Monday, April 6, 2009

Kurt Cobain put a bullet in his head 15 years ago today.


15 years ago today Kurt Cobain decided he'd had enough. He went up to the green house in his home, grabbed his 12 gauge and promptly took half of his head off with one shot.
Why? Why the hell would he do this? He had these things going for him, in no particular order: wife, baby, money, a great band (Dave Grohl is your drummer!!) and the adoration of millions. Along with this he had the tremendous pressure, perceived by Kurt or not, as the pied piper of the grunge movement but really, he became more like one of the pillars of music in its entirety. People talk about Kurt along with other icons such as Jimi, Jim, Janice and Bob (as in Marley). No doubt music would be different today if he hadn't come along. The quiet, loud, quiet pacing of his songs was basically set in template by Nirvana and has been copied countlessly since. His songwriting was excellent, his arranging skills were better and his band sold the whole thing perfectly. (Listen to Smells Like Teen Spirit again and imagine that song without Dave Grohl bringing in the whole first four measures with that drum intro).
Personally, I remember driving on 9th East and 53rd South, in 1992, a few weeks after Nevermind came out, and the first single came on the radio. It got my attention immediately and it was actually a little difficult to listen to, especially at the end, with Kurt yelling "oh denial" about 10 times at the top of his lungs. But I got the point. This guy had something to say. And as I bought all of Nirvana's music, I quickly became a lifelong fan.
Which brings me to the point: this guy's childhood was awful. Read this book and you will get an insight into a young kid's life filled with abuse, neglect, bad divorce, abandonment and intense loneliness.

Heavier Than Heaven by Charles Cross

However, he would not have made the kind of music that influenced countless millions without that childhood. His early pain equalled later genius. Do I wish he would have had a normal childhood and thus never made four classic albums? That he basically gave his life for music that will be listented to well beyond the day of his death?

Is there ever a sweet spot for artists like this? A point where they temper the fame and demands and still make music that brings about sea change? All I know is I will still play his songs and still sing along and wish he was still around. What else is there?


  1. I remember I was in Disneyland when this happened and I never knew he was saying "oh denial" at the end of that song! See how informative your blog is! I don't think I sing the right words to any song.

  2. It's a confusing song lyrically. I had to read through the lyrics sheet a few times to get it all down.

    Um, yeah, I read lyric sheets. Nerd alert!