If Kurt Cobain was still alive to voice his opinion would he have nothing but a sneering contempt about being accepted into the redundant ranks of rock royalty that litter the Hall of Fame?
On the 20th anniversary of his suicide, it’s fair to say Kurt Cobain is dead famous. The tormented singer whose last act was to stick a shotgun in his mouth and blow his brains out, has secured an eternal place in the rank and file of rock martyrs such as Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Brian Jones.
Kurt Cobain will never grow old, never grow fat, never record a terrible album, never sell-out, and more importantly, Kurt Cobain will always look good on a t-shirt.
Kurt Cobain was many things in his 27 years, but he was definitely a misfit. Rock n’ roll loves a misfit. It eats them up and spits them out the other side, either dead, dying, or addicted.
Kurt Cobain never seemed to like himself a whole lot, but other people did. Or at least they worshipped an idolized version of a Kurt Cobain that a generation helped to paint with big broad strokes.
Kurt Cobain took his life before he had a chance to mature as an artist or a person. Some say Cobain was sick of singing to hordes of people who liked ‘all his pretty songs’, and worshipped him like the ‘rock gods’ he professed to despise. In reality Kurt Cobain was a soul who was probably always predisposed to suicide.
As far as the marketing men who exchange handshakes in darkened corridors are concerned, Kurt Cobain is also dead beautiful.
Cobain’s perfect image is frozen in eternity without the baldness and belly of middle-age to threaten its enchanting lure. Cobain’s songs of sorrow and despair remain all the more potent because he gave them added authenticity with his death. More importantly, Cobain no longer has an opinion to voice, criticisms to make, spleen to vent, insults to hurl, or a heart to rage. Cobain is dead, but his legend lives on, and more than that, it sells, and sells well.
If Kurt Cobain had lived, it’s doubtful if he’d be playing the same game as Dave Grohl. Like J.D. Salinger, Howard Hughes, or Syd Barret before him, perhaps Cobain would have disappeared off the radar altogether to become rock’s very own version of the wild man of the woods.
Either way, it’s hard to imagine, or disappointing to believe, that a 47-year-old Kurt Cobain, the man who once spat, “Rather be dead than cool,” would pop along to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and graciously accept Nirvana’s place in the establishment before delivering a lackluster and luke-warm version of Smells Like Teen Spirt.
As Kurt Cobain once said: “There’s more things to life than living out your rock n’ roll identity so righteously.”