It’s time again for Friday on My Mind. Our weekly blog post where we look at videos centered around one common theme. This is a collaborative effort between KEXP and King 5 News.
When I think of Nirvana and specifically Kurt Cobain, the first thought that pops into my head is the city of Seattle. It’s ironic because Kurt Cobain lived in Seattle for a short period of time compared to the larger amount of time he spent in Aberdeen. Aberdeen is often misrepresented as a “suburb” of Seattle, which it is not. Aberdeen might as well be considered a part of another state, but that being said, Cobain was an integral part of a musical moment that was driven from Seattle and a sound that was influenced by his band and all the bands making music here for many years prior.
If it wasn’t for Nirvana, I might not be living in Seattle right now and I might not have ended up becoming the host of The Morning Show on KEXP. I was living 300 miles East of Seattle in Spokane, Washington when my older brother sent me a mixed tape with Nirvana on one side, and Mudhoney on the other. Kurt Cobain’s songs changed everything. As a guy who had just gotten into the Pixies a few years before, I could hear their influence (which he stated countless times as an influence) and also the influence of the countless metal and hard rock bands I had listened to in the past. Like so many people, I felt that this guy was singing to me and to not go to the place he was speaking from that was only a few hundred miles away seemed insane.
Nirvana’s impact on music is well documented and most of it I believe to be true. Hair metal was on its way out, no question, but Nirvana ended it. There were countless “front men” ahead of Kurt Cobain but most of them were nothing like him. The only ones you could compare him to would be punk icons like Iggy Pop or Joey Ramone who while popular were not at the level he was at. It literally put the brakes on rock music being made outside of Seattle and made everyone rethink and recreate their sound. In Seattle, this was already going on so it was fascinating to see the rest of the country suddenly figure out A. There IS a city called “Seattle” in our country and B. My god, what is going on there, this is the most honest thing being made today. There is a reason that struck so many people listening to music. You wait for a voice to come along like that, the John Lennon, Jim Morrison, Joe Strummer, Bono and you’re lucky if one appears let alone speaks to you. Kurt spoke the underdog, the music freaks, the outcasts, the people fed up with top 40 and hair bands. He changed not just how music was played but how we listened to music.
Kurt Cobain existed in a world where Aberdeen was home and where he didn’t make real money until the last couple years of his life. He was not a drug addict his entire life. In fact, it’s been said he wasn’t one for most of his life. Its sad that the people around him or that he didn’t live in a time when he could have had help dealing with both his mental and physical issues. I think others, while not suicidal, can relate to his life because they have their own versions of pain and being misunderstood. Sadly for Kurt, the massive success his band saw only elevated these issues until drugs and suicide were his only options.
During this sad anniversary, let’s make a point of seeing this as an opportunity to celebrate the man and his lasting impact his musical contributions have had on so many.
Nirvana - Come As You Are
Nirvana - Sliver
Nirvana - About a Girl
Nirvana - Seasons in the Sun