Thursday, 21 June 2012

Smells Like Teen Spirit

“Hello, Hello, Hello, How Low 
Hello, Hello, Hello 

With the lights out, it's less dangerous 
Here we are now, entertain us 
I feel stupid and contagious 
Here we are now, entertain us

Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana

Last week I got chatting to a bunch of mates about music artists who were “gone too soon”. We discussed Buddy Holly, Gram Parsons and Sam Cooke, and all those members of the infamous 27 club – Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and, of course, the man who is said to have changed music through grunge rock, Kurt Cobain.

Kurt Cobain was a rebel and an idol to those who wanted to fight mainstream and order. He was the musical figure for Generation X, much like The Beatles in the 1960’s. That is, until all the attention became a bit much and he ended his own life. Now, Smells Like Teen Spirit is played as a reminder of grunge rock and a tribute to a man who managed to change a generation through music. The song has been covered so many times as people tried to connect with a man who never really seemed like he wanted to be connected with.

According to Cobain’s band mate Dave Grohl, Cobain never really focused on the lyrics of his music and instead pulled together melodies, and became frustrated when people tried to pick apart his lyrics because they weren’t important. I’m not going to do it here, because, quite frankly, all I know about Smells Like Teen Spirit is that it is a kick ass rock song with a lot of punch and pulls a finger to the authorities. But it makes me wonder: how is this a song for our generation when Cobain himself said his songs are filled with contradictions? And how is it we worship a man who took his own life before he’d reached 30 and supposedly never really loved himself? It seems no one, not even Dave Grohl or Country Love, knew who Kurt Cobain really was.

When I was chatting about the “gone too soon” club, we kept mentioning “what else could they have done” in terms of making more music. Would they have continued to create more music, would they have turned into cliché rock stars, or would they have spiralled further down their destructive paths until they reached a point where making good music was no longer a priority?

We’ll never know what they might have done. We’ll never know exactly what Cobain was thinking that night when he took his own life. Cobain said himself his message and artistic vision were always misinterpreted – we’d probably just mistake his comments. My opinion? Less thinking, and more enjoying the great music they did leave us with; here’s Smells Like Teen Spirit.

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