In the 80s, as the classical age in rock gradually came to end and frontrunner after frontrunner passed on with drugs and fame at the centre of it, the world craved new sound. It was time for a revolutionary to rise, and rise he did. The world was taken aback by a skinny young guy with a guitar, donning a washed-out flannel shirt, ripped denim pants and worn out converse. The revolutionary was Kurt Donald Cobain. The revolution was grunge music.
Though Cobain's stint in the music industry was short — just six years — he made a huge impact. His band Nirvana’s hit songs like 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' and 'Come As You Are' became anthems for an entire generation. Today, 27 years after the 27-year-old's death, we thought we’d make a list of our favourite songs of his. Consider this an introduction of sorts to Kurt Cobain.
Where Did You Sleep Last Night
This song was performed live, and is in our opinion one of the greatest unplugged performances ever. Just the pain in the man’s voice is enough, even if he said no words. It’s a shame the song was never recorded because we can’t even fathom what they would’ve put together.
Cobain was a feminist, and there are no two ways about this. He spoke about countless social issues affecting women, and perhaps this song comes as his most blatant support to the cause. He wanted no boundaries, no curtains, and no softening up — just the cause, as raw as it is. He was a firm believer in karma, and that is reflected in the lyrics of this masterpiece.
Rape and abuse were common themes in Nirvana’s music. Cobain was dedicated to the cause, and wanted his songs to induce the chilling feeling that such incidents do, to reflect on them purely and honestly.
Just the sort of energy he puts into performing this song here is nuts.
Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam
Here’s what you’ll recognise is weird in this performance: the band never had a cello player but there is one on stage. Drummer Dave Grohl is playing the bass guitar and Nirvana’s infamous 6’7 bassist Krist Novoselicis (in our opinion one of the most underrated musicians ever) is playing the accordion. This is why you can’t stop loving these guys.
The angst-filled expressionism in Cobain's songs that often became abstracted into guitar solos, the introspection on loss, despair, alienation, suicide and life values soon became chants of an entire generation and with his hypnotic existentialism, Cobain became a celebrated singer and songwriter, performing for hundreds of thousands in tours across the globe. His songs and lyrics may seem provocative or lewd but are meant more to initiate conversation on terrible topics than titillation.
On April 5, 1994, at the age of 27, Cobain took his own life. In his suicide note, he borrowed a line from Neil Young and wrote "It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” Despite 27 years passing since his death, he not faded away and his influence continues till today.