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Kurt Cobain: Still Dead (And Other Observations)
Intellectual Conservative ^ | 06 April 2004 | Brian S. Wise

Posted on 04/06/2004 9:42:49 AM PDT by presidio9

Spin magazine was the first by my observation to put the very dead Kurt Cobain on its April cover to mark the tenth anniversary of his suicide, on 05 April 1994 (his body was found on 08 April). Though he’s nearly twenty-five in this picture, he looks all of seventeen and decidedly sober, one of those rarities. It’s hard to say how often Cobain was photographed sober, but since his death very few publications have thought to publish a decent photo of the man, for fear of not portraying him as a tragic figure.

But at least we have tragic texts. “Kurt Cobain was many things while he was alive – punk, pop star, hero, victim, junkie, feminist, geek avenger, wiseass. But ten years after his death, he’s something else entirely. He’s a ghost [emphasis original] …. [The] bitter finality of Cobain’s end became an indelible part of his story …. No other chapter in pop music history has so much darkness at its center. And no other artist still haunts us in such a powerful, subliminal way.” And so forth.

Chris Norris, who wrote “The Ghost of Saint Kurt” for Spin, may or may not be a fine writer in everyday life, but the article goes on as though beehived old blue hairs are lining up outside Cobain’s house to see his furniture. Easy, Norris. We understand that some journalistic liberties are taken when it comes to writing tribute pieces about popular figures, but come on. If you’re going to say no other chapter in pop music history has so much darkness at its center (and in doing so, at least ignoring the likes of Syd Barrett, the former Pink Floyd lead singer who went crazy and stayed there, a different consideration from being addicted, depressed and ending it all), you’re implying that since “Rock Around the Clock” there has been nothing worse, which is more than a little silly.

But Kurt Cobain was what he was, and a decade later we are left to consider the question (“Was Cobain a performer of real significance or an over-hyped flash in the pan?”) with the full benefit of retrospect. Helpful to remember that what makes a performer unique isn’t just his abilities but the moment in time in which he is “discovered.” Consequently, what made Cobain special wasn’t necessarily his ability to write and perform the catchiest hooks in popular music (which he certainly did), but the confluence of musical events that made him palatable to very large, young audiences.

If released either five years before or after the actual release dates in 1991, both the song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and the album Nevermind would have come and gone without one-twentieth the fanfare. In 1986, bubblegum pop was still big enough to overwhelm anything different; in 1996, Nirvana would have been thought of as just another band arriving too late to the party, in the way we today consider some of the other capable bands that surrounded Nirvana, such as Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains.

Instead, what happened was that Nirvana signed with Geffen (from a fine little label called Sub Pop; for its loss, Sub Pop negotiated what proved to be a tremendously profitable percentage deal against Nirvana sales, after a certain number of units), a company that had so little faith in the band it printed only fifty thousand copies of Nevermind for its initial release, and didn’t hurt itself in promotion. That was, until MTV got hold of the video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” the rest being history.

Nearly lost in the Norris article is the fact that a radio station in San Diego, KBZT, now plays “all your favorite grunge hits,” meaning that it has switched to an alternative music format; also meaning that Nirvana has once again taken center stage. Is anyone surprised that Cobain has found a new audience? The dynamics that made his music so fashionable thirteen years ago are in place again today, just as they were then.

Modern popular music is a repetitive, plastic, tedious wasteland directed primarily at teenage babysitters and their babysitting money; an industry in desperate need of several shots in the arm from something large, intrusive and different. And while there are bands making large, original strides forward – Queens of the Stone Age comes to mind, as does Slipknot – they aren’t striking the sort of nerve Nirvana struck, most likely because not enough people aren’t fed up, yet. Hopefully they will be very soon.

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To: rattrap; 1L
Nirvana started a musical movement that lasted nearly two --- weeks. It's influence so transformed the rock world that the non-artform called rap not only filled the void but apparently destroyed rock and roll so completely that many people today -- never having been exposed to real musicians -- actually consider rap to be music.

