Note: This is from a now defunct blog I had on Blogger a few years ago. Felt the need to re-post here today.
Whether you loved Kurt Cobain or just didn’t “get” Nirvana, there’s no denying the magnitude of loss the music community experienced the day he died, April 5th, 1994. I remember where I was when I heard the news. I was getting ready for work and was watching MTV when they announced his death. I was shocked, but not surprised. I called all my friends to make sure they had heard it too. This was long before cell phones. Some were huge Nirvana fans, some were casual listeners and others couldn’t stand them but the reactions were all the same: “Holy shit!”
It was time for a change. Music was at a crossroads and waiting for a band like Nirvana to breakthrough. Hair bands had become nothing but a parody of themselves and losing popularity while Axl and Gun’s N’ Roses were beginning to implode.
Then Nirvana came along. This wasn’t your parents music. This was not music designed by the corporations. This was music by the kids for the kids. This was music by people who looked like we did. No big hair and makeup. This was jeans and sneakers.
Depending on the point of view you subscribed to, Nirvana either changed music for the better or completely ruined the indie/alternative landscape. (I personally stand firmly in the center of that debate.) It seemed like overnight Nirvana exploded and suddenly there were a slew of “grunge” bands getting record deals and gaining exposure on the airwaves. What was once an underground movement was now Top 40. It was a great time to be a music fan!
And, it meant something. This wasn’t music about partying all the time. This was music trying to fight back against the establishment, even though, at times, it wasn’t quite sure how to. It was music about figuring out the world around you, and where in it, you fit in.
And, it struck a nerve.
For me, it was finally music that spoke to me, not at me. It was a time when the future was uncertain and we were trying anything and everything not to face it. We wanted to be ourselves; as soon as we could figure out who that was.
We hung out in the back of a supermarket parking lot; empty beer bottles lining the curb that were left for the homeless to pick up. Music was the one thing that kept us connected. It spurred arguments, conversations; philosophical and meaningless, and on occasion, both simultaneously.
It caused fights and love affairs, breakups and forged friendships that would last forever.
Now while Nirvana wasn’t the only band, it was Smells Like Teen Spirit that opened up our ears and eyes. And, with that one song, Kurt Cobain became the reluctant hero to a discontented generation. We found our voice in his.
Whether he wanted it or not, Kurt Cobain was crowned the King of Generation X.
He made a generation feel understood and needed. He made them self aware and made them feel wanted. They were finally heard.
His words gave them comfort and kept them company. He let them know they were not alone.
And for that, Kurt, I say rest in peace…rest in peace.