Apr 052013

Is there an antonym for “anniversary?” As you probably know by now, today is the 19th “mortiversary” of Kurt Cobain. I didn’t fully appreciate Nirvana until their last album. I was barely bright enough to be able to tell that Cobain had something going on when Nevermind exploded, but I never liked the sound of that album, especially that stringy bass. I still don’t like the way those songs sound.

I was living in Hungary when In Utero came out. There wasn’t a lot of good music to be “spotted in the wild,” as our friend Rockodile Hunter might say. EuroMTV was playing some BritPop, which I liked, but mostly more Pet Shop Boys videos than I ever wanted to see. I was getting a little homesick for the straight-up rock ‘n roll from my homeland. When the video for “Heart-Shaped Box” hit, I jumped on it! The bass was heavier. The spooky imagery in the video was cool. The song reminded me of Pere Ubu. All good things. I ended up buying that album, paying the equivalent of $20 for the CD, which was hard for me to fork over. God bless America! God bless kick-ass stoner rock. Nirvana wasn’t so bad after all, even with Cobain’s string of totally annoying (to me, at least) ODs and other attention-grabbing attempts at disappearing. The whole thing came to a sad, crashing end when he shot himself. I don’t get caught up in the mystique of suicide; in fact, I rage against it. I still don’t feel anything alluring about Cobain’s very public agony, but I am glad I had just enough time to get a taste of what the band’s real fans were missing when he split.


  13 Responses to “Kurt Cobain’s 19th Mortiversary”

  1. I can listen to a select few of their songs. I think they (and Cobain) are extremely overrated.

    I know I am in a minority of this opinion.

  2. diskojoe

    I can’t believe it’s been nearly 20 years since Cobain died. I think that if he didn’t want to continue the way he was going & didn’t like the public glare, he should just have quit & go somewhere like on a retreat to find peace instead o fdoing what he did. Frankly, the Seattle band that I was into at that time was The Young Fresh Fellows. I tend to agree w/Mr. Clean.

  3. I agree. I don’t dislike them, I just don’t get what all the hubbub was about.

  4. Not one of my go to bands — but I think Nirvana had big impact. “In Utero” is a pretty good follow-up to a smash hit. Kurt deserves his place among the great dead rock stars.

    A friend of mine used to live in Cannon Falls, MN — where Nirvana cut “In Utero” at Pachyderm Studios. It’s nice little small town and my buddy ended up hanging with the band a bit. I don’t recall why exactly he was there — his girlfriend may have had some connection to the studio. Anyway, he said they were good guys — and Kurt was constantly doodling and drawing on stuff.

    When the band packed up and left — bands stayed in a house at the studio — a bunch of these Kurt scratch pads and stuff were left behind, and my pal rescued them from the trash.

    He told me this before Kurt died. He’s never mentioned it again, I’ve never brought it up, but he may have some valuable stuff packed away in some box.

  5. cliff sovinsanity

    If we’re going to have a serious discussion about Nirvana we need to separate the music, from the man (Kurt), and from the impact the album (Nevermind) had on radio and culture.

    The music: There was a sheen to Nevermind that made it palpable and radio friendly despite the fact that very little on rock radio resembled the content of the album.

    The man: Kurt wasn’t the savior of his generation. He didn’t ask for it. He was just like every other flea bag kid up on stage during the late 80’s pumping out aggressive music. He was fed on the teat of The Replacements, Squirrel Bait and Flipper. Have you ever gone from the garage to the arenas in less than 2 years ?? A lot of other have made a successful transition, but there is a wasteland of others who couldn’t deal with it. I seriously doubt Cobain ever thought that his little band would blow up the way that it did. Little did he know that he had a clever take on the hook (pop) and was able to translate that sound into anthems.

    The impact: Whether you agree with the direction of “Alternative Rock” in the nineties, it did allow greater exposure to small bands that would normally wouldn’t have had any success. And probably the greatest achievement of Nirvana was driving shitty ass glam metal and awful 80’s music off of radio.

    I’m not a huge fan of Nirvana but I own the 3 studio albums. They have actually aged well. It is so easy to pick on something that perhaps wasn’t yours to begin with.

  6. Not so certain his antic’s especially his ODs were merely attention grabbing. I heard that it could of been the meds themselves that made him the way he was. Its a fact that antidepressants can cause depression in vulnerable patients ie warning labels. At any rate I remember a poem about him. It began Curt, hurt, Cobain, unbearable pain. To me there is no emotional pain more unbearable than in believing that there no other choice than to kill oneself.

  7. cliff sovinsanity

    This might sound a little glib…heroin is a hell of drug.

  8. cherguevara

    First up, this photo:


    And I also agree with Mr. Clean, I think they were a very “one note” band – I don’t dislike them, but I can only stand them in limited doses. Plus, I think that “Unplugged” album is nearly atrocious.

    Cliff mentioned the “sheen” that Nevermind had, and I’m sure you probably know this already but the story as I read it was that they were looking at a list of potential mix engineers and when Cobain saw Andy Wallace’s credit for mixing Slayer, he said “that’s the guy.”

    At least Nirvana lead the way for bands that cleared the radio of that metal crap. Bands like Bush and Stone Temple Pilots. Yay.

  9. cliff sovinsanity

    Touché. No doubt that what was unleashed post-Nirvana was problematic in terms of hacks like Bush and STP. I’ll go even further and add Seven Mary Three, Alice In Chains, Candlebox, and Silverchair.
    Yet, before Nirvana I don’t recall hearing The Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Pavement, GBV, Sonic Youth, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion on the radio except on low watt public stations. Exposure these bands would not normally have received.
    Given the choice between the bands mentioned above and Poison, Great White, or Warrant which would you rather listen to ?

    I may be recalling the era with rose coloured glasses because of my age and musical awakening at the time. Yet, I don’t see why so many completely dismiss Nirvana and are afraid to admit that a good band had a major influence on a particular time in music. I would never disparage any band solely on the basis of their popularity and influence. Is Nirvana truly such a horrible thing?

  10. misterioso

    Mod, your experience of Nirvana is almost identical to mine (except for your positive views of Pere Ubu). 20+ years later I still have no interest in Nevermind. I hate the sound of that record. But there are some good songs there, and hearing them live and freed from the crap production made that clearer to me. I think In Utero is much better, and better still is the one Nirvana bootleg I have, Roma, from the last tour, and a lot of Unplugged. It was a sad, sad ending, though, and maybe that’s why I give Cobain and Nirvana basically a free pass for ushering in a lot of other horrible bands, to say nothing of the ongoing nightmare that is Courtney Love.

  11. I’m not a 90’s kid myself, but I have to go with Cliff on this. Nirvana (and their predecessors and a lot of what followed) were vastly better than what came before in a pop sense. I was familiar with a lot of their hallmarks from the Pixies, Meat Puppets, etc and I didn’t see it in Nirvana at 1st either (I walked out on an early Nirvana club appearance) but it took something that Nirvana had to bring that up to public notice. Sometime you need to ask a non-music-obsessive about these things.

  12. You know what STP song I like? That Big Bang Baby song! How many “influences” can you cram into one song?


  13. We need to remind ourselves that Courtney was independent of Kurt. She was an up and comer during the same period. Hole was her band and released their first album around the same time as Nevermind. Hole had it going on for a brief period.

    I do agree — Courtney is batshit crazy, but so what? She made some good music with Hole including a critical upgrade candidate “Celebrity Skin”

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