If I was responsible giving rap a entry into the music world I'd blow my brains out too.
21 posted on 04/06/2004 10:44:21 AM PDT by Lee'sGhost (Crom!)
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To: presidio9
Admit it: You hang on my every word.

Well, no.

But your Missy Mofo posts are pretty good. <|:D~

22 posted on 04/06/2004 10:44:31 AM PDT by martin_fierro (Fingers of Fury™)
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To: presidio9
...The author's observation that the band's success was a result of a unique confluence of events is particularly asinine...

Agree. I refused to listen to Nirvana during its heyday because it was so hyped - like the Beatles. But just as some of McCartney's songs hold up - despite them being muzaked to death for decades now - so do Cobain's. He once said some something to the effect that he was probably happiest back when he shopped in thrift stores, which is like what Robin Williams said, "Cocaine is God's way of letting you know you have too much money."
23 posted on 04/06/2004 10:46:51 AM PDT by Sabatier
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To: martin_fierro
Haven't you heard? She's AWOL.
24 posted on 04/06/2004 10:48:05 AM PDT by presidio9 ("There are no mistakes -- only Happy Accidents." -Bob Ross)
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To: Chi-townChief
I think Cobain just listened to too much of his own music and finally said: "A lot of this just really sucks" and KA-BLAMMO.

My guess is that he awoke one morning from an drug-induced haze, saw Courtney Love and said,
"Who's that skank?"

"She's WHAT!?!"

...and promptly (and justifiably) blew his brains out.

25 posted on 04/06/2004 10:49:50 AM PDT by Ignatz (Cheerfully helping people be more like me since 1960....)
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To: presidio9
I remember the day Kurt Cobain died. I was in my office and got an email that a coworker had sent to everyone announcing what had happened. The first thought that ran through my mind was "Who's Kurt Cobain?"
26 posted on 04/06/2004 10:59:13 AM PDT by snarkpup
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To: presidio9
"If he had lived, he'd never have been able to live up to his publicity."

-Humphrey Bogart on James Dean

27 posted on 04/06/2004 11:05:19 AM PDT by T. Buzzard Trueblood
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To: ffusco
Have you seen the movie "24 Hour Party People"? It's about the whole Manchester/Factory Records scene, including Joy Division. The guy playing Curtis is amazing.
28 posted on 04/06/2004 11:30:41 AM PDT by Heyworth
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To: Conservomax
Are you saying that just to say it or do you really feel that way?

the only thing new kurt ever created was that hell spawn with courtney. nirvana's "music" was overrated, overhyped garbage. cobain was a media darling and nothing more.

29 posted on 04/06/2004 12:09:39 PM PDT by rattrap
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To: rattrap
is it just me, or does anybody see Courtney going his way quite soon?
30 posted on 04/06/2004 12:15:12 PM PDT by Sybeck1
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To: Wyatt's Torch
When we were sixteen or so, Stevie Ray asked me to sing with his band. I said no. He was bad news.

Stevie and his dad, Jimmy, are buried a short distance from my mother. I go by and leave a little something on their plots every no and then. His dad was a great guy.
31 posted on 04/06/2004 12:39:09 PM PDT by whereasandsoforth (tagged for migratory purposes only)
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To: presidio9
I want to go on record but since they don't make LP's anymore I will have to settle for my four track recorder. Nirvana was good on the Nevermind album and I listen to it when I am in a headbanger mood. Kath, Hendrix, Joplin, and Eliot were gone too soon, but then we didn't have to see them at sixty years old playing their standards.
32 posted on 04/06/2004 12:43:57 PM PDT by vetvetdoug (Vampire bats are little Democrats looking to suck your blood and give you diseases.)
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To: 1L
Calling Cobain or Nirvana "important" or anything other than a "waste of time" is totally stupid.

