Kurt Cobain, lead singer of Nirvana, died 20 years ago - April 5, 1994. At the time, I was 7 (OMG! I'm sooo old!). I wasn't a fan of their music then and I didn't start to get into Nirvana until I was in high school. I've grown to love their music and to love the mythologized version of Kurt Cobain. Learning about a tortured soul is interesting to me - I've read multiple books and watched a few documentaries about his life and death.
I've written about him a few times here on the blog before. Here are some previous posts:
White Unicorn ... Not really about Nirvana, but I briefly mention reading "Journals," the collection of his writings and give some thoughts
Tearjerker ... Around the anniversary of Cobain's death in 2012, I embedded a video of the song Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers wrote about Cobain's death
Nevermind; 20 years later ... Looking back at the 20-year anniversary of their biggest album (a picture I embedded no longer shows up, you can click here to see it)
It's better to burn out than fade away ... Small remembrance from April 5, 2011
And there's a few more in there. An ill-fated experiment to list the Top 50 most-played songs in my iTunes library during the summer of 2010 featured 5 Nirvana songs.
A few months ago, I thought about doing a list of my favorite Nirvana songs. I was thinking about making it either Top 10 or Top 15. Then, I realized that they only had 3 albums and all the songs are good. Don't limit yourself to any list. If you've never heard Nirvana, just pick up an album and run with it. They're all worth checking out.
The idea of creating something amazing that people love is part of what drives me. What Kurt Cobain was able to do in such a short amount of time is incredible. He created things that will stand the test of time. He used his words, set to music, and he will be remembered forever.
He created something bigger than himself. That's what I have tried to do in my life. When people say, "Chris Slater," I want the response to be "The guy who did ______" whatever it is I do.
I use my words and thoughts to create things. I hope people like those things. Maybe they can help people? Excite people? Make them laugh?
Has Cobain's myth been magnified since his death? Of course. He had the now-stereotypical "tortured artist" vibe going for him. He made all of these incredible songs and dealt with a horrible drug addiction. Something got to be too much for him; either life, fame, the pain, or whatever, and he shot himself in the head.
Nirvana's last studio album dealt a lot with fame and the aftereffects of their rise. Perhaps a lyric from one of the songs on that album sums things up nicely: "I miss the comfort in being sad." He had what society deemed a "happy" lifestyle, but he wasn't comfortable with it.
Cobain is a member of the infamous "27 Club," a group of famous people, mostly musicians who have died at the age of 27. I am currently 27. I couldn't imagine living this long and then not doing anything else. It's crazy to think of how much content Kurt Cobain put into those 27 years. Similar to Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, two other members of the 27 Club.
What a life. And, what a post-life. We'll end things here with a video of Dave Grohl telling a story of meeting Kurt Cobain and ending with a song he wrote about Nirvana.