Wednesday, April 06, 2011


Kurt Cobain shot himself seventeen years ago. I heard about it when I was at my friend/bandmate Matt's parents house in Roseville. I was sad but not surprised. There was so much misery in his music that it was obvious that he was deeply unhappy.

Kurt Cobain meant a lot to my friends and I. In some ways he was an idol: a sensitive freak who had made good, shown up all the jocks and gone on to transform the record industry and our culture. I tried to drum like Dave Grohl, my bandmates tried to sing like Kurt Cobain, and everyone aped their loud-quiet-loud aesthetic. Before Nirvana broke in '91, the music industry was DIRE. The only interesting music was coming out of hip-hop - mainstream rock music was all hair bands and garbage, with the exception of Guns and Roses. Nirvana took the rawness and realness of punk and made it melodic and palatable to the masses. Cobain's lyrics were obtuse, but any teenage kid recognized some of their own frustration and confusion in his tortured yowls.

His death marked the end of the grunge movement, and the decline of music. Most of the bands that came up with Nirvana were actually good: Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, the Smashing Pumpkins. By 94, the second generation of grunge bands was coming, and they watered down the sound and turned it into generic rock. By 95 I had gotten totally bored of all of it - the dirty production, the downer vibe, the navel-gazing subject matter. I moved on to other things.

Luckily, Nirvana doesn't hit me the same way they did when I was 19. However, I still love many of their songs, and I think most of them hold up pretty well twenty years later.

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