doesn't that make you even worse?

    Remember. This song seems to be coming from an outside perspective. Highlighting the pretense rather than enabling it. (Which is what is funny about those spoken about in In Bloom. Those who 'like to sing along'.)

    Our little group has always been
    And always will until the end
    Teenagers always feel so unique. That no one understands them.
    This is an open admission that this is not so. That their 'little group has always been'.
    Teen angst is as old as time itself.
    Once it was utilized in the transformation of the young into a productive member of the tribe. Rites of manhood. Now the youth are simply allowed to wallow in their misery because it's 'just a phase'.

    And I forget just why I taste
    Oh yeah, I guess it makes me smile
    I found it hard, it was to find
    Oh well, whatever, nevermind
    Why do you taste? You've tasted it all before. Nothing new under the sun.
    Oh. That's right. A moment's pleasure. A brief and fragmented smile. Just a little touch. A taste of life.
    It's hard to find that place within yourself. The living place. The bright place. The place that is in touch with the world rather than its anathema.

    But.
    In the end.
    It doesn't really matter.
    IT all passes and...
    Nevermind.

    A denial!
    All of this must be kept hidden to the self.
    The bored and ineffectual youth must never realize his own stereotyped and comic behavioral patterns.
    He is unique. A shining star.
    So he keeps telling himself.



    Now.
    All that said.
    I doubt that there was that much thought put into all the lyrics.
    Many times, these things just come naturally, with the music.
    The interpretation comes later.
    Much of art is this way.


    As to the aspect of boredom and angst... As I've mentioned, it seems the song is coming from an outside perspective, but that could be what really appeals about it. Even though the song seems knowing of the stupidity of the behavior, and is, in a way, ridiculing and satirizing it; it still falls prey to the same. There is a sense of despair involved. A sense that even knowing doesn't help. That GI Joe lied and knowing is NOT half the battle.






    The first line is a point of discussion, “Load up on guns, and bring your friends”.
    If you interpret it as prepare yourself, it kinda conflicts with the rests.
    Perhaps you grew up in the wrong environment. The Seattle area, moreso when Kurt and crew were growing up, while urban, is in close proximity to the wild. There are dirty little country towns all around this place. I have little doubt that a common pasttime was to get drunk and go out and shoot stuff. Signs. Trees. Whatever.
    It has nothing to do with 'preparing yourself'. It has everything to do with senseless action.

    He's the one
    Who likes all our pretty songs
    And he likes to sing along
    And he likes to shoot his gun
    But he knows not what it means
    Knows not what it means when I say aahh ...
    To me, this song is about pretense once more.
    Nirvana is well-known for garbled sounding lyrics.
    But, there's always those who like the 'pretty songs' and 'likes to sing along' but he doesn't even know what the lyrics are. He just mumbles the gibberish not even knowing what he's aping.
    It's about the pretense and the need to fit in. To seem to be that which you are not.

    'Shoot his gun', in this sense, is simply saying that this act of pretense is akin to shooting a gun. Aiming at a target. Shooting off your mouth.

    I find this type of behavior quite often in intellectual circles. There is quite often someone who doesn't know what they're talking about, but they've learned a few words and bits of jargon and they try to pull of an act that they're sophisticated intellectual types by aping words they don't understand. It's an interesting phenomenon and I believe that it lies at the heart of the human condition. Symbology. The way we perceive the world around us. The way we relate to it in perceptual terms. It seems to be an inescapable side effect of the primary cognitive function that seperates us from the animals. And, with this in mind, it's amusing that it's termed 'aping'. But, understandable, I suppose as aping suggests non-understanding which is a defective utilization of the symbolic instinct. A human should seek understanding not pretense. But... should does not make it so. Most seem to get along just fine with their 'ape' behavior.

    Come as you are:
    And I swear
    That I don’t have a gun
    No I don’t have a gun
    No I don’t have a gun
    To me, this song is about luring in others.
    So demanding he is. For a friend.
    Take your time. Hurry up.
    Choice is yours. Don't be late.
    The contradictions are quite blatant.

    "I don't have a gun" is saying that he's not a threat.
    He says it quite menacingly though. You can almost see his shark's teeth as he grins.

    Reminds me of something I read somewhere...

    "Come now, my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we'd be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest?"


    The only thing I could see it as is sex in a closet while wasted.
    Or sex on the floor with everyone watching.
    Whatever.
    It's just a taste anyway.
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  7. #6  
    Forum Junior Cuete's Avatar
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    Whhhoooooooaaa!.... amazing invert_nexus. I totally agree.
    Ironically, this has become a 'sing along' song... or maybe it was ment to be a 'dark sing along' from the beginning? Stupid and contagious?
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  8. #7  
    Forum Junior Lucifer's Avatar
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    Just a side note...

    I always thought the lyrics went:


    "Here we are now, entertain us
    I'm stupid and contagious."

