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How to Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of ‘Nevermind’

Go home. (Seriously, don’t try to listen while you’re still at work because it will either distract you or become background noise.) Find the earliest copy of Nevermind you still own – not the mp3s, unless it came out before you were born, but the actual CD or even the tape. Pour yourself a drink, or do whatever it is you do to calm down after putting in your 40 or 50 or 60 hours a week. Get out your headphones. Hopefully they’re nice ones, because the last thing you want is for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to sound tinny. Turn up the volume a few notches past what’s comfortable, press “play,” and get to the business of head banging. You will inevitably want to scream along. If there is anyone else at home who will complain about this, ask them politely to leave. Then: Enjoy. Regress. Angst. Revel. Mourn.

But, since there are still a few more hours left in the work day and we’re sure you’re already in the mood to pay tribute to Kurt Cobain, Nirvana, and Nevermind, we’ve rounded up some of the best mementos the Internet has to offer, after the jump.

Watch some recently uploaded, high-quality video of Nirvana performing “Territorial Pissings” at the Paramount in 1991. The band’s VEVO site also has a clip of “Breed” from the same show, along with a ton of other fantastic live footage:

See a pre-Nevermind letter from Nirvana to their fans. Letters of Note has posted a note the guys in Nirvana wrote to their loyal indie-era fans in the days before Nevermind‘s release. As you can see, they were already pretty conflicted about the mainstream stardom that awaited them.

Read a roundtable discussion between Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl, and producer Butch Vig at Entertainment Weekly. Grohl shares a choice anecdote from Nirvana’s major-label bidding war days: “We used to take the A&R business cards to karaoke bars and hand them out. Do you remember that? Someone would go up and sing terribly, and we had so many of them, there were a lot of labels that were courting the band. We had so many A&R cards in our wallets that we’d go to a karaoke bar and someone would sing like ‘God Bless America,’ and we’d walk up and hand them a card and say, “Yeah. Give me a call.” All those A&R guys were getting calls from f—ing terrible karaoke singers.”

Listen to three previously unreleased Nevermind-era tracks.

Watch a video of Kurt Cobain talking about the making of the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video, and the changes he made after an unsatisfying early version [via MTV]:

Read a scathing review of the newly released “super deluxe” Nevermind box set by Jessica Hopper at the Chicago Reader. “All the Nirvana boxes and anniversary editions prey upon a simple wish — the wish to relive the singular moment of revelation, the feeling of being possessed for the first time by ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ its pure abandon, its stuttering pound, the implacable tension between verse and chorus, the feral grain of Cobain’s voice. That wish is there in anyone who ever heard Nirvana and loved them. But you never get as high as the first time,” writes Hopper.

Check out Billboard‘s roundup of Nevermind song covers. Whoa. The Polyphone Spree version of “Lithium” is pretty terrible, huh?

Watch a video of artists like Arctic Monkeys and Suede trying to remember their favorite Nirvana songs, and mostly failing.

Read Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge author Mark Yarm’s essay on grunge’s roots in the pre-Nirvana 1980s. Yarm traces the genre’s birth to a 1986 compilation called Deep Six, which featured the bands Soundgarden, Green River, the Melvins, Malfunkshun, the U-Men, and Skin Yard.

Here’s an unusual project: to celebrate Nevermind‘s anniversary, NPR’s Lars Gotrich is interviewing artists who covered “Something in the Way.” The series is called About a Song and features audio clips and conversations with Damien Jurado, Thou, and Pedro the Lion.

If you haven’t already, page through our gallery of great grunge-era band posters.

And, finally, feel free to leave your fond memories of Nevermind in the comments.