I have a confession. I’ve always hated Nirvana. More specifically, Kurt Cobain. This is a strange thing for a 20 year old to say; Nirvana was and is a really popular band. An emotional outlet for millions of people my age. But I had my reasons.
I remember the first time I heard them, my cousin Mary was playing their CD, probably Nevermind. “How dumb is this, you can’t even understand what he’s saying.” I never made much of an effort to try to listen to them. Never saw the appeal. Or rather… since I never listened, I never saw the appeal.
Then I listened. I heard a track on the radio by the name of Lithium. I could relate to this. I could hear the message. What? This is Nirvana? So then I listened to some of their other stuff Save Yourself, All Apologies, About A Girl. Their unplugged stuff is nothing short of incredible. All great music.
I still didn’t care for Kurt though. I remember being at a kids *cough* bible study group *cough* (again, with Mary). The group leader told us all that it was ok to be upset right now. “Why?”, I asked. “Kurt Cobain shot himself.”
I remember my thoughts, “What an idiot.” I later found out he had a wife and child. Then I really looked down on him. How could a man leave his wife and kid like that? How selfish. And this is a man that had millions of pictures of himself printed on t-shirts that sadly say “1967-1994”.
Then I caught a small bit of Nirvana on VH1. Found out Kurt was heavy into drugs. “Well, that makes sense then. But why did he have to mess with drugs? He was so successful, could have been so happy. What a waste.”
But then I read this today. It’s an excerpt from one of his journals.
(Note, these obviously aren’t mine. Don’t sue me.)
ABOUT A BOY
I like punk rock. I like girls with weird eyes. I like drugs. (But my Body And mind won’t allow me to take them). I like passion. I like playing my cards wrong. I like vinyl. I like to feel guilty for being a white, American male. I love to sleep. I like to taunt small, barking dogs in parked cars. I like to make people feel happy and superior in their reaction towards my appearance. I like to have strong opinions with nothing to back them up with besides my primal sincerity. I like sincerity. I lack sincerity … I like to complain and do nothing to make things better. I like to blame my parents generation for coming so close to social change then giving up after a few successful efforts by the media & Government to deface the movement by using Mansons and other Hippie representatives as propaganda examples on how they were nothing but unpatriotic, communist, satanic, inhuman diseases. and in turn the baby boomers become the ultimate, conforming, Yuppie hypocrites a generation has ever produced.
Within the months between October 1991 thru December 92 I have had 4 four notebooks filled with two years worth of poetry and personal writing … The most violating thing ive felt this year is not the media exxagerations or the catty gossip, but the rape of my personal thoughts. Ripped out of pages from my stay in hospitals and aeroplane rides hotel stays etc. I feel compelled to say f—k you F—k you to those of you who have absolutely no regard for me as a person. You have raped me harder than you’ll ever know.
Wow. Now I understand. And I feel so bad for not giving him a chance sooner. He was so beyond troubled, and everything he did, all he became, all of his successes only made it worse. It wasn’t like this was a man who was just fucked up all the time, and on drugs for fun. He was a smart person, dedicated. He turned to drugs to try to alleviate physical pain, not just his depression.
Apparently, next month a group of these are going to be published in a book called “Journals”. I don’t know that this is ok, or if Kurt would want it to happen (especially after reading the above entry). But there’s a chance, I think, that Kurt would want his fans to know why he did what he did, and then to move on. He didn’t want to be some Pop Culture icon – he just wanted his message to get out. He wanted to tell someone who cared.
I’m sorry Kurt, I underestimated you.