I’ll try not to be too syrupy or over-nostalgic here, but Kurt Cobain really changed things for me musically in my formative years. I remember seeing the video for Smells Like Teen Spirit debut on 120 Minutes in the fall of ‘91. Unbeknownst to my parents, I was up late and watching MTV way past my bedtime. Those cheerleaders with the anarchy symbol, that razor blade voice, that drummer who bounced around like Animal from the Muppets… it was mesmerizing. I got the cassette tape for Nevermind that Christmas, and my Southern belle cousin couldn’t fathom why the lead singer of a band would give you the middle finger in a picture when you opened the liner notes. But I was hooked on this band. I bought the previous album, Bleach, and from then on… me and my friends would practice those power chords in a garage and aspire to make noise that achieved Nirvana.
Our amps and guitars became more tattered and our distortion more dirty.
I was a freshman in high school when someone ran up to me and told me that Kurt Cobain killed himself. The idea of suicide was straight out of the movie Heathers to me in 1994, and I didn’t quite know how to process the news that this singer was now gone forever. I never got a chance to see Nirvana play live, but I’m forever grateful that I grew up in a time when music was challenged. That glitz and glamour were meaningless and songs came from an honest and poignant place.
Whoops. I got syrupy there. Ah well. 20 years later… RIP Kurt Cobain.