It is universally acknowledged that there were two 1991s.
There was this 1991:
Nirvana was blowing up and kids everywhere were taking notice. Kids everywhere except me.
My small hometown didn’t carry MTV, I didn’t listen to Rock 108. As far as I was concerned, Nirvana wouldn’t exist for another two years. That’s how it works in the sticks.
So for me, there was this 1991:
I loved Amy Grant. I wasn’t alone: my best friend Jenny loved her, my cool cousin Erin loved her, a lot of people loved her. “Baby, Baby” finished the year as the 10th most popular single on the Billboard charts – I looked it up – so don’t go pretending now like you were too cool for her. I have proof you probably weren’t.
Heart in Motion was one of my first CDs. It was my first concert. It also might have been one of the last albums I listened to unapologetically. Later I would discover Sinead O’Connor and R.E.M. and realize the benefits of angst (or at least the benefits of appearing like I possessed some). But in 1991, I was blissfully unaware of Nirvana. I was blissfully unaware of cool.
I was 15 going on 16.
My tape and CD collection included Mariah Carey, Rick Astley, DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, Bell Biv Devoe, New Kids on the Block, George Michael, and the soundtracks to Dirty Dancing and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
I spent my free time writing character profiles for unwritten Harlequin Romance novels. (I couldn’t actually write the stories; I had never kissed a boy. The love scenes would have gone something like this, “Alexandria and Drake smushed their lips together, then sensually moved their heads from side to side”.)
I crafted fan letters to Matthew Ashford (the actor who played Jack Deveraux on Days of Our Lives) but never sent them.
On weekends, I would peruse the two shelves of VHS tapes at my local library with the intention of checking out something smart like Dr. Strangelove only to end up checking out The Sound of Music or Shag for the 15th time.
I wasn’t the kid Kurt Cobain was singing to. I smelled like Teen Spirit, literally. Caribbean Cool, specifically.
Amy Grant fit into my life perfectly. She was like a middle-aged, bubbly best friend; the type who would cherish the other half of a “Best Friends Forever” heart necklace and tell me I looked fantastic in a floral brocade vest and a Blossom hat. She would totally come over and watch The Sound of Music with me.
She was literally like my best friend Jenny. And that’s all I wanted from music then; to feel like I did when I was hanging out with my best friend.
That was my nirvana.
Bonus Track: “Boogie in Your Butt” Eddie Murphy
I’m making a Casey Kasem long-distance dedication to my sister, Debbie, because this song used to make us laugh until we peed.