Tuesday, April 7, 2009

15 Years

"Punk is musical freedom. It's saying, doing and playing what you want. In Webster's terms, 'nirvana' means freedom from pain, suffering and the external world, and that's pretty close to my definition of Punk Rock."
Kurt Cobain

This week brings us to the 15th anniversary of one of the events that changed my life. Music has always been very personal to me. But music didn't effect me as strongly as it did when I watched the video for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on MTV for the first time.

In 1992, I was 13 and finally breaking free of my NKOTB obsession. I had become bored of the pop music being jammed down my throat and my mother was on this country kick that I did not dig. So I am watching MTV and I heard the opening of SMTS and I was mesmerized. As cliche as it sounds, the song made sense to me. This was how I was feeling. And it was very raw.

Being the days before CDs were cheap and buying ca-singles was still very common, I took my $1.99 and purchased my Smells Like Teen Spirit/Been a Son cassette tape. I still have it. All my friend were moving into the rap genre of music and I stood my ground singing the praises of Kurt Cobain and preaching how his music has saved me from going crazy. Trying to get my friends to listen to Nirvana, Sound Garden, Pearl Jam. Seattle Grunge made me feel at home. Listening to Nirvana now still makes me feel at home.

Then it happened. I was 15, I came home, turned on the television and hear Kurt Loder say that Kurt was gone. This was more than my mind could comprehend. I have never lost anyone in my family, so dealing with death of someone I, in my heart and soul, felt changed my life was devastating. I didn't understand and became almost obsessed with suicide. Not committing it, but why others did. I checked books out from the library and read and read. I was sad that Kurt was in that much pain and cringed when I heard on the news that someone followed in his footsteps.

Five Years ago, there was still a lot of conspiracies going around regarding Kurt's death. Mainly that Courtney had something to do with it. It made me angry. I found the journal entry I wrote in 2004 at the 10 year mark.

So coming upon the 10 year anniversary of his death....It is plastered everywhere.
Local radio stations doing all day vigils *with no commercial interruption*
Dateline making a huge marketing deal out of it, just to go over the same crap everyone else has in years past.
Watching some balding man with a cheesy radio voice ask some nobody who wrote a book questions about how someone died...It's so old and boring. wasn't interesting. highly irritating.

It would have be cool to have him around, cool to see what kind of music came around . (if any at all)

It's easier for most to leave it at a suicide, and who knows, maybe she did fucking do it.

Why put ourselves through heartache and wonder. Just remember what we have now and who gave it to us. It is probably best that way.

I, being older then most of the people who claim to be fans, was 15 when it occurred. Old enough to comprehend the impact, old enough to understand the loss. These kids who were 3 or 4, thought they can claim to be fans, they will never appreciate the true impact of the music and the man. And as cheesy as it may come across, I still feel a pain, I still listen to the music, I still appreciate what it did in my life and the society around me. Ten years is a long time. Maybe he would have influenced the music in a different way, maybe retirement was the road ahead. Would we have given a shit if he were still alive? Or was it the death that made the appeal? The point I guess of my little rant here is we will never know for sure what might have been, but why continue in conspiracy theories and bullshit. It was about the music and nothing else. And I, with some of the other people who might read this, can appreciate what we have.


I still get a pain when I see a 12 year old running around in what may have been their parent's T-shirt. Those of us old enough to know and remember are really lucky. It was always about the music for me, it still is. So this week, I will remember that time with a little less anger I had five years ago, be thankful I was a part of it in my own little way, and continue to listen. As years have gone on, songs have changed meanings, some stand out more than they used too. That to me is signs of genius. It doesn't stay the same, it grows with you.

"The duty of youth is to challenge corruption."
Kurt Cobain


M said...

I have had a few kids come into my office with Kurt shirts on and I just want to ask if they were even alive when he was or if they actually know him or the band for something more than being on a shirt. I'm not a big fan but it pisses me off that they more than likely have no idea.

Laura said...

You know I am totally with you on this one, sister. On a lighter note, Neil and I consider Kurt to now be the Patron Saint of Good Parking Spaces. I'm not even sure how this started, but whenever we get a good spot, we say, "Thank you Mr. Cobain!" We are dorks and we miss him.

Bjorn said...

I was there too. I was not a huge nirvana fan but a pumpkins fan. I still liked all of it though. I was 12 or 13 in 1993 when i heard them. my world changed from the pop/top40 station to guitars. life has been good since them.

I found the Pixies becuase of Nirvana and I love them for it. Pixies are awesome.

Sasha said...

In 1993 I was...uh, I'm not going to tell you how old I was. You can do your own subtraction and come to the conclusion that I am elderly. :p Anyway, I still feel very nostalgic about music from that time period. I'm still a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan and although I wasn't as big a fan of Nirvana, I appreciate the impact they had on music at that time. His suicide was such a sad loss to the world.

Sevi said...

I understand where you are coming from. I am considerably older than you so when I heard John Lennon was shot dead I cried all day and didn't go to school that day. A little piece of my heart left that day.

I remember when I got my first job in the record store, uh back in the dark ages, a woman asked me if I ever heard of a band called the Beatles. I rolled my eyes and took her to the albums - I told you dark ages.

Nirvana did something for our music and the way it has evolved. Many people don't see that but only see some grunge band who had a lead singer who could write powerful lyrics and couldn't handle the pressure of life. I wouldn't want his life for all the money in the world. But he left something for all of us that touches many. He was pretty amazing. Oh and I blame Courtney.