Kurt Cobain died 10 years ago – his myth is larger and his place in rock history more secure than ever before. Ultimately he was a sad little man who chose the easy way out, leaving his wife and daughter to fend for themselves in a cold, cruel world. But his music is indelible. My MSNBC.com story:
- 10 Years Later, Cobain Lives on in His Music:
Troubled singer/songwriter transformed the personal to the universal
Quoting Neil Young – “it’s better to burn out than to fade away” – Nirvana singer, songwriter and guitarist Kurt Cobain put a shotgun under his chin and ended his short, sad life of 27 years on April 5, 1994. He left behind toddler daughter Frances Bean, wife Courtney Love, a legion of stunned fans, and a small body of music that changed the course of rock history.
In the intervening decade, Cobain, a small, frail but handsome man in life, has become an abstract Generation X icon, viewed by many as the “last real rock star” (oddly, “real rock stars” Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison all died at 27), a messiah and martyr whose every utterance has been plundered and parsed, whose childhood home sold for five-times its real estate value, as if his lingering aura still charged the air with some tangible magic.
A cynic might charge that the heroin-addicted Cobain’s best career move was to die young and violently – and in a sense his self-annihilation did confirm an unwillingness to “compromise,” to reconcile his self-loathing with his newfound fame and fortune – but this would ignore the brilliance and significance of his best work, in particular the mega-platinum 1991 album “Nevermind” (more than 14 million copies sold), that established not just “grunge” (the Seattle-based hybrid of punk and big-riff metal), but also the cultural and commercial viability of alternative rock in general.
Nirvana – the trio of Cobain, bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl (now the leader of Foo Fighters) – formed in Cobain’s hometown of Aberdeen, Washington, in the late ’80s and drifted to Seattle by way of Olympia. Their first album, “Bleach,” displayed Cobain’s gift for combining raging rock power with emotional vulnerability, but on “Nevermind,” produced with the buoyancy of a pop record by Butch Vig, Cobain’s melodic touch fused perfectly with his ragged guitar roar to produce the album of the decade and one of the cornerstones of rock history……
Please click over for the whole story and to vote in the Nirvana song poll.
raig Lyndall has more on Cobain here.