The Ides of March

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Spin’s Charles Aaron on Kurt Cobain

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Kurt Cobain: When rock becomes religion our gods are rendered mortal

by Charles Aaron

December 1994

If growing up as a Pisces on bended knees in the church of punk rock taught
me anything, it was never to trust anything or anyone, even myself, particularly
if there was money or love or God involved, never trust a melody because
melodies sell people things they don’t need, always place blame and always
accept it, and remember that, in the words of punk forefather Graham Greene, “We
are all of us resigned to death: It’s life we aren’t resigned to.”

In other words, punk rock kept me from wanting to kill myself as a dopey kid,
but left me with very little to live for as a dopey adult, except the laughter
of survival or some such. The happiest people are the best liars. Stunted punk
ideas like that still scurry from the right side of my brain to the left. And I
say the “church” of punk rock because Johnny Rotten was a tortured Catholic, and
I was a tortured Baptist, and my punk-rock dream come true wasn’t some quaint
DIY vision of hearing “real” rock’n’roll again. It was about rescuing Jesus from
the repressive lying assholes and convincing Him to scream “Fuck off and die” at
everything and everyone I hated. Punk rock was my substitute for spiritual
ritual, my excuse for living. And it inevitably had to fail.

Kurt Cobain, born too late in a trailer park in Aberdeen, Washington, felt
cheated that he didn’t even get his chance to fail. He missed punk proper,
missed the black-joke blubbering of hardcore, missed the Beatles AND the Knack,
for that matter. Instead his parents divorced, his father beat the shit out of
him, and he dropped out of high school. But once he got his band together (Dave
Grohl on drums instead of those other guys), he gave us Nevermind, its title a
blunted response, either intentionally or unintentionally, to the Sex Pistols’
Never Mind The Bollocks. And more than a decade after the fact, Nirvana
perfectly expressed how shitty and sad and funny-pathetic millions of so-called
normal kids now felt, instead of just speaking to a bunch of “weirdos” and
“fags”. With an album produced so that it blared comfortably next to Guns N’
Roses on the radio, and because of the clever video for “Smells Like Teen
Spirit”, and because Kurt Cobain was a great song- writer, Nirvana became a No.
1 punk band. Fairly legitimately, no big swindle.

But unlike other insecure, long-suffering punk grunts, I felt more
disoriented than validated or vindicated. As time went on, questions nagged.
What does an invigorating postmortem on punk offer anyone in the ’90s? Aren’t
Nirvana fans just gonna use Cobain, a deeply conflicted dweeb with serious
emotional and physical problems, as some kind of spiritual martyr? Aren’t we
going to end up gawking at the same lame suicidal striptease that Sid Vicious
and Darby Crash put us through? Still, I got fed up with indie types bitching
about the band, calling them the postpunk Police, not acknowledging their
talent. I guess I wanted to stupidly give myself over to punk one more time.

For more Mr Aaron’s article in Spin check out:  https://harenewscorp.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php?post_type=post

Written by harenews

October 6, 2011 at 7:16 pm