The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words

Kurt Cobain: Twenty Years and Counting

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I remember the Kurt Loder news report like it was yesterday. As a 12-year-old, Cobain meant everything to me. He was the reason I decided to put down the viola, and pick up a guitar. He was the reason I even had a thought that I could maybe write some songs. As we hit the 20th anniversary of his suicide, all the new photos from the scene of his suicide genuinely make me sad. I still listen to Nirvana quite a bit, and I still consider Kurt to have been a brilliant songwriter – not necessarily because he was doing something so different from those before him, but because he wasn’t afraid to just say whatever he wanted, regardless of how anyone felt. Maybe it just felt more “real” than anything else to me at the time. Whatever it was, it changed my life.

There’s a poetry in the music, in the way his voice cracked during a live show – especially the Unplugged show. The irony when he sings “and I swear that I don’t have a gun,” plays crystal clear in my mind. Everything just feels so intimate, like he’s just a good friend who should still be sitting next to me, smoking a cigarette, and pondering the bullshit of the world.

I don’t necessarily wonder what he would be doing now if he was still alive, or what his music would sound like. I mean, realistically, Nirvana would have fizzled at some point, and from what’s been written, it seemed like they were heading toward a swift end, and Cobain was venturing on toward an acoustic type of album. I’m sure it would have been pretty personal, very emotional, and frankly, given my age at the time, I probably wouldn’t have understood why he wasn’t making rock music anymore. I think it would have been like Dylan going electric at Newport – lots of mystified fans, wondering what the hell happened to their leader. The Unplugged album was still Nirvana, but Kurt acoustic, as a solo act would have been confusing to my adolescent mind.

Be it our parents, our grandparents, our friends, or those beyond our circle whom we’ve looked to for guidance, sometimes our heroes die. When my aunt died, the Rabbi told us not to question why it happened, but to instead simply know that it happened, and to make sure that we all remembered the impact she made on all of us. Kurt Cobain definitely had an impact on a lot of us, and I will always remember him for how he affected my life.

 

About Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin spent more than a decade in Education as a high school English teacher, and is now an Instructional Coach for the Longview School District. He is also the founder of The Poetry Question, an online journal which focuses on reviews of small press poetry publications, and runs a regular series called "The Power of Poetry," where notable poets share their personal stories of how poetry has affected their lives. Margolin resides in Vancouver, Washington with his wife, and daughter.

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