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The 5th of April 1994, legendary Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain died in Seattle, WA. Eighteen years after his death, his person still has an exceptional relevance. Not only his extraordinary talent and musical vision have been the center of worldwide appreciation ever since Nirvana’s success in the ‘90s; Kurt Cobain’s complex personality has conquered the hearts of many.
The mix of sarcasm and fragility that characterized Kurt Cobain, and which was reflected in his music, has established a connection to all those who have felt misunderstood and disappointed by what they experienced as an uncaring and superficial society. Cobain’s talent and honesty has often been seen as one of the main reasons for the development of his iconic persona.
In celebration of Kurt Cobain’s life and legacy, Toonari Post asked a fan, a grunge expert and the director of a project in memory of Kurt Cobain, to talk about the late musician.
Kostas Panagiotou, president of the Nirvana Greek fan club, said “It’s 18 years since Kurt decided to leave this world. I miss him and his loss still hurts; not because there will be no other Nirvana albums, but mainly because his presence would be so inspirational for many people, including me.
“In my opinion he’s the greatest American artist of the second half of the 20th century. His songwriting progressed from early Nirvana recordings, where lyrics were not so important, to ‘In Utero,’ where he exposed himself in such a way like no other had done in the past.
“’I’m not like them, but I can pretend’ he sang. [‘Dumb,’ Nirvana] He never did though; he decided to follow the hard way, and to reject the role of rock star that so many people in the music industry tried to make him play. That’s why he is so influential even after 18 years. Not because he wrote and sang a load of brilliant songs, but mainly because he was one of us. A defining artist, and a simple man. That’s why I adore him.”
Mark Yarm is the author of ‘Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge,’ which has already been praised as a masterpiece of the music genre. About Cobain and his fans, Yarm told Toonari Post “I’m in touch with a lot of grunge fans via my blog, Facebook and Twitter; a lot of them feel that grunge was the last genuine musical movement.
Kurt Cobain, in particular, is held up as a creative genius who would have hated today’s “fake” pop music. I agree with the genius part, but people tend to ascribe all sorts of views to him—like how he would have despised Miley Cyrus’s live cover of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.’ But really, who knows?”
About Cobain’s death he then went on “Kurt was a complicated individual, both seeking out and rejecting fame at the same time. In my book, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden says that Nirvana making a video for “Heart-Shaped Box” and doing an episode of Unplugged at the time ‘didn’t make a lot of sense’ to him, given that Kurt was so unhappy and so disillusioned.
Cornell felt Kurt just shouldn’t have done it—the way Pearl Jam stopped making music videos when they were getting overwhelmed by success. Of course, pulling back like that is much easier said than done.”
“I think the park and the bench act almost like a grave” says Tara Denton co-director, with Eli Richardson, of the ‘Viretta Park Repair’ project in Seattle, WA.
“The park is right next door to where Kurt died, and since Kurt did not receive a proper burial, people consider the bench and the park as such. People travel from all over the world to Viretta Park to sign the bench [the bench has become a symbol for those who go to pay their respects to the late Nirvana frontman] and leave mementos for Kurt.”
Defining the project she says “I feel that Seattle does not have anything that honors Kurt Cobain. He did a lot for music, and put the city of Seattle on the map.
Many people still travel to Seattle 18 years after his death, just because of him. We hear from people from all over the world, Australia, Japan, Italy, Turkey, the U.K., Brazil, Chile, etc. the list goes on and on. I think that says a lot as to why something should be done to honor him. The aim of the Viretta Park Repair is to repair and restore the park, and to create some sort of memorial for Kurt Cobain.
“It’s amazing what he accomplished in his short career. He was obviously a very talented man, who happened to make some poor choices in his life.”
In the author’s opinion, one of the greatest things Kurt Cobain has ever accomplished, mainly through the incomparable truth of his spirit and music, is to remain in the hearts of thousands of people for such a long time after his tragic farewell to this world; he is greatly missed.