Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain shot himself (or was murdered, according to certain folks who can't deal with their idol's suicide) in April of 1994. In the hometown he and I shared, Seattle, Washington he is still idolized and loved. One of my friends once told me she planned to shoot herself at the age of 27, just like Kurt. (Totally irrelevantly, she had consumed large amounts of drugs an hour or so before.)
Looking around the hipper, grunge-ier parts of Seattle, everywhere I see a scruffy blonde man in a flannel shirt staring at me from posters and T-shirts. He even watched me from the wall above my desk at work last year, joined by Nirvana's other ex-members: Dave Groehl - known now for fronting The Foo Fighters - and Krist Novoselic - who happens to be an acquaintance of mine; like Eddie Vetter, he frequents area concerts. Kurt's ex, Courney Love fronts Hole, and, for her suspected involvement in his death, no one around here likes her very much.
In autumn of 2002, a previously unreleased song by Nirvana was released to airwaves, following an extremely irritating legal battle between Love and the rest of Nirvana (well, actually their record label, the local Sub-Pop, but whatever). Basically, Love claimed possession of all his unreleased work, an unnamed radio station got a hold of it illegally and started playing it, and the response from the public was so enthusiastic (the majority of it from high schoolers that have never been to a Nirvana concert, mainly because they were still in single digits at the time of Kurt’s death), that everyone gave in and released the mystery song, You Know You’re Right, on a best-of disc (aptly titled Nirvana) in late fall (Yay!).
Right around the same time, Pearl Jam released their first album in years, and the Chris Cornell got together with the remaining members of Rage Against the Machine to form grunge-rock band Audioslave. Anyone who knows the history of the Seattle music scene can understand the euphoria expressed by many flannel-wearing Seattleites. (The loyal fans of local up and coming punk bands like Death Cab for Cutie, The Catheters, and The Divorce suddenly found ourselves in a sad musical minority.) All this 90’s grunge feeling spurred the Cobain worshippers on to new heights.
And then, just as we were trying to find a Christmas gift for our favorite guy who sits on the sidewalk in the University District playing his guitar and poking new holes in his Converse, something catches our eyes from the bookstore window. The Journals, it says, and Kurt Cobain. We quickly call our closest news buff friend on our yuppie cell phone and ask exactly what the hell all this is about.
As far as I can figure out, Courtney Love has decided to publish her ex-beloved’s diaries. Some clever publishing company copied them completely, including Kurt’s sloppy handwriting and margin doodles. The Journals probably made the New York Times best-seller list (have you ever noticed that most books have?). Everyone seems to love it, saying, Look, now we have proof this guy was crazy as well as a heroin addict! Shall we celebrate? I, on the other hand, have some ethical issues here. “Don’t read my diary after I’m gone,” he writes.
Does this say anything to anyone except me? Probably not, as our country is full of media addicts. Oh well, whatever, never mind.
Oh, and by the way, Courtney didn't murder him, she just pushed him to suicide, which is sort of the same thing (and a felony in California).