10 Years Without Kurt Cobain
05 Apr 2004 01:56 GMT
My thoughts on the last ten years.
This day in 1994 saw the end of Kurt Cobain. He pointed a shotgun at his head and pulled the trigger. Like other big rock legends such as Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, Cobain died at age 27. But Cobain was different. He didn't die of alcoholism or a drug overdose. He took his own life. A deliberate act. Some might say the final act of rebellion, the highest form of rejection of this fucked up world.
To allot of the western youth of the 90's Nirvana articulated the alienation and emptiness they felt. The dispair. The torment. The rejection of a culture totally superficial and fucked.
The death of Cobain in some ways reflected the death of the sanity itself. Like many youth of the today, suicide seems like the only reasonable option to exit a society that is totally insane. We are born into a world of capitalism, corporatism, authoritarianism. We are brainwashed from birth and told that the death of the natural world is normal - it's what we must do for civilisation to triumph.
In 1994 I felt the same way as Cobain. I wanted out. I wanted to kill myself. But for some reason, I didn't, I couldn't, I was too gutless. I continued on in my mysery. It was only a short time later that I found bands like The Offspring. They politicised me. They didn't have the defeatist lyrics of Nirvana, but an articulation of the cause of all this shit - The System. It was a call for rebellion, but not against life itself, but against the tyrants of the ruling order.
Many years past as Nirvana blasted out of my stereo and I sat in a daze of pot smoke or in the trip from some magic mushrooms. I was isolated. I hated the system. I hated the cops. I hated the sight of any man dressed in a suit and tie - it represented the system, conformity, domination. I thought to myself many times 'If only we had a movement, if only the youth would rise up, like in the 60's'. I longed for the community and comradery that I saw in the sixties movement. Sometimes I even wished a war would start just so a movement would happen, so I wouldn't be on my own anymore.
The late 90's compounded my alienation. It also saw the breakthrough of alternative music get totally co-opted by the corporate monsters.
Cobain's scream was organic and genuine. But nothing that gets bought up and used in mainstream culture can retain that character. They are plastic reproductions, mass produced, for the sake of profit. Hollow, superficial. Empty culture.
Seattle, November 30, 1999. Kurt Cobain's home and death place became the scene of the birth of a new movement. A movement against all the things I hated, with all the things I wanted. It's a pity I wasn't there. But there it was. It had arrived. It's almost as if it was the natural progression of things. Finally people had woken up and taken a stand.
But it took me a few years to even notice this movement. It wasn't until I saw the coverage of Genoa on the news that I knew something was up. But once it clicked, I was won over. After coming into contact with many radicals from this new movement I became educated in political theory, on capitalism, communism, and the real alternative, anarchism. Books like John Zerzan's 'Running On Emptiness' articulated why I felt the way I did, why society is superficial, and perhaps, a way out of all this mess.
No doubt today all the corporate radio stations will be playing Nirvana's pop songs like 'Come As You Are'. But I prefer to listen to one of their songs which is probably least well known - 'Milk It'. I guess remembering Kurt Cobain today is something he may not have wanted to happen. I quote from the final lines of 'Milk It'.
"Look on the bright side is suicide
Lost eyesight I'm on your side
Angel left wing, right wing, broken wing
Lack of iron and/or sleeping
Protector of the kennel
Your scent is still here in my place of recovery"