DDT: DiRienzo’s Deep Thoughts – 1992

February 19, 2016
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There have been countless pivotal years in history. 1776. 1865. 1945. For me it was 1992.

I was going through changes in 1992. In fact, the whole world changed in 1992.

1992 was the year the Cold War ended. The year Windows 3.1 was installed on millions of personal computers. The year Euro Disney opened. The year Johnny Carson made way for Jay Leno. The last time the Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics were held in the same year. The year Bill Clinton was elected President. It was they year Miley Cyrus was born and the year Lawrence Welk died.

Likewise, when the year started, I was in 5th grade at my local public elementary school. After that year’s summer vacation, I started 6th grade at a Catholic school. I went from normal clothes in class to a uniform. From a comfortable group of friends to an entire new group of classmates. From pining over a girl named Janet to one named Sara.

Changes.

The biggest change might have come with a $220 purchase at Boscov’s. I got a CD player boombox as a birthday present and my life was never the same.

The first CD I ever bought was Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s Music For The People. (I’m not necessarily proud of that, but it is a fact.) Thankfully, in the next 15 years, I went on to buy hundreds of other CDs, each one better than that first purchase.

Right about the time I was listening to “Wild Side” for the first time, the music world was changing in another way. Michael Jackson was the King of Pop. In 1992, Michael Jackson’s Dangerous album was the biggest thing in the world.  Black or White was a huge song and its video was the reason Michael Jordan, Macaulay Culkin, and Heavy D all had each other’s phone numbers.  It was the latest in a long list of successful Michael Jackson moves.  Everything he did went gold or platinum.  Even though the pedophile jokes were starting and his reputation would soon be damaged beyond repair, Michael Jackson was the undisputed entertainment champion of the world.

And then came Nirvana.

The opening salvos of the grunge movement had come and gone without much notice.  The bands that would soon become household names were making their bones in the clubs in the Pacific Northwest.  They were making a specific sound, one that would later become GRUNGE.  For the time being, they were just the bands that scared adults and made the youth in Washington state grow their hair and mope around.

Nirvana burst into the American zeitgeist with the combination of anger, flannel, and musical hooks.  They were the Beatles for a new generation.  And, like the Fab Four did years before, they made people uncomfortable and they changed the world.  Their songs were catchy, but melancholy.  Instead of focusing on girls, drugs, sex, and fireworks, the music was about mind-stabilizing drugs, angst, and aggression.

When Nevermind hit #1 on the album charts, it didn’t just change the trajectory of Nirvana’s career, it changed music.  Nevermind booted Dangerous from the top of the charts, but it did more than that.  It started the downward trajectory of Michael Jackson’s career.  It made hair metal seem trite and juvenile.

It changed everything.

1992 was one of those years.  Listen to the radio today and you’ll hear 1992′s influence.  It’s buried under layers of autotune, but it’s there.  I still go back to 1992 from time to time.  It’s hard to forget that year.

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