So much has been said about Kurt Cobain, Nirvana, his untimely death, his battles with drugs and fame, his notorious wife, his beautiful daughter, etc., etc. that at this point, the only real way to truly get at the heart of what Nirvana, grunge, and “The sad little, sensitive, unappreciative, Pisces, Jesus man” were, and were about, is to put on In Utero, then Incesticide, and listen. Not just with your ears, but with your thoughts. It’s easy to say that Kurt had been where many of us have been, but it’s not so easy for us to understand where Kurt was. Anyone who even thinks of committing suicide must be in a dark place. Many who think of committing suicide leave that dark place, either on their own or with the help of someone who truly loves and cares for them. Kurt never did. No one will ever fully know why, except for the man himself. He left a great deal of joy behind him though, and obviously that should be the focus of any energy spent on understanding, through his words and music, Kurt Cobain ,the man and his music.
Kurt would have been 45 years old on February 20, 2012. I was 19 when he died, and someone aged 27 seemed to me to be so far into their life that I couldn’t quite comprehend that the difference between our ages really wasn’t all that much. At the time it seemed huge, but now that I am 10 years older than what Kurt was when he died, it seems like we really could almost have been peers. Nevertheless of how it felt then, or how it feels now, Kurt’s death feels like just yesterday, at least in a musical sense. In nearly every bad rock act I hear on the radio, I hear Kurt Cobain’s influence. Often times, I hear his music played just before or after every bad rock song I hear on the radio. There is not always a huge amount of musical difference between Kurt’s songs and the bad radio rock songs, but there is a huge amount of difference in the feeling that is transmitted through Kurt’s songs vs. the feeling attempted at being relayed through the other songs. Maybe this is just because I grew up, and was coming of age, during the whole grunge/new rock revolution movement. I don’t know. All I know is that this fact is true for me. It's also true for many of my generation. Maybe this is how Baby Boomers (those not screwing up the economy and generally reinforcing their darker side, the one that came to the fore in the 1980s) feel when they hear John Lennon’s music? I honestly don’t know.
John Lennon was another one who died way too early too, albeit under much different circumstances. I’ve often wondered though: If John Lennon had lived, would we have had to suffer through the years upon years of horrific 1980s pop and hair metal? No one will ever know, but it’s interesting to speculate. I’ve often wondered this too: If Kurt Cobain was still alive would we have to put up with Nickleback and Puddle of Mud? No one will ever know. I think it’s safe to say that all of these atrocities would still have come into existence, regardless of Lennon or Cobain’s influence. There just would be even more for us, those with more reasonably good ears, to listen to in popular opposition to these bands, rather than just U2, whatever punk is popular, and Pearl Jam. All of these bands are great, but imagine what a Lennon or Cobain collaboration with these musical geniuses could have wrought. Most interestingly though, I’ve often wondered what John Lennon would have thought of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana? I have no doubt that Kurt would have loved Lennon, and whatever music he would have put out past Double Fantasy.
To quote a much less talented, but capable, musician, “A vicarious existence is a fuckin’ waste of time,” and that’s just what wondering about, and pondering over, the “what could have and should have beens” with regards to Kurt's life is. Instead simply enjoy this:
As tortured as it looked and sounded. I bet that Kurt found some joy and solace in it. I know that many of us do.