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KURT 11 YEARS LATER

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I woke up this April 5th morning and it hit me just the same as always. I remember posting this article in BlogCritics a few years back and wondered what I could say this time, 11 years after Kurt’s passing. Many people ask me why I would still care about the alleged suicide death of Kurt Cobain 11 years after the fact. I think it is partially about using this time to look back to my high school years and the way music was, rock seemed to be more genuine and have more meaning back then. That’s not to say there isn’t a message in some of the rock music we hear today, but overall the new rock world is plagued by watered down acts trying desperately to sound like Nirvana and Alice In Chains.

I would argue that the first two bands that started the “New Rock” as opposed to the “Alternative” era were Bush and Silverchair. Radio was becomming even more commercial and lables seemingly wanted to sign acts that sounded like what was popular in the “Alternative” rock world at the time. These bands sounded close enough to the popular “grunge” sound of the early 90s (remember at one point that bands that neither sounded all that “grunge” and were not from Seattle began to be called “grunge” anyway i.e. Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead) that the Corporate Suits at record lables were willing to take a chance and invest in them. Don’t ask me where Bush is now, I think Gavin just writes music for his wife Gwen. Horrible solo album. But I digress.

This day should be about Kurt Cobain. It should not be about Nirvana, it should not even be about Layne Staley who passed away around the same day a few years later. We should remember Cobain’s contributions to music, his capturing a generations heart and hopes (or lack thereof) and angst towards the establishment. Nirvana mattered, and Kurt made Nirvana possible. It was his vision, perhaps his destiny. Those who say the music world isn’t missing much due to his death should reconsider.

I would have loved to se Kurt collaborate with Michael Stipe as he once wished. Two of the most soulful rock stars that ever made it in this business. Remebering Kurt still matters to me, not only as an artist but as a human being who possesed much awareness and passion about his generation. Kurts words and music stood for something greater than the sum of its parts and if you grew up during that era, you already know that to be true. By the way, pick up the box set, it’s worth it.

Kurt, you are missed. Rest in peace.

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About jason

  • BRICKLAYER

    That’s a cool point you make about Bush and Silverchair, but I would also add Stone Temple Pilots to that.

    I understand what you’re saying about today’s rock music, but I think it’s a generational thing. For me, bands like the Replacements, Husker Du, Ramones, Black Flag, Slayer, Iron Maiden were the bands I loved in my teenage years (and still do), and I think each generation affixes themselves to the music of that period where they’re coming of age, and feels that’s the truest, best stuff. But I also think there is tons of great stuff being released today also, just not what the mega-industrial military complex affiliated major labels are offering. I say this as I listen to Rubber Soul and the Stone’s London Years singles collection, but just before that I played the new Beck and the new Chariot.

    Anyway, I had forgotten today was the anniversary, so thanks for the reminder.

    Corporate Rock still sucks!
    Death to False Metal!

  • http://faeryface.diaryland.com Katharine Donelson

    Gavin Rossdale has a new band, I think they’re called the Institute. I think Gwen gets most of the credit for the writing on her solo debut. And, Daniel Johns has even moved on.

    Nirvana was never a top ten for me, but they were still pretty amazing. Kurt’s contribution to the music world should be acknowledged and remembered.

    I have to agree with Bricklayer about it being a generational thing. A lot of the new stuff that I listen to is good, but I’m not 16 anymore so what I get out of it now is nothing like what I got out of listening to Sound Garden and Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana.

