20-year anniversary marks Cobain’s tragedy

"Miss U Kurt" is among the messages left on a bench in Viretta Park along Lake Washington next to the home where Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love lived and Cobain took his own life. His stature as a song writer/performer/poet remains undiminished. (Photo Courtesy of Alan Berner/Seattle Times/MCT)

“Miss U Kurt” is among the messages left on a bench in Viretta Park along Lake Washington next to the home where Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love lived and Cobain took his own life. His stature as a song writer/performer/poet remains undiminished. (Photo Courtesy of Alan Berner/Seattle Times/MCT)

There is not much to be said about a long dead musician without sounding trite. Few artists will write songs that are truly remembered over the course of time.Fewer will write songs that are considered great. If they’re very lucky, they’ll write a song that will top the charts that year.A handful will write songs that define a genre of music or, if you’re Kanye West, a generation.Only one of those people inspires thousands of smokers every day to not buy white lighters and can write a song that makes Miley Cyrus sound almost anti-authoritarian covering.

On April 8th 1994, Kurt Donald Cobain, lead singer of the alternative rock band Nirvana was found dead in his home in Seattle, Washington with alleged self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

While Miley Cyrus’ “Smells like Teen Spirit” shouted in whatever ironically named corporate mega dome, Cobain probably rolled over in his grave. There doesn’t seem like much we can do to honor him.

 

 

His accomplishments speak for themselves. Nirvana’s second album, “Nevermind,” is considered one of the greatest rock albums of all time. His ability to write songs and perform them earned him a place as one of the most talented musicians of the modern era, because the sound he created defined grunge music, laying down a foundation for alternative music for the past twenty years.

Yet, his success tortured him. Playing sold out shows for young people who only wanted to hear the hits drained on Cobain’s psyche. He became madly addicted to heroin. He suffered from a deep, dark depression. The last time he was with his family, he jumped the wall at a rehabilitation facility.

The particularly tragic part of his death is evident in that he was only 27 years old. Perhaps we could have seen a level of success for Cobain and Nirvana similar to Thom Yorke and Radiohead. It becomes even more disheartening when you realize he left a young daughter behind.

Of course with a tragedy like this there is a fair amount of controversy surrounding it. His wife, Courtney Love, was accused of murdering him. Their relationship was far from healthy. Only a month before his death, Love called the police reporting that Cobain had locked himself in a room and was threatening to kill himself. Although the police found weapons, Cobain claims he only locked himself away because of Love.

Earlier this month, news surfaced from the Seattle police department that the case was reopened. Detectives reported to The Seattle Timesthat they were merely releasing undeveloped photos and answering questions about the anniversary of his death.

The nature of his fame has also created several superstitions. He is a part of the infamous “27 Club,” which includes a handful of musicians, (Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Brian Jones) that also died at the age of 27. The “white lighter myth,” which stemmed from the idea of a “27 Club,” still proves effective today. It’s likely that if you congregate with a circle of smokers, at least one person will flinch at the sight of a white lighter.

Kurt Cobain is an icon of rock music and alternative culture. He deserves all of the fame as he is and will continue to be a music legend.

Reach the reporter at mhkent@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @guccimileskent