Sunday, April 6, 2014
On it being 20 years since Cobain's death
So, Kurt Cobain killed himself 20 years ago, and I may as well become part of the wall of noise on the topic.
I've been doing a lot of historical reading these past few days, trying to piece together if he actually changed between Bleach and Nevermind; was he a nice guy who just turned into a fucking self-absorbed loser drug addict, or was he always a loser?
He probably did suffer from depression. The stomach problem probably made it worse; I had a nasty stomach problem for almost 20 years (literally so bad I'd get floored from the pain), and it does wear you the fuck down. But all sorts of depressed people don't kill themselves.
He was also apparently a problem child who liked getting into trouble. So his self-narrative was all fucked up from an early age. If you hate everybody all the time you're not going to turn out well. Acting out is not a sign of being cool and punk.
But was he already a goner in 1990, or could he have changed and stayed alive?
Supposedly he wasn't a complete heroin addict til about 1990 or 1991. Did Courtney contribute to that? Pfft, I dunno, everyone was doing heroin back then: Primal Scream, Happy Mondays, all the rock stars were so fucking cool cos they were doing the hard drugs. Alan McGee was a total cokehead and I wouldn't be surprised if drugs were behind Rough Trade's collapse too.
In fact, I've learned not to blame Nirvana for the death of good indie music; the fucking druggie parasites who ran the indie scene were the ones who killed it. Did K Records ever go bankrupt? No? I assume that's because Calvin Johnson wasn't a fucking smackhead.
Anyway, apparently Kurt was already into dextromethorphan before he meet Courtney, so he was already fucked up by drugs. Some people can apparently handle drugs, but I doubt they were having a positive effect on him.
I don't think Courtney was a healthy partner for him. The things I've read suggest to me that the guy always wanted a strong female figure (Tobi Vail for god's sake) to tell him what to do; put someone like Courtney in that position and it's fucking dangerous for the guy.
Here's a pic of where they were living in 1992:
That's basically one step removed from a fucking crack den. There's leaving a mess when you move out, and then there's this. If Kurt was crippled by depression then I can see him living in a fucking pig-sty like some helpless welfare case; but if he's got someone with him, why does the place still go to shit?
Like I said above, I hung out in the deadhead scene. These were guys who would wake up at 4PM, do some jamming and get stoned, then go down to the bar and nurse a beer all night listening to bands, come home at 1AM and watch late-night TV til 6AM. Some people could handle this and had nice apartments; others lived in fucking pig-sties. My drummer's girlfriend never let their place go to shit; she was a responsible adult. But some people were just fucking kids who never saw the mess around them.
Anyway, apparently by 1992 Kurt was already being a total asshole to the band, forcing them to take a smaller cut of royalties. How punk is that, eh? So don't tell me he ever gave a shit about punk. The band was nearly broken up when he killed himself.
I've read a lot about Cobain hating homophobic and racist cock-rockers who appropriated Nirvana into their wardrobe. Funny thing is, Nirvana was metal. They were part of a metal scene (come on, Mudhoney? Tad? Melvins? either that's metal or you're deaf), and Nirvana's early music was also quite metal.
If he gave a shit about politics, why didn't he instead go into the K Records scene? You wouldn't find racists or homophobes at a Beat Happening concert. And hey, as it turns out, the K scene ended up maintaining a hell of a lot more DIY and punk integrity than the grunge scene.
So anyway, why did he kill himself?
Because he hated success? Oh bullshit. #1, don't believe the shit you read him saying in any interview after 1991; he's lying most of the time, just to be a dick. It seems he directly contradicts documented truth several times, usually to make himself look like a poor little victim. And journos from that period like Everett True were so in love with the stupid infantile druggie bullshit that their articles were nothing but fawning fucking blowjobs to begin with.
#2, what the fuck did he want? To make records for 20,000 people and live in a crack den? If he had wanted to do that he could have just kept the royalty split even. He certainly wanted the fucking money.
I really think he was just fucked up in the head, and the only question is how he got there. Probably the drugs contributed, probably Courtney contributed, but the question is whether he was a salvageable human being before the spiral went out of control.
Depression doesn't wreck you on its own; Stephen Fry turned out pretty good after he (apparently) got things under control. Hey, Fry also had problems with alcohol and cocaine; did his life spiral out of control ending with a shotgun blast to the head?
Maybe Fry just had better friends taking care of him than Kurt Cobain did?
So maybe it's not a case of blah blah depression or blah blah drugs or blah blah Courtney Love. Maybe he was in a completely dysfunctional crowd, and instead of giving him the support he needed to straighten out, they just let him spiral the fuck down? Maybe that was the deciding factor?
Then again, that still begs the question of whether or not he was a messed-up kid in 1990 who just turned into a drugged-out self-absorbed asshole later.
Anyway, here's a documentary about him if you're into that sort of thing. Seems to be one big interview with Kurt, probably in 1993; he was already in thick with Courtney and heroin, and so I'd take everything he says with a grain of salt.