Day 2 – Your Least Favorite Song: Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit (or anything else by Nirvana, for that matter)
(this photograph still breaks my heart)
Hands down, I hate (HATE HATE HATE!!) Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. I hate it so much, in fact, that I won’t even post the video because, well…I just hate it.
NEWSFLASH, America: Smells Like Teen Spirit did NOT define me. It did not define my friends, my teenage years, my Generation X status. To be quite honest with you, I’m kind of pissed off that my regular old run-of-the-mill teenage angst and depression was attributed to Seattle’s music scene and not solely based on the fact that I was a hormonal, bitchy, 16-year old.
About 6 or 7 years ago, I worked as a part-time bookseller for Barnes & Noble. One afternoon, a teenage girl came into the store with her mom. Her mother walked straight over to me and asked, “What year did you graduate from high school?”
I replied, “1994.”
Then her daughter squealed. It was quiet, but it was still a squeal.
The young girl started getting all squirmy. Her mom nudged her a little and they both giggled.
Mom piped in, “Well, ask her!”
The teenager, in her most serious voice, explained to me that she had to write a research paper on any topic she wanted and what she wanted to write about was…
Kurt Cobain? WHAT THE HELL?
“Can you tell me everything you know about him and what it was like back then? Do you have a lot of books about him in here?”
First of all, “back then”? At that point, he’d only been dead for about 8 or 9 years. The early 90s wasn’t the Dust Bowl, little girl.
“Well,” I started to break it to her gently without punching her in the face and telling her to choose another more worthy celebrity, dead or alive. “I wasn’t a fan so I’m not the best person to talk to.”
And her mother got upset. Her mother got upset with me because I wasn’t one of the flannel-draped crazies singing chants and shit like that under a Seattle tree with Courtney Love in the days following Kurt’s suicide.
“So, his death didn’t have an impact on you at all?”
In all honesty, it does have an impact on me. Because people like this clueless mother who assumed I was a balled up mass of suicidal tendencies on the afternoon Kurt Loder announced the singer’s death on MTV News. But, look, I have lost friends to suicide and I have lost friends, in the emotional sense, to debilitating depression. Some have made it out alive and some still struggle daily with the prospect of waking up and dealing with their demons. I have even lived through it. It’s an illness and I will in no way make fun of it or make light of it.
Maybe because Kurt Cobain’s death sealed his martyr status, the very thing he tried so hard to escape and failed. He failed big. And I think, in some confusing words that may piss off a lot of his fans, that society bestowed upon him, as a dead man, what they believed he was seeking but could never find as a breathing, living human being…acceptance. Just think about it. He was mocked and ridiculed as a musician during his few years in the spotlight by a society that feared he was convincing us all, through his music, to become drug addicts who moped around all damn day and refused to shower. Every attempt he made at sobering up was met with a report that he was an unloving and inattentive father and enabling husband to Courtney Love. Society played a huge part in cutting his life short and now, well…all apologies, right?
I’m getting way off track here and I think I will post this with very little editing, simply because it think the schizophrenic wording of this whole thing just goes to show you that I have a lot to say about Kurt Cobain and no real way of focusing on just one aspect of his life. Basically, my respect for Kurt Cobain is tremendous. But therein lies my distaste for what has happened to his memory and his music and the burden my generation now carries.