  • http://www.getyouroj.com jason

    Wonderful feedback thanks

  • Cpt. Willard

    Cobain was one of the last artists who openly challenged the music industry. After his death we got stuck with green day and blink 182, both supposedly were some kind of punk rock entities, sure. It seemed that when Nirvana went belly up the music execs were quite happy to fill the airwaves with pure garbage. Afer his death we were being asked :do you have the time to listen to me whine? Well it’s been a decade now and the answer is still NO! I’m still waiting for the return of real bands like Nirvana or Alice in Chains. Compare their lyrical content to that of the above mentioned bands, and well, there is no way you cannot see who comes out on top. I’m not trying to pick on anyone and their musical tastes. And yes, there are a few good new groups out there but on the whole it seems that the meaning behind the music has become so plastic. In the decade since Cobain’s death we’ve had too endure so many groups who’d rather dress up and act silly, rather than make important music. It makes me wonder if the music industry would rather us listen to noisey junk, than meaningful tunes. Last month Virgin in London capitalised on Cobain’s ten year anniversary. The store was filled with black billboards reminding the shopper that Kurt had died ten years ago and that we could remember him and Nirvana by buying all they had to offer. It was sickening to see him being used in this fashion. Real music fans will always keep alive the memory of Nirvana/AIC/Jeff Buckley/SRV and so on, because the were and are important.

    Go out and buy some Days of the New.

    up the Irons!

  • http://mike.shelikesit.net MRBenning

    Music moves in spurts of 5-10 years. Six years ago nothing was happening in music. Even though I don’t connect the same way I used to with music, now that the boy bands are out of the picture things are interesting again.

    People big or important in the music scene that are interesting now: The Postal Service, Interpol, The White Stripes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Hives, and quite a few others that I’m sure I’m forgetting. I’ll admit some of these have been recording within the last six years, but they’re finally getting the attention they deserve.

    I miss Kurt Cobain as well. And I remember his passion fondly. I think it’s important, though, as Bricklayer said, to acknowledge the generational thing. I’m sure that fans of Zeppelin were looking at Nirvana and Pearl Jam and saying “those guys don’t take themselves seriously at all. We know what rock n’ roll is.”

    Every generation has a musician that fights the label establishment. It’ll be interesting to see, after the dust clears from this rotation, who picks up the torch for the 2000s.

  • http://www.getyouroj.com jason

    Those rock bands the last person mentioned… I don;t find them interesting one bit. White Stripes? Interpol?

    Blah. Boring. Less interesting than even Shady/Aftermath fodder.

    So watered down, so done a million times. Ick.

  • Cpt. Willard

    how come all of the bands mentioned in (comment 5) sound and look the same? Is this to do with their genre? And what exactly do you call that genre? I’ve ignored these bands and the like since they started popping up in 2000. I’m just a bit curious though.

  • http://www.getyouroj.com jason

    Well apparently “nothing stupid and contageous: doesn’t apply to these music fans, Capt. Will

  • http://mike.shelikesit.net MRBenning

    I guess I didn’t make it apparent that I was talking about rock music that challenges label conventions.

    But since you mentioned stupid and contageous, I will let you in on a secret: I like The Marshall Mathers LP and newer Kylie Minogue (the epitome of stupid and contageous, thanks to her producers). Oh, and while I do like some White Stipes music, I don’t like it all. Just notable for the context. Same with The Hives. Sorry for the mix up.

    But, since I wasn’t talking about what I like, and instead was talking about a movement in rock relative to grunge or 70’s hard rock, let’s look at that:
    Just like Grunge was the trend in 1992, Indie Rock is now the current trend, though the term indie no longer applies to not having a label, and instead to having a raw production sound loosely connected to punk (just like grunge? yes!).

    Nirvana didn’t become notable until about 4 years into their career. They didn’t receive any airplay (aside from college stations) until Nevermind came out, and that was after they did their stint on Sub Pop. Some of the bands I mentioned are still early in their careers, some are still on Sub Pop, but they’re on their way to breaking out.

    My point was just that real bands are out there, but I’m still wondering, like Nirvana was to Grunge, who’s the flagship of this movement called Indie Rock?

    And Jason, who do you find interesting and notable to today’s rock music scene?

  • http://www.getyouroj.com jason

    Your points are well thought out, I just think you’re looking for something that isn’t there. There is no flagship for rock music. Rock is not really relevant right now. It’s not pushing any envelopes. And something is not indy just because it has some sort of raw sound.

    If I had to pick one person in rock who is at least a good songwriter, a good craftsman at what he does, I would say Beck.

