I turned 15 years old in 1991. The same year, Nirvana released Nevermind, Pearl Jam released Ten, and Soundgarden released Badmotorfinger. Alice in Chains' Dirt would follow in 1992. Many of the songs did not become popular until 1992 and 1993. What better time in a person's life for four seminal albums, half of the songs incredible in their despondence, to be released.
I'm not sure how grunge came to pass as a broad definition of rock and roll. My parents certainly thought of it all as common noise. But it's the last major turning point in rock and roll. Grunge, to me, would signify a raw, distorted, dejected sound. Instead of the piercing vocals and guitars of 1980s heavy metal, the hard rock bands of the 1990s favored a thorough, sludgy bass sound. In my mind, Soundgarden came closest. By far the most professional band, Soundgarden hit me immediately as soon as I heard the song "Outshined." They reminded me of heavy metal bands of the 1970s. Pearl Jam struck me as a straight-ahead rock band, more like the Rolling Stones. Alice in Chains stood out for its tortured vocals. Nirvana were the closest to a party band, more like the Buzzcocks, in a pop-punk sense.
With four established bands from Seattle, many imitators appeared by 1993. Stone Temple Pilots, a California band, struck me as the first major carpet-rider. Bush appeared from England. The Offspring, who predated all of those bands, suddenly became popular. Green Day may have prospered more than anyone, as I write this in 2013.
I craved depressing lyrics, songs of complaint, even though I had nothing worthy to complain about, I complained anyway. Whereas my friends loved amusing bands, acts like They Might Be Giants or Primus, I sulked. I had no reason to sulk as a middle class teenager, but I sulked. Grunge provided the outlet in a way I don't think many other periods of music could have done so.