How could I have forgotten? Today is the tenth anniversary of Kurt Cobain's suicide. Or if you are in the "Kurt was God and Courtney Killed Him" camp, the anniversary of his homicide.
Either way, he's dead ten years. Unless, of course, he pulled an Elvis and he's actually working tables at a Denny's somewhere, his hair dyed black and his oversized sweaters traded in for a poly-cotton blend uniform.
I've only written about Cobain a couple of times. Once, to tell the tale of how Kurt spoke to me in a dream
and once to share the conversation
I had with DJ in which this exchange took place:
Do you think Kurt Cobain lived long enough to see his brains splatter everywhere?
No idea, DJ.
I bet he did. And I bet he thought, damn, I could have written a really great song called Brains On The Wall if I didn't JUST KILL MYSELF! I'M SUCH AN IDIOT!! [said in a screaming tone that sounded very much like Kurt's voice on Lithium]
You really need to read the whole tihng
for context. It was a completely educational experience, I assure you. However, the long trail of comments (the last batch, anyhow) on that post read like a slang dictionary for oxygen-deprived youth.
When the subject of Kurt Cobain comes up, you can often hear me stating my opinion that the man was totally overrated. That is to say, he a) was not the savior of rock and roll and b) was not the greatest living musician/songrwiter to ever walk the face of the earth (now the greatest dead songwriter to do so).
That doesn't mean I don't think the guy was talented. He wrote some damn fine songs and made some decent music. Conversely, he wrote some really stupid lyrics as well.
Song: About a Girl
.Not the most interesting lyrics, but it's got a nice tune and I like the way Kurt's voice sounded on this one: plaintive - stopping just short of being whiny.
: Negative Creep
. Excellent music, fun to sing while driving, stupid lyrics.
But then we have a look at Nevemrind. There are no
bad songs on this album. Even when the lyrics become muddled and Cobain's voice sounds shredded and dry, the songs are overwhelmingly brilliant. However - and this a huge
however, a lot of that brilliance can be attributed not to Cobain, but to Dave Grohl (a god among men) and Krist Novoselic.
And this is why I beleive Kurt Cobain was and still is overrated. Not enough credit is given to Novoselic and Grohl for what they did with the lyrics, or for how they made the music play off of Kurt's unusual vocal stylings.
My point is this: It is a myth that Kurt Cobain singlehandedly changed the face of rock and roll, made alternative music mainstream or led a revolution that made grunge a household world. The fact is, it was Nirvana as a whole that did that, not just Cobain.
Ten years ago today I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of a Rockbottom drugstore, ready to shift into drive and head home. The DJ on KRock was just announcing the death of Cobain. No one was really surprised, given what had happened in Italy the week before. Still, it was a stun-gun kind of feeling to hear the news. If Kurt Cobain was dead, so was Nirvana. Only later would I discover that it didn't matter at all if Nirvana was dead.
It wasn't until Grohl formed the Foo Fighters that many people realized the truth. Not only were the Foo Fighters better than Nirvana, but it was really Grohl who changed the face of rock and roll in the early 90's.
I have no idea how a post that was supposed to be about Kurt Cobain turned into an ode to Grohl, but it's kind of fitting, I suppose, given that the same thing happened - at least in my mind - with grunge. It started out being about Cobain, but in the end it wasn't.
By the way, it's time to let go, kids.