Thank you, Kurt Cobain

By JOE KONZE JR
On April 3, 2014

There was a silver external hard drive that my mom found when she helped me clean out my room the summer before I left for college in 2010.

Neither of us knew what was on it. To my mom, it looked broken, like another piece of technology that needed to be tossed in the garbage.

Being the hoarder I am when it comes to computers and hardware, I brought it to college. From my freshman to senior year, that hard drive sat in the corner of every room I lived in, collecting dust.

I glanced at it constantly, always wondering what was on it, but never got around to actually investigating. Finally, last week, I plugged it in.

I discovered that the metal box that looked like it was straight out of an '80s sci-fi film was actually a time capsule, filled with music from my pre-teen years up until my senior year of high school.

In amazement, I looked through the different folders and found a huge collection of Nirvana's music.

For hours,I sat in my room with my speakers on full blast and let the heavily distorted, grungy, sludgy and growling sound of Nirvana's "In Bloom" fill my room with an aggressive, in-your-face atmosphere.

It brought me back to my 13-year-old self, sitting in my bedroom, surrounded by the notes, lyrics and sounds of Seattle grunge blaring through my Sony Stereo headphones. My hands cradled an Epiphone Les Paul, my fingers trying ferociously to hit the fretboard perfectly to replicate the sound of Nirvana, with its muddy guitar and unorthodox tempo.

But I couldn't stay focused. I couldn't duplicate the heavy distorted guitar. I couldn't hit the fretboard just right. I was sidetracked by a roaring voice that fiercely cut through the music.

It was the voice of Kurt Cobain. I was infected and hooked on the sound and the raw emotion and passion that accompanied the music.

I was infected by Seattle's grunge.

"In Bloom" was one of the first Nirvana songs I ever heard.

The lyrics, "He's the one / Who likes all our pretty songs / And he likes to sing along / And he likes to shoot his gun / But he knows not what it means," speak about people who listen to music for the wrong reasons. It was a message to people who sang along to Nirvana's music but couldn't tell you the message behind the songs.

I liked that. I loved the honesty of the band - it was something I identified with, no matter what I was doing or where I was.

Cobain's lyrics weren't colorful. They weren't sugarcoated. But they were straightforward, speaking of pain, love and real-life experiences. Today's musicians rarely match the rawness and emotion of Nirvana's lyrics.

But some, like Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day and Beck owe much of their musical success to Cobain and how successful he was in such a short-lived career.

When Cobain took his life on April 5, 1994, he left the world behind physically, but the legacy of his movement and what he stood for still lives on.

So last week I sat in my room, cradling my Epiphone Les Paul and headbanging to the music, still in awe of Cobain's words and the power of his legacy.

 

email: arts@ubspectrum.com


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