On April 5, 11 years after Kurt Cobain’s controversial suicide, his hometown of Aberdeen, Washington embraced the legacy of its lone rock icon by affixing Cobain’s lyric, “Come as you are,” to the town’s welcome sign.

The gesture, while nice in a 1950s sort of way, indicates the conflicted and complicated legacy of Cobain and his bandmates, who once redefined music without even trying.

The legacy of Nirvana has become the legacy of Kurt Cobain, and while he may have been the lead and most recognized force of the band, without bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl, the band would not have had as large of an impact on the music of the early ’90s. Novoselic and Ghrol have further stated that Nirvana was an equal partnership.

Cobain should be remembered within the unit of the band as contributing a part of the same whole. While Cobain’s poetic gifts as a lyricist cannot be questioned, he was not, and should not be, likened to a solo artist. His legacy should be much like that of John Lennon, who is remembered as a musical genius in the context of The Beatles, one of the most influential bands music has seen.

Many fans seem to see Cobain’s legacy as exclusive. But, for a man who put music first, admitting that he could get into a band or musician before he saw them live, this type of legacy could be considered what he wanted.

Others may see such glorification of Cobain’s fame as a direct insult to everything he stood for. It is a misconception and misstep to think that Cobain or Nirvana was anti-fame, anti-media and anti-music establishment.

Nirvana answered its sudden rise to fame by ignoring it. They had no entourage, no yes men or women and no publicists.

Nirvana had no attitude during the thousands of interviews they went through and even though they maintained a no-press policy during one tour, they accepted MTV News interviewers who promised to cover the tour’s two lesser known opening acts.

The band was against the excess and the fakeness in music and in the music world – hence the problems with Guns & Roses and the label of “grunge.” They simply couldn’t take the endless barrage of the same old, same old pack journalism that hounded them at every tour site, wanting explanations of this new sound, this new movement. Who could blame them?

They didn’t want to be a corporate version of world and genre changing music – they wanted to be the people’s version. Similarly, Cobain never wanted his history to write Nirvana, but rather he wanted Nirvana to write his.

Allard can be reached at dallard@campustimes.org.



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