In the millions of things that have been said and will be said about the frontman of Nirvana, on the anniversary of his death, we would like you to reconnect with what the bipolar contrasts between soft melodies and cantankerous guitars changed at some point in the life of each one of us.
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I have lots of vivid memories that probably wouldn’t be memories at all if Heart Shaped Box hadn’t been playing in the living room stereo, or if anyone who I knew back in school wasn’t so into rock music like they happened to be. It was the summer holidays in Croatia even before the war, when a kid who never spoke a word to anyone wore his Nevermind tee ever so often even the locals wouldn’t recognise him if he’d put on anything different. It was having a crush (back then I would think my life would depend on it though) on a guy who sang in a grunge band from some forgotten countryside village, who happened to have copied Kurt Cobain’s wardrobe, hairstyle, moves – and maybe psychotic tendencies too. It was the Saturdays afternoon after training, just shutting the door behind ‘things I am expected to do, even if I am just a kid’ and the soothing darkness of the walls of my at the time BFF’s room.
It was all teen angst, you could say, that made Kurt Cobain the saviour, the hero, the icon of 90s.
But Kurt Cobain’s blue eyes and blonde messy bob contributed to make him the teen idol who listened to the teen angst and put it into his music. The definition or rock music changed after Nirvana, or at least the definition of who rock music would appeal to: back in the early 90s , 1991’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, rock bands like Guns N Roses were coming out with their Illusion albums, and they were too singing about more meaningful topics than fast cars.
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However what Kurt Cobain put in his lyrics, as he was the one providing the biggest word input in Nirvana’s songs, was something that connected him to what teenagers would feel at the peak of their rebellion years, the sense of nausea and excitement they would study few years later in Jean Paul Sartre’s take on life.
Was it just teenagers in the 90s? Nope, and one way to explain this is, punk music: angry kids, that’s what punk music is, for any given generation.
Whether the X or the Z, Cobain’s nihilistic egocentricity and vulnerability connect with any generation becoming that future generation of ‘grown ups’. I am starting to think there was no teen angst before Kurt Cobain existed; I can’t imagine my parents putting on the Beatles to wallow in some existential drama, or Hendrix, Dylan and The Rolling Stones for the same matter.
Cobain is the ‘Man who changed the world’ in a way, maybe not for the better, or maybe it made us all more mentally unstable than past generations. If there was a Kurt Cobain today, what would he be posting on Instagram? I strongly believe he would hate it to bits.