Friday, 4 April 2014

THE DEATH OF COBAIN

I was too young for the death of Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe.  I remember John Lennon's death, of course, but it didn't hit me that much.  I was 16.  But, on my 28th birthday, April 8th, 1994, Kurt Cobain's body was found - that I recall.  I no longer listen to Cobain's music very much.  It is part of who I am, like The Beatles, Metallica, AC/DC, The Stooges, The Smiths, Simple Minds, Joy Division, even Prince, but the music is too rich, too intense, for the everyday listen.  But 20 years ago I was very sad.  It felt like a personal blow - a bit like PSH's recent death - for Cobain was really the spokesperson for my generation.  Why?  Well, he seemed to come from a broken suburban home where abuse, failure and madness had played their part; he had low self-esteem; he loved punk, but he also loved indie (Pixies) and the canon (The Beatles); he even name-checked Leonard Cohen, a Canadian - and, oddly enough, he was very witty.  Also, as befit the Gen-X slacker moment, he didn't care about fame, or money, he actually loved creativity and saw self-expression as something necessary and urgent.  He wasn't, of course, a poet, but compared to the Britpop pack across the water, he sure as hell behaved like one.  Cobain was a visionary genius.  And, in about ten songs, he nailed his mix of humanity, compassion, vicious irony, and pop culture nous in ways that made his band the greatest American group of the 1990s. I suppose I am the Cobain who survived - unsung, to be sure, in comparison, but like many young men of my time I am suddenly on the cusp of 50, and Nevermind seems a long time ago, a time Outofmind more than anything.  Bittersweet to think of it, but I once thought I was dumb and everyone was gay.  And we all drank Pennyroyal Tea.
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