    If I had to pick someone to lable as some sort of Kurt Cobain of this generation who challenges conventions, I would say Marshal Matthers because at least he speaks out against Bush (whether it is his true feelings or not, who knows) and he has his own label on a much bigger (corporate) label and the ability to sign more acts onto said label (which in most cases i.e. Obie and Fiddy is not such a great thing).

    So, to recap: What flagship? What movement? Maybe radio wants us to think their is some sort of nu-Indy movement, but I’m not buying what they are selling.

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    Really good post and comments.

    I’m reminded of something really random. In college, I lived with nine guys. One of my best friends took it upon himself to create superhero characters out of all the guys, based upon personality quirks and so on (our friend Jake was dubbed Mo-Mood-o as he could be dour at times… therefore his super power was the ability to suck all the joy out of a room).

    Anyway, there were two people left at the end of his depiction — a really good sketch of all the guys in superhero garb: the artist and myself.

    In a burst of inspiration, we became the “TV Twins.”

    Written on his tee-shirt: Alice in Chains
    Written on mine: Nirvana

    I miss Kurt, I miss Nirvana, and some days I miss college and the 90s a lot.

  • http://www.cdbaby.com/X-15 Douglas Mays

    interesting…it was announced yesterday that Nirvana was added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress. Boy oh boy, joinin’ the ranks Glenn Miller, Thelonious Monk and all that stuff. There was more going on than I thought in their music…I guess the grunge period was a time of productivity and economic growth in the USA.

    I noticed in the comments seemed centered around what makes a good thing. hhhmmm…let me get your feedback on this: OK, the most ignored demographic by the recording industry are the folks that fall into about the 30-60 year old range. This generation can still rock. And they are the ones that actually make the money. We are all tired of our old Led Zeppelin and Buzzcocks and all that. We need something new that we understand. This stuff coming out today just doesn’t light the house up like rock as we knew it. But you know, there are bands that exist out there, maybe a bit older but still looking good and sounding better than ever….

    I would like to see some experience unknowns signed. I might like it.

    Oh yeah, thanks Kurt for being you and getting out there and making your statement, big time….

    peaceloveguidance

  • http://mike.shelikesit.net MRBenning

    It’s been said countless times that no band will ever captivate the world like The Beatles did. There are just too many outlets for music these days. So many bands come out that it’s hard to give them all proper attention.

    It just might be possible that you can say the same with Nirvana. The music scene has changed so much in the last 13 years that we may never see a movement as fast or prolific as grunge.

    I still think there are things happening today. They’re just not as noticeable.

  • http://home.comcast.net/~proy1/ Paul Roy

    Jesus, I hope I’m not the only one to think that Cobain was way overated. Was grunge-rock really such a godsend? Give me 80’s hair-metal any day.

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com Eric Berlin

    MR – You make a great point. I’ve been waiting around for years for another Nirvana moment, such as the one where I came from high school one day and saw “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on MTV. I thought, “Wow, this is different. Really different.” It blew my mind, and I never saw music the same way again.

    So maybe it’s a generational thing. Maybe… Coldplay (or something?) is the Nirvana for the youngsters of today. I doubt it, personally, but I’m not of an age anymore, I suppose.

  • shayla

    well i never grew up in the 90s but do not get the greatness of “todays music” i would have loved to be a teenager in the 90s, i never knew of Nirvana till around his 8 year anerversary, i have all albums and there so amasing and the way everyone goes on, makes me wish i was old enough to know of his when he was actually alive. you can totally get lost im his music, and it so would be nice if his stuff could be re released (how it was never change or update it) today, let people re discover it, then it will almost be like it i guess. seriously no band could ever replace the movement they aparently made, but it would be nice for another huge rock movement not rnb, rap or anyother stuff like the “poppycock” out today, not even pop rock, but some amazing thing like nirvana, it will never happen as the worlds moved on its all bout rap and urban stuff, which i dnt get, why is that so amazing…its not, and its a shame . nirvana sadly will never be again, nithing like nirvana (decent music) will never hppen again!