    Although I'm a bit older than this generation they sing to, they're those inmediately after mine, and I've grasped what the song means.

    It's a generation grown under the assumptions of death complex. Too few dangers, too much luxuries, too few chances, too much consume.

    Have goen everywhere, made everything, before they could integrate it as anything else than instant shocks; overestimulated and underchallenged, have grown without parental links but with plenty of consume to fill the gap. And as every young generation, they wonder if, provided they aren't allowed to build, they could destroy, and as they don't bother to destroy the world, seek to destroy themselves... in order to feel alive, to ascertain death as a way to give a meaning to life, and a meanign different than work, earn money and spend it in consumsit pleasure shocks. How cna they possibly interested to owe thgins when they've been owing things for free since ever?

    That could be the fertile ground for a death cult, as soon as weakened the tight grasp in wich consumism holds them. Just give them a break, and the mirage will collapse. It's a good generation for God, the perfect stuff for misticism and eligion, and thye just need a break to be told: "here is a new God, and you won't consume it, you won't go to it, you won't do it: as this God will fill your life, and you know for sure that this sense of being full is what you've been waiting for".

    This generation are a herd of worshippers waiting for a prophet; the scenery is set, the players are waiting for their line, and is just a matter of time until someone channels this potential and shocks the world.
    “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” -Charles Darwin
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  9. #8  
    Forum Junior Cuete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucifer
    It's a generation grown under the assumptions of death complex. Too few dangers, too much luxuries, too few chances, too much consume.

    Have goen everywhere, made everything, before they could integrate it as anything else than instant shocks; overestimulated and underchallenged, have grown without parental links but with plenty of consume to fill the gap. And as every young generation, they wonder if, provided they aren't allowed to build, they could destroy, and as they don't bother to destroy the world, seek to destroy themselves... in order to feel alive, to ascertain death as a way to give a meaning to life, and a meanign different than work, earn money and spend it in consumsit pleasure shocks. How cna they possibly interested to owe thgins when they've been owing things for free since ever?

    That could be the fertile ground for a death cult, as soon as weakened the tight grasp in wich consumism holds them. Just give them a break, and the mirage will collapse. It's a good generation for God, the perfect stuff for misticism and eligion, and thye just need a break to be told: "here is a new God, and you won't consume it, you won't go to it, you won't do it: as this God will fill your life, and you know for sure that this sense of being full is what you've been waiting for".

    This generation are a herd of worshippers waiting for a prophet; the scenery is set, the players are waiting for their line, and is just a matter of time until someone channels this potential and shocks the world.

    I'm part of it and I'm concious about this, you're right.

    But I'd like to know which are the positive aspects of my generation also, according to you. In our defence (if you can call it that way), we are a sceptic generation, questioning and destroying social, cutural and religious paradigms. We are a competitive generation - tough the objective is to consume and possess stuff - we are far more competitive that older generations.

    Despite our carelessness, we have some new fresh awareness about ecology, social and cultural differences... We aren't that bad after all.

    I'm curious what will the world be like when we are in a power position, when one of us becomes president and stuff.
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  10. #9  
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    The first line is a point of discussion, “Load up on guns, and bring your friends”.
    If you interpret it as prepare yourself, it kinda conflicts with the rests.

    Perhaps you grew up in the wrong environment. The Seattle area, moreso when Kurt and crew were growing up, while urban, is in close proximity to the wild. There are dirty little country towns all around this place. I have little doubt that a common pasttime was to get drunk and go out and shoot stuff. Signs. Trees. Whatever.
    It has nothing to do with 'preparing yourself'. It has everything to do with senseless action.
    Seems like the wrong environment to place the first sentence is the right environment to to grow up in. But I agree only in Sun of Gun the relation with gun and needle is most likely in the other less likely.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cuete
    I'm curious what will the world be like when we are in a power position, when one of us becomes president and stuff.
    I wouldn’t be that excited, look at the generation of the sixties, I can’t say their ideas are implemented as they grew older and got in places of power.
    he who forgets...will be destined to remember (Nothing Man - Pearl Jam)
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  11. #10  
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    I have heard an anecdote about the song. Kurt got the idea of the title of a girlfriend who spayed “Kurt smells like teen spirit” on the wall. Kurt was really impressed, thought she was complementing his rebellious spirit. However she implied that he actually smelled like teen spirit (a deodorant brand she was warring and know Kurt smelled like it).
    When Kurt used it as a title he still didn’t know it also was brand name, the story goes the brand ‘teen spirit’ actually got more popular by the song.
    Hence some people being from the neighbourhood, maybe they can confirm the story???
    he who forgets...will be destined to remember (Nothing Man - Pearl Jam)
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  12. #11  
    Forum Freshman e_atom's Avatar
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    Even though I could be considered apart of that generation, I am nothing but the opposite of it. It's all about how you think about life, I never let someone keep me down.
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