Tuesday, April 8, 2008

All Apologies

There are two events that occurred on April 8 that had a profound impact on me. One of them was one of the happiest days of my life, the other was one of the saddest. I was married on April 8, 1995. That was obviously the happy one. One year earlier, artist Kurt Cobain was found dead of a self-inflicted shotgun wound. That one was sad. I was 24 years old on that day and like many other twenty-somethings, was deeply troubled by the news.

Looking back, it seems easy to listen to Kurt's lyrics and hear those songs and say suicide was the obvious conclusion to his story. At the time, I was shocked. I was one of those who felt Kurt was singing FOR the angry, the frustrated, the depressed, the picked on, and the isolated souls in all of us. How could he just give up? I still don't understand it anymore today then I did back in 1994. It does prove that the rage and pain heard in those songs was very real.

After watching the Nirvana "Unplugged" performance, you had the feeling that Kurt was maturing as an artist and the limits were unimaginable. To this day, I can hardly listen to that CD. It is just too damn sad to think "what if". As much as I love the 3 Nirvana studio albums, they sound like a band just getting started. An artist just finding his talents. A year later, my favorite musician in the world (Jerry Garcia) also died. As sad as that day was for many, it was hard for me to be totally depressed by it. Jerry had already given so much. Kurt on the other hand, had barely begun.

There seems to be many teenagers and twenty-somethings who don't "get" Nirvana. They don't understand what the big deal is. I feel sorry for them. I guess coming of age post-Nirvana, you would have no perception of what music was like pre-Nirvana. It's like the people who don't "get" The Beatles. Like any art, you have to have some perception of the history and timeline of when it was created to truly appreciate it. I listen to Kurt and I hear someone who changed the course of popular music without trying to. He gave kids the idea that music could mean something. That it could be a guiding force in their lives. That there was a better alternative to the brain-dead tunes of Def Leopard/Motley Crue/Poison and the like. Post 1991, everyone sounded like Nirvana. Pre-1991, no one did. It happened so fast it is easy to take for granted.

On this day every year, I make sure to spend quality time with my wife. But an April 8 wouldn't be complete for me without spending an hour cranking up some Nirvana as loud as I can stand it. It does the soul good. Unfortunately, Kurt had to bare his far too much...

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