succumbing to peer pressure

Thursday, April 08, 2004

A really lovely op-ed piece about Kurt Cobain in today's Times. Here's the end:

When Kurt died, a lot of the capitalized froth of alternative rock fizzled. Mainstream rock lost its kingpin group, an unlikely one imbued with avant-garde