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20 Years Unforgotten: Remembering Kurt Cobain


Online Music Editor Pavel Kondov takes an exclusive look at the life and legacy of grunge legend Kurt Cobain, 20 years after he tragically committed suicide.

This Saturday marked the twentieth anniversary of the tragic death of Kurt Cobain. On April 5 1994, Nirvana’s lead singer and vocalist died under circumstances that remain unclear to this day, prompting many inappropriate jokes and downright insane conspiracy theories. What was clear even back then, however, is that his death was an enormous loss for music.

In music, 20 years is usually long enough to assess a musician’s impact on our favourite art form. Looking back on Nirvana’s short history, they have left a lasting legacy of one massive hit, two generations of depressive teenagers, three damned good albums, and countless copycats. Kurt Cobain, a lonely boy with a problem childhood from a small Seattle town called Aberdeen, was the mastermind behind all that. When you think Nirvana, you think Kurt. Nirvana was his diary, the canvas on which he spilt all the pain, ambition, anger, gloom and frustration that filled his life. These emotions were the oil to his creative engine, the things that made him pick up the guitar, and, paradoxically, the things that kept him going. He sought shelter from his depression in success, in Courtney, in the drugs, and it was them that actually pushed him over the edge. Who would have thought that pain and anonymity were his perfect shelter all along?

Kurt's suicide note, addressed to his childhood imaginary friend Boddah.
Kurt’s suicide note, addressed to his childhood imaginary friend Boddah.

As a musician Kurt was incredibly talented, but not skilled. In this was his beauty – you can see the genius in his mind trying to surface through his fingers in his imperfect playing, and all the fret noise and feedback that came out instead were perfectly fine. He could play the whole song one step down, mess up his solo or forget his lyrics, but he would laugh it all away and think how much he enjoyed it. He was just amazed anyone allowed him up onstage.

I don’t believe Kurt’s life could have ended any differently. To cite his suicide letter, he was always destined burn out brightly. For all the sadness that made him pull that trigger, I believe in his last hours he was the most content he’s ever been. He was about to achieve Nirvana.

This is one way to see Kurt Cobain. This is how I see him, and my take is as good (or, indeed, as bad) as anyone’s, I suppose. If everyone thinks they’ve got you figured out, does it really matter if anyone has? We will never really know who Kurt Cobain was. But I’m thankful he let us have even this small glimpse.

Pavel Kondov, Online Music Editor 

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