Well, one thing I'll give Kurt and Nirvana: They single-handedly killed the 80's heavy metal, hair band crapola. If for no other reason, we should be grateful for that.

33 posted on 04/06/2004 12:52:02 PM PDT by Skooz (My Biography: Psalm 40:1-3)
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To: presidio9
(To be sung to Nirvana's "Polly")

Kerry is a cracker...enslavin' black folks worst!!
All he wants is Power...still FRiends call him "Lurch"!!

He's Jean Kerry...demon seed...
He ain't righteous dreams...
He knows Clinton LIED...RE-IMPEACH!!
Right needs yer whup Kerry!!
We hold out hope...that we'll be bold!!
Promise you...fight Dem fools...
We know FReedom's Right...Devolve Power!!
Right needs yer help...Guv'ment devours!!

Kerry's a whipcracker...DemRATS, they're still Clinton's fools!!
Left asks us to entrust them..."Justice Fer Clinton, you Poltroons!!"

So, we must FReep...endlessly...
It's still laugh and sing!!
Hanoi Jean, he lied...'bout his pals...
In Viet Nam, Jean pussied out!!
I hold out hope...Right'll be bold!!
Promise you...FReep fer Truth!!
We know FReedom's Right...Devolve Power!!
Right needs yer FRee yerselves!!

(bass guitar solo)

Kerry's FRench...
Kerry loves Big Guv'ment...he is our enemy!!
Right must be on guard...'cuz Hanoi Jean, he LOATHES Liberty!!

He's Jean Kerry...effete breed...
Help US whup...RAT's elite dweebs!!
Hanoi Jean, he LIES...marries wealth...
We need yer Unleash HELL!!
We hold out'll be bold!!
Righteous, show some yerselves!!
We need yer help...FReep with stealth......

Mudboy Slim (3/24/04)

34 posted on 04/06/2004 1:03:06 PM PDT by Mudboy Slim (Become a monthly donor......"What good am I...if I fail to FReep?!")
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To: whereasandsoforth
Great story. He was a little, sometimes a lot, messed up but he could flat play. I used to be exhausted after his shows because he was just so emotional while playing. He was a joy to watch.
35 posted on 04/06/2004 1:04:50 PM PDT by Wyatt's Torch
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To: presidio9
Allow me to go on record and say I could really care less about the man. He was a selfish coward who took the easy way out instead of trying to get help for his problems.

I am sorry, but I do not have an awful lot of respect for people who take their own lives.

36 posted on 04/06/2004 1:07:56 PM PDT by Houmatt (This is not here.)
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To: presidio9
"....? they aren?t striking the sort of nerve Nirvana struck, most likely because not enough people aren?t fed up, yet. Hopefully they will be very soon...."

Is this the same as the Demon-rats wishing the economy tanks so they can come back to power, ie. 'What is bad for America is good for us'?

37 posted on 04/06/2004 1:12:25 PM PDT by DoctorMichael (The Fourth Estate is a Fifth Column!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
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To: Houmatt

Upon completing this painting, Vincent van Gogh went inside and shot himself in the stomach. He died two days later.

38 posted on 04/06/2004 1:16:35 PM PDT by presidio9 ("There are no mistakes -- only Happy Accidents." -Bob Ross)
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To: MJM59
The biggest hardship kids today have to face is when the cable goes out. Got news for you: Gen-Xers aren't kids anymore. They haven't been for some time now. Most of the victims of 9/11 were Gen-Xers. They were at work trying to earn an income in order to pay for the social security/medicare/great society/war on poverty spending spree their grandparents went on when they ran this country.
39 posted on 04/06/2004 1:44:50 PM PDT by bobjam
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To: presidio9
Presidio, you state that Nirvana was one of the most important bands in Rock N' Roll history. Why?
40 posted on 04/06/2004 2:35:47 PM PDT by GeorgiaMike
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