Essay Preview: Kurt Cobain
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After his parents divorce Cobain found himself shuttled back and forth between various relatives and at one stage homeless living under a bridge.
When Cobain was eleven he heard and was captivated by the Britains Sex Pistols and after their self-destruction Cobain and friend Krist Novoselic continued to listen to the wave of British bands including Joy Division the nihilistic post-punk band that some say Nirvana are directly descended from in form of mood, melody and lyrical quality.
Cobains artistry and iconoclastic attitude didnt win many friends in high school and sometimes earned him beatings from “jocks” Cobain got even by spray painting “QUEER” on their pick-up trucks. By 1985 Aberdeen was dead and Cobains next stop was Olympia. Cobain formed and reformed a series of bands before Nirvana came to be in 1986. Nirvana was an uneasy alliance between Cobain, bassist Krist Novoselic and eventually drummer and multi-instrumentalist Dave Grohl
By 1988 Nirvana were doing shows and had demo tapes going around. In 1989 Nirvana recorded their rough-edged first album Bleach for local Seattle independent label Sub-Pop
In Britain Nirvana received a lot of recognition and in 1991 their contract was bought out by Geffen, they signed to the mega-label, the first non-mainstream band to do so. Two and a half years after Nirvanas first C.D. Bleach was released they released Nevermind, a series of different, crunching, screaming songs that along with its first single Smells Like Teen Spirit would propel Nirvana to mainstream stardom.
Smells Like Teen Spirit became Nirvanas most highly acclaimed and instantly recognizable song. Not many people can decipher its exact lyrics but Cobain used a seductive hookline to hook the listener. Nevermind went on to sell ten million copies and make a reported $550 million (US) leaving Nirvana overnight millionaires. Cobain was shocked at the reception of his highly personal and passionate music repeatedly telling reporters that none of the band ever, ever expected anything like this. It quickly became obvious that the obsessively sickly and sensitive 24yr old was not going to cope well with the rockn roll lifestyle. “If there was a rock star 101 course, Id really have like to take it,” Cobain once observed. Cobain fell into heroin in the early 90s, he said he used it as a shield against the rigorous demands of touring and to stop the pain of stomach ulcers or an irritated bowel. Through the touring and pressure Cobain continued to write his very personal acutely focused lyrics.
Cobain was distressed to find out that what he wrote and how it was interpreted could quite often be miles apart. He was appalled when he found out that Polly a heavily ironic anti-rape song had been used as background music in a real gang-rape. He later appealed to fans on the Incesticide liner notes “If any of you dont like gays or women or blacks, please leave us the fuck alone.” It was to no avail, Cobain found that as an overnight millionaire musician control was something he had very little of. Cobain also worried that his band had sold-out, that it was attracting the wrong kind of fans (i.e the type that used to beat him up.)
In February 1992 Cobain skipped off to Hawaii to marry the already pregnant Courtney Love. Later in the year Nirvana released Incesticide and in August Cobain had hospital treatment for heroin abuse. Shortly after Frances Bean Cobain was born. In early 1993 In Utero was released into the top spot on the music charts. In Utero was widely acclaimed by the music press and it contains some of Cobains most passionate work. In Utero was a lot more open than Nirvanas previous albums. Songs like All Apologies and Heart Shaped Box detailed aspects of Cobains sometimes shaky marriage, other songs like Scentless Apprentice detailed the agonies and struggles of Cobains experiences.
Nirvana embarked on a support tour and recorded and filmed an “unplugged” (acoustic) performance for MTV in November of 1993. Nirvanas choice to honour bands and people that had influenced them and Cobains passionate and intense vocals especially