Fifteen years ago Sunday, Kurt Cobain took his own life. During the past week I've been thinking about him a lot, listening to a bunch of Nirvana music, watching videos, etc. It's always a wistful and nostalgic experience, revisiting the music of this band, because it is ultimately a reminder of the last really exciting global music phenomenon worth mentioning. Nirvana was a band that, for once, rose to the top for all the right reasons. And, for a few years, they kept the pop music world tantalizingly interesting. Who could forget their audience-baiting performances on SNL and Top of the Pops? Or their moment on Headbanger's Ball, dressed proudly in drag? Yes, Nirvana stood for all that was good and righteous.
Ever since Kurt's suicide, rock and roll has gotten very tame and predictable, in my opinion. I would sure love to have some of his honesty, humility and sheer fuck-it-all abandon ricocheting around us in 2009...
Watching the videos of Nirvana circa 1991/92, one gets the sense of something beautiful happening; a very small but undeniably awesome rock band unwittingly becoming the biggest cultural force in the world, against all odds and prevailing logic. And for good reason: they had undeniable songs, were thoughtful and intelligent musicians and exhibited that rare and spontaneous quality, danger. They were the real deal, through and through.
There's more to say on this, but suffice it to say that I miss this band and I miss Kurt very much. It sure would be great to have Mr. Cobain around today -- I can only imagine his presence would do us all some good. But obviously the man was not at all ready to be annointed "voice of a generation". He was mortified and appalled by his mega-celebrity and eventually it did him in.
It's an awful shame that this incandescent talent couldn't survive the experience of his own success -- for the short time that he made music, he and his band changed everything in rock, most definitely for the better. I can only imagine that, had he lived, his presence in 2009 would serve as an antidote for the overwhelming proliferation of manufactured, safe, insincere and unoriginal SUCKINESS that rules the day.
Or maybe even Kurt wouldn't be able to make that much of a difference. Either way, rest in peace, Kurt and Nirvana. You are much missed.