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What ‘Nevermind’ Means Now

SPECIAL ISSUE: The 20th anniversary of the Album That Changed Everything.

SPIN iconSPIN Staff // July 19, 2011

The word “Nirvana” has appeared 1,484 times in the pages of SPIN since 1991; Nevermind, 246 times. (Shout-out, bleary-eyed intern Carly!) Both of these numbers will spike considerably after this issue.

Sure, SPIN had been making serious mischief for six years before Nevermind’s release, but the cultural landscape that the album’s success reflected (and SPIN had been anecdotally documenting) needed a full-blown soapbox, and we were in a unique position. As with many symbiotic, borderline codependent relationships, ours has gone from tentative entreaties to dizzying obsessions to marriages of convenience to tawdry betrayals. Back in 2001, when we published a tenth anniversary Nevermind issue, one letter-writing wag remarked, “So, still pickin’ those bones, huh?”

With this retrospective, we tried to avoid that sort of queasy, pseudo-reverent exploitation, balancing the historical and personal with the playful and forward-thinking. But above all, we just want to say thanks for sticking around and sharing this. See, after all these years, most corporate magazines may still suck, but Nevermind still doesn’t, and that’s the real issue.

Here’s what you can find from our August 2011 issue right here on SPIN.com:

WHAT NEVERMIND MEANS TO ME
Luminaries reflect on Nevermind, from contemporaries like Eddie Vedder, the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne, Sleater-Kinney, and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, to present-day rock heroes like the Black Keys, the Black Lips, and Against Me!, to Seattle scenesters of the time, to Dave Grohl himself. As you’ll see, the effect the record had on music fans and artists alike is as raw and personal now as it was 20 years ago.

NEWERMIND: A TRIBUTE ALBUM
We tapped some of our favorite contemporary artists to cover Nevermind’s 13 songs, in their original order, from Kurt Cobain’s personal faves — the Meat Puppets and the Vaselines — to up-and-comers like Telekinesis, EMA, and JEFF the Brotherhood. The download is called Newermind, and it’s our gift to you.

THE RAP ON KURT: HOOD PASS 4 LIFE
SPIN hip-hop columnist Brandon Soderberg explores how Nirvana spoke to the rap scene, chronicling the songs inspired by Nevermind.

HOW THE NEVERMIND BOY WAS ALMOST A GIRL
Photographer Kirk Weddle tells the story of an alternate Nevermind album cover that featured a girl baby — whose identity remains a mystery!

Come back to SPIN.com every week for more Nevermind coverage, leading up to the album’s reissue on September 20.