I wish I had something really deep to write, looking back upon seventeen years ago.

But the truth is, I only realized what anniversary it was today. I don’t even have a clever title (nostalgie de la boue? nah, keep it simple, dude).

In fact, I actually have a lot to write on the man, his music, and what it meant to me growing up.

For those many of you on the Planet who are Boomers; children who came of age in the 60s, you may not get it, but I think you can relate. You lost a lot of your own brightest voices. I can only think that this was like our generation’s version of losing John Lennon (though under different circumstances).

This was one of those seminal moments in my life. I lost one of the few “stars” (and I loved that he hated that) I could genuinely relate to personally, and geographically.

On April 5th, 1994, when I was in 8th grade, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana shot himself with a shotgun in his Lake Washington, Seattle home. On April 8th, his body was found. He had joined the 27 Club.

I don’t remember what I was doing in Seattle, if it was a pre-planned family trip to Seattle or my relatives north of there, but on April 10th  (Spring Break?) I distinctly remember the hotel room skyscraper we were staying in downtown, and being able to watch MTV while looking out the window to see this happening simultaneously:

I’m going to assume most of you don’t know Washington (the state goddamit!), but even though I lived most my life only 2½ hours away, there’s really no reason to go to the old lumber mill town of Aberdeen, and I hadn’t been until June of 2010 on a trip back to my native state. I figured this would be as fitting a time as any to share just one portion of that trip.

This is a bridge near Felony Flats in Aberdeen over the Wishkah River (from the Chehalis word hwish-kahl, “stinking water”). After school, Kurt and sometimes friends would hang hang out under it. The house where he grew up was a few blocks to the left of the bridge in this photo. I had the good sense of decency not to go looking for it. In any case, it was here that part of his ashes were spread.

It was like a bit of a pilgrimage. I spent a couple minutes in silence under that bridge. It was one of the closest moments I’ve had to something of a spiritual feeling–as silly as I know that sounds. It was like connecting with friend I never got to meet, but I could feel part of him there, someone who reminded me of, well, a bit of me.

 

 

 

 

There’s a funny story to this plaque. If you notice, a certain word among his quotes appears to be tampered with.

 

 

 

Out of the ground
Into the sky
Out of the sky
Into the dirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The song “Something in the Way” was a reference to this spot.

 

(Preview pic courtesy Mïk Watson)

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whatsthatsound
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From Bowie, to Kurt

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Questinia
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Kurt was stone cold the best song writer of a generation. Even the songs he wrote for Courtney were decent. I still listen to Nirvana just because they’re awesome. I try not to assign anything beyond the fact that they were an excellent band with excellent songs.

I feel the same way, more or less, about Jeff Buckley.

I guess it’s better to have heard them and lost them than never to have heard them at all.

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ADONAI
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I miss you Kurt.

[img]http://www.fanoftheband.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/nirvana.jpg[/img]

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Pepe Lepew
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How interesting, we went to a Foo Fighters movie last night and they talked a lot about Cobain for about the first 30 minutes of the movie.

I saw Nirvana in the Salem Armory maybe five or six months before Cobain died. He looked terrible. He just stood in front of the mic barely moving and Pat Smear played most of his guitar parts. I know it’s easy to say now, but at the time, I thought, “that guy isn’t going to last much longer.”

His death didn’t affect me as much as John Lennon’s or even Stevie Ray Vaughan’s. To be honest, at the time, my reaction was “another dumbshit rock star who couldn’t handle success.” I was actually angry about it. I was angry at him.

Years afterward, I read his biography and I think I understood him a little better. He had a hard life; broken home, constantly moving and changing houses. He never really connected to anything, not to his family and not to Aberdeen. It sounded like for a brief time when he was sleeping on people’s couches in Olympia playing gigs for pocket money, he approached something nearing happiness. The only thing he connected to was music. I think he was completely lost, and in the end the music wasn’t enough. It was obvious he was deeply troubled and in a lot of pain (even physically, he had some painful condition with his gut), probably officially clinically depressed and maybe even bipolar, and instead of getting real help, he self-medicated with heroin. If you read Nirvana’s lyrics, most of their songs were pretty dark and grim, and you can see now the pain that drove those lyrics.

