Kurt Cobain’s Legacy Is Often Overlooked

Kurt Cobain committed suicide 20 years ago but his legacy lives on. Kurt Cobain left behind a collection of power chords that many beginning guitar players are still learning for the first time. Many current musicians, including Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend and Australian songwriter Courtney Barnett, recognize Kurt Cobain’s impact on music.

According to the Washington Post, “(Barnett) says she picked up ‘Come as You Are’ at age ten and countless other kids the world over.”

“Nirvana gave a whole new generation of musicians a place to begin, a place to get a foothold,” says Brad Tolinski, editor in chief of Guitar World, “He was a fantastic musician and I think he liked the idea of people playing his music.”

Gil Kaufman of MTV.com described what made Kurt Cobain so influential in the 1990s as well as today, “Whether you just discovered ‘Nevermind’ last week, or stood vigil with a candle 20 years ago, the anniversary of Kurt’s death is a reminder that Cobain’s impact on pop culture has hardly diminished in the decades since his death. What made him so special was that he seemed like a regular dude who stumbled into rock stardom and then recoiled from it when he reached the heights that some people spend their every waking breath striving for. That is punk rock.”

“I started playing guitar around the time that ‘Nevermind’ came out,” Jack Antonoff, guitarist of rock band Fun, told the Huffington Post, “Being able to mimic something you idolize like that was really encouraging — which is probably why kids aren’t into super-prog jazz. They can’t do it.”

“He couldn’t play — and had no interest in trying to learn — Eddie Van Halen speed scales or in­cred­ibly complicated jazz chords,” says Butch Vig, the producer of the album ‘Nevermind,’ about Cobain. “But he was a great player with an instinct for writing really great, hooky, rhythmic, riffy chord patterns.”

Neil McCormick of the Telegraph described the influence Kurt Cobain and ‘Nevermind’ had on the rock genre, “‘Nevermind’ by Nirvana may be the greatest, the purest, and most utterly thrilling rock album ever made. It boils rock down to its core sounds and emotions, with a loud/quiet dynamic that constricts to sorrowful self-pity and erupts in raging fury. There is a Beatley-elegance to the melodies, a classic crunch and swagger to the playing, and a punk economy to its attack, focussed on the hurting tone of Cobain’s voice and elusive, intangible truthfulness of his songwriting. Released in 1991, it completely recalibrated a genre that had become fatuous and overblown, and today it still sound urgently and paradoxically alive, the last clarion call of a form of music reaching the end of its creative relevance.”

Kurt Cobain had a profound influence on rock music. Kurt Cobain’s legacy is heard in every guitar store, backyard, and garage where new musicians begin a new career.