With all due respect, Kurt Cobain makes a poor excuse for a cultural icon. I don’t mean to discount his personal pain, or anything like that. Ten years ago today, though, the cat offed himself. Since then, a lot of people have set him up as some kind of great symbol, like some cheap rock and roll Christ figure who died for our sins or something.
Yuck, people. This guy was weak and suffering and did not ever seem to get any joy from his success. He was one miserable downer. Of all the musicians you could set up as your hero or idol, why this sad sack?
Camille Paglia made a similar point several years ago. She contrasted Cobain as a sad little lost boy, compared to the tough MEN of the 60s rock generation – Bob Dylan, Mick and Keef, etc.
It’s not like Nirvana’s music was all that. They only made about four albums, and none of them was a Sgt Pepper or Purple Rain. They did some good work, but it’s not like it was anything to lose your mind over a decade later. I don’t see anyone carrying on like this about Terence Trent D’Arby now, for example, and he’s FAR more accomplished on every musical level.
On the other hand, TTD didn’t tragically blow his brains out to complete some requirements for legendhood. What’s up with that? Does getting yourself dead somehow make you a greater artist retroactively?
What’s with this cheesy death cult stuff, anyway? What do people get from obsessing over these dead people? There are plenty of much more accomplished musicians who did not self-destruct you could cast as your golden calves.
Why would you set your mind on Kurt Cobain when you could just as easily be doting on Paul Simon or Prince? Call me crazy, but I’d much rather obsess over Graceland or Lovesexy rather than Cobain singing “I Hate Myself and Want to Die.” It’s a lot more fun – and a lot healthier as well.