The funny thing is, I have all of their CDs, but I can’t even listen to Nirvana anymore. I just find it too depressing, especially after reading his biography.

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KillgoreTrout
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Thanks Pepe for answering the question I put to Khirad about why Cobain killed himself. I really didn’t know, and was curious.

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ParadisePlacebo74
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ParadisePlacebo74

I guess I’m about as gen-x as they come, ’cause I knew exactly what this article would be about as soon as I read the title. I even had “Something in the Way” playing in the back of my mind as I started reading.

I was living up in Everett, WA at the time he died, having moved there from central Florida when I got out of high school in ’92. I really liked Nirvana, and owned all of their albums, but I wasn’t fanatical about them like so many others. They were just another foundational group in the realm of all things grunge, and I didn’t really fit in with any music scene at the time — though I’ve come to love that genre more and more as the years have past. The reactions to his death that I observed seemed to be very mixed. Some young people were ambivalent, saying that he was just another famous addict that didn’t make it out alive — while others showed a deep sadness and loss of direction. I’ve stayed somewhere in between. He was one of the most unique lyricists I’ve ever experienced. He could make a person question how they felt about the world without actually reminding them of anything cohesive. I remember driving around downtown Seattle with a friend a couple of years later, stoned out of our minds and listening to Cobain play noise guitar to William S. Burroughs insane spoken word on “The Priest They Called Him”, and really being affected by his unique musical style. I think he would be one of the most influential personalities in modern times, if he hadn’t had that terrible moment of desperation.

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KillgoreTrout
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Khirad, now I know how Gen Xers and other young people feel when they listen to Boomers talk about 60s music. I don’t know much about Nirvana and Cobain. I did enjoy a few bands in the 90s, like Toad the Wet Sprocket, and Melissa Etheridge.
In the 90s, I was pretty heavy into blues bands. I didn’t have much to relate to with younger musicians, being older than them.
Why did Cobain decide to, “make his exit?” Was it severe depression or something else?
I have mixed feelings about suicide. I feel a person has a right to end their own life, if that is indeed what they want. But I also consider it to be the easy way out. (my father’s opinion passed on to me).
I do know how you feel about losing a favorite artist though. Like anybody from the 60s must feel. I remember going to a candle light vigil in Boston Commons the day after Lennon was assassinated. Standing with hundreds of others, holding a candle in a slow, cold drizzle while singing some of the best of Lennon’s songs. I was truly stunned when I heard Howard Cosell announce it on Monday Night football. To this day, I still grieve at times when thinking about it or seeing a special on TV or whatever.

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Haruko Haruhara
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This is one Foo Fighters song actually about Kurt Cobain…

… unlike the 33 other Foo Fighter songs people claim are about Kurt Cobain

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agrippa
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agrippa

I am old – 65 – but, I see that he meant a lot to you. Suicide is quite tragic.

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KQµårk 死神
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Excellent tribute to Kurt Cobain’s memory Khirad.

I’m more in WTS’s generation as well but I thought the 90’s was an incredible decade for music. The rawness and angst of alternative and rap as well where just an incredible reflection of those times. Young people knew something was wrong but they didn’t quite have their finger on what was wrong yet.

We were lucky enough to live in Jax Fl at the time near Five Points which if anyone knows the area is the tiny artsy area in Jax. We use to see members from Limp Bizkit, Everclear and other local bands all the time. Remind me to tell you a couple stories about Fred Durst and his antics. Though we lived there far after the golden age of Southern Rock bands like Molly Hatchet, The Allman Brothers Band, 38 Special, The Outlaws, and Lynyrd Skynyrd who recorded there.

