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On the 5th of April 1994, Kurt Cobain, frontman of Nirvana, passed away. Twenty years after his passing, his legacy lives on and his work is still extremely relevant. The sensitiveness articulated in Cobain’s work still expresses the feelings of several men and women pertaining to different generations. Some of those got attached to the musician and his work back in the days, some discover his art today.
Unfortunately, Kurt Cobain’s persona has also been overexploited in several ways during those twenty years; a morbid necessity of digging into the musician’s personal life and alleged actions has permeated the media, a construction of a plastic ideological figure of sadness and “coolness” has served the industry, and others, well. His life, work, and death have often been disrespected for the sake of a “shining moment,” sentiment which has little to do with the love for the man and his art. The audience even got the chance to read and collect his journals, as if breaking into a person’s most personal feelings and thoughts were an acceptable thing, just because he is dead.
Ironically, what seems to have lacked deeper attention are the actual circumstances of Cobain’s death. Police has classified the death as suicide, in spite of the inconsistencies shown by private investigator Tom Grant and other people following the case, without re-opening the case once new evidence was found.
Fortunately, the void created by some practices has not obscured the authenticity of the message and the music Kurt Cobain created and spread with Nirvana.
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s passing, Toonari Post wants to celebrate his life and work through the treasure the artist left to the world: his music. Here, we propose three of his songs: one represents the band, one the man, and one the music industry and society. Enjoy and appreciate one of the greatest men music history can be proud to have had.
Oh, the Guilt [Puss/Oh, the Guilt, 1993]
The song contains everything Nirvana. It is powerful, raw, dirty and comes straight to the listener. Loud guitars and unapologetic drums accompany the hypnotic voice of Kurt Cobain; it goes from stable to desperate, from safe to wild. The song is a jubilation of sound and power, which is hard to match. The lyrics might represent the problems related to making a choice and live with the consequences of it, or might very well be just random verses thrown in for aesthetic purposes. Classic Nirvana. First released in 1993 on Touch & Go Records, as a split single with alternative rock band The Jesus Lizard, it is also included in the Nirvana box set ‘With the Lights Out’ (2004) and in the compilation album ‘Sliver: The Best of the Box’ (2005).
Serve the Servants [In Utero, 1993]
One of the best incipits of an album ever written. The sentence “Teenage angst has paid off well, now I’m bored and old” introduces what will be Nirvana last studio album ‘In Utero,’ a masterpiece. Cobain included in “Serve the Servants” several autobiographical references, such as mentions of his relationship with success and to his family. An incredible guitar riff is enhanced by splendid bass lines between the vocals and a very entertaining drum work.
Aero Zeppelin [Incesticide, 1992]
Recorded in 1988 at Reciprocal Studios, with Dale Crover (Melvins) on drums, the song was only released in 1992 with the Incesticide compilation album. Among other things it talks about lack of originality in music; in Cobain’s words “this song isn’t about either Led Zeppelin or Aerosmith…it’s about Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, White Snake, Cat Butt, and Nirvana.”. It also talks about the superficiality of society and the lack of critical judgment when facing a trend: “You could shit upon the stage, they’ll be fans, they’ll be fans.” A disillusioned track which keeps his relevance more than 25 years after it was first recorded.
Image credit: Nirvana via Facebook.com