Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The world is darker without Kurt Cobain

It’s been three decades since the world lost the revolutionary poet
Mahesh Sridharan via Flickr

April 5 marks thirty years since the death of Kurt Cobain, lead singer of Nirvana, one of the most famous and revered bands in history. Cobain was a pioneer in the 90s grunge movement stemming from Seattle, Washington. The band was active for just seven years, but continuously made history, eventually being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.

Cobain was authentically himself. He would wear dresses on stage, support feminist movements and play his music his own way. Cobain created a new generation of rockers: avant-garde, punk rock, grunge that incorporated elements of activism and pure poetry.

Many times, Cobain took to the stage and shared his views. Cobain’s firm beliefs are maybe best shown in the liner notes to Nirvana’s 1990 album, “Insecticide”: “If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of a different color or women, please do this one favor for us … Don’t come to our shows and don’t buy our records.”

He was deeply sensitive, with a love of poetry, painting and the work of the Beatles. He was a quiet person, even when he was at the height of fame, leading his peers to view him as an outcast. Bandmate and musician Dave Grohl recounts his four years in Nirvana, saying, “I still have dreams that we’re in Nirvana, that we’re still a band, I still dream there’s any empty arena waiting for us to play… It’s just a reminder that the person who is responsible for those beautiful songs is no longer with us. It’s bittersweet.”

Cobain made outcasts feel special and heard through his music and warm actions towards his fans. His influences ranged from The Vaselines and the Pixies, to the Beatles and Neil Young. While Nirvana may be best-known for rocking hits such as “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and “Come as You Are,” Nirvana created many more melodic and slow songs. “Marigold,” and “Something in the Way,” showcased a more intimate and tender side of the band.

Nirvana’s “MTV Unplugged in New York,” is one of the band’s most famous performances. The acoustic set differs from Nirvana’s heavy rock sound and electric guitars. Cobain’s voice is gentle and strong and the audience is dead silent. It is rare to be at a concert where an audience is so completely transfixed by the performance, and this was one of those reverent moments. This concert is tone of the best sounding concerts I have ever heard, and even through a video, the energy in the room is visceral and electric.

While Cobain was best-known for his role in Nirvana, he created multiple self-made projects as well. Released posthumously in 2015, “Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings,” features various covers of songs and original creations from Cobain. Here, we get a look into Cobain’s complex personality and struggles. Cobain’s cover of “And I Love Her,” provides a dark contrast to the Beatles’ happy and upbeat tune. There is a mix of gloriously odd songs as well, such as “Beans,” and “Montage of Kurt.” Cobain was a talented, multifaceted and creative artist which is made abundantly clear through his projects.

Cobain had always battled with mental health issues. Since his teenage years, Cobain struggled in school and his home life. Later in life, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which heavily impacted his drug usage. He struggled for years with his heroin use leading up to his death in 1994.

Cobain died at 27-years-old, being one of the poster celebrities involved in the conspiracy of the 27 Club. He died by suicide in his Seattle home. He left behind his wife, Courtney Love and their young daughter, Frances Bean Cobain.

Kurt was not just a musician to idolize; many fans look up to him on a personal level. He will forever be one of the most important voices of his generation, reflected by Nirvana’s ever-growing fanbase that, keeping the band one of the most popular in the world. How is Nirvana popular almost thirty years later? The secret lies in the lush music and fascinating personalities of the band members, coming together at the perfect time to revolutionize what music sounds like forever. The world is lucky to have pieces of Cobain’s brilliance to enjoy and be inspired by.

Olivia Baier can be reached at: [email protected].

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