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whatsthatsound
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Nicely done, Khirad.
I’m not quite a boomer; my music was Zeppelin, Skynyrd, The Who, Bowie, and then later The Clash, The Pretenders, The Talking Heads, and REM. I only got into alt rock at all because I was living in Oakland at the time and drove a lot into S.F., so I had it on my radio. I remember hearing “Even Flow” by Pearl Jam, and totally getting into it, but at the same time thinking it was nothing new. It sounded like Mountain, a band from my generation that never quite made it.
Nirvana, and Cobain’s significance, I have to admit, I just didn’t get. But then my generation didn’t really have anything comparable to Hendrix, Janis or Lennon and their tragic deaths. Keith Moon? A legend, yes, but hardly a poet. Ian Curtis, I suppose, but the great waves of mourning for him were mostly limited to the other side of the pond.

Anyway, here’s to those whose flames burn only briefly!

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escribacat
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Whats–Mountain was the first concert I ever went to, at age 13. Nantucket Sleigh Ride!! And I probably saw you at the Fab Mab (Mabuhey Gardens) in SF in the 80s, dancing to Romeo Void or the Dead Kennedys or Jim Carroll or Oingo Boingo.

I didn’t hear much in the 90s that I was really crazy about. I think Dave Matthews is a great musician. But I also didn’t get Nirvana or Pearl Jam. My niece was obsessed with Pearl Jam. I always thought his voice — to quote Henry Miller — sounded like a goose farting.

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whatsthatsound
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A goose farting? I have no idea what that sounds like, but I’m guessing not Eddie Vedder! 🙂 Besides, like I said, his voice reminds me of the singer/guitarist of Mountain, Leslie West. Ditto the screaming, searing guitar leads. I’m surprised Vedder never mentions them as an influence, because he is never shy about naming, and covering, his idols.

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escribacat
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Whats–Okay I confess. I’ve never heard a goose farting. 😆 It’s just a line from Henry Miller I’ve always wanted to use (he uses it to describe his father laughing, I think). So it’s how I imagine it would sound if a goose farted. Kind of like goose honking only … worse. I do seriously dislike Eddie Vedder’s voice, not sure why. I mean, I find it extremely irritating.

I will have to listen to Mountain again because I can’t remember if they sound like P.J. or not. Anyway, I like Nirvana better than Pearl Jam but never understood the connection that Khirad describes. However…I felt that way about the Clash.

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whatsthatsound
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The Clash? Coolness, e-cat. “Death or Glory” is one of my all time favorite songs.

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whatsthatsound
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Khirad, do you mean you are confused about me not getting into Nirvana so much even though I like The Clash? It’s just that I wasn’t as into music, in general, during that time when I was living on the West Coast. I had my old familiars for home, and then I heard new stuff on the radio. I had other things on my mind then, like raising the baby, then moving to Japan, working, studying. So I never really gave Nirvana a chance, just because music was not a major priority then.

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jkkFL
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wts- interesting observation in the last paragraph.
When my nephew was in his late teens, we had a very interesting conversation about Jimi Hendrix- and the others who died during his era, which could apply here as well..
Would the star have burned as brightly, if those who died so young, had lived? Of course there was no conclusion, but it was fascinating!

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whatsthatsound
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Hey, jkk! Hendrix was heading into prog rock. One of the most interesting tidbits of Not Making This Up rock trivia I have ever come across was that he was all set to hook up with Keith Emerson and company and form a supergroup called H.E.L.P.
The other guys carried on to become the E.L.P. that one either loves or loathes today.
But if that had happened, prog rock would have been very different, I imagine. With his love for fashion, and his amazing guitar, he couldn’t have avoided the funk scene, so he either would have blown past prog after a short stint with HELP, or the two genres would have bridged somehow.
Morrison was heading more and more into gruff blues. Janis probably couldn’t have sustained what she was doing. Pete Townshend could smash as many guitars as he wanted, but she only had ONE voice!
One thing’s for sure. None of those three would have produced something as weeny as “Someone’s Knocking at the Door” or “The Doggone Girl is Mine”.

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