Kurt Cobain 1967 - 1994

Friday, April 8, 1994 started just like any other day for me.

On the bus to school that morning, I listened to the same tape I always did; on one side was Nirvana’s Nevermind album, and on the other was Incesticide. It wasn’t until I saw one of my female classmates crying in the hallway during lunchtime that I realized something was amiss.

I sat down beside her and asked what the matter was. She turned to me, her eyeliner running down her cheeks with a look of shock and horror etched on her face. “Oh god, it’s horrible,” she said. “Kurt’s dead.” I wasn’t even 13 years old then and the first hero that I ever had apparently had killed himself. Kurt Cobain was the one person that I looked up to most, and then he was gone. I was so shocked and hurt that I just sat down outside that social studies classroom and cried along with my friend.

“What else should I be?” Kurt Cobain wasn’t just a rock star; the Nirvana frontman was an example to every kid that felt alienated at school.

Kurt understood the plight of us kids that got picked on at school by the jocks and the popular kids; he was one of us. Nirvana fans didn’t see an idol in Cobain, they saw themselves. In Kurt, a generation found a voice for their anger. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” became the anthem of generation Y; a song so angry the lyrics are nearly unintelligible. Anemic royalty, Kurt took pride in being the king of incoherence, humility and self-loathing.

“What else should I write?”

It has been a decade since an electrician found Kurt lying on the floor of his greenhouse, surrounded by heroin paraphernalia and an M-11 20-gauge Remington shotgun, the apparent cause of death.

Although it is largely accepted that Kurt committed suicide, there are some who would dispute that claim. The coroner that handled Kurt’s case never proved conclusively that the wound that killed Kurt was self-inflicted, but the police have never investigated the possibility of murder. The strongest opposition to the suicide theory thus far was the documentary Kurt and Courtney, which alleged that Kurt’s widow Courtney Love was somehow involved in a murder plot to kill her husband for his money and control of the Nirvana catalogue. While I’m not entirely convinced that Kurt committed suicide, there seems to be a lack of evidence supporting any of the other theories.

“Here we are now, entertain us.”

In the 10 years since his death, Cobain has gone from tragic hero to rock martyr, a celebrated victim of his own fame who would rather be dead than cool. Few would dispute the fact that Nirvana changed the music business in a very profound way and that no band since can claim to have been half as innovative or made anywhere near the impact Nirvana did.

“What else should I say?”

It is now 2004, and I have had 10 years to reflect on the death of the first and last person that I ever held dear as an idol.

You swear it’s not a trend, but it doesn’t matter anyway. I tried to put his death in perspective this week asking myself: would the world be a better place had Kurt not died that April morning? What kind of music would Nirvana be making if they were still together? Would the Foo Fighters ever have existed? Would Courtney Love be as crazy as she is, ruining the life of their only daughter, Frances Bean? Sadly, the world will never know the answer to these questions, and while “You Know You’re Right” was a welcome breath of fresh air on the airwaves this past summer, it only served to drive home the point that there will never be another new Nirvana album.

“All apologies.” Over the years my anger has turned to sadness for a man that was so brilliant, and yet so troubled. For his gift we should all feel blessed; a star too bright that it burnt out, instead of fading away. Kurt, there is nothing else that I can say, that I haven’t thought before, or that someone else hasn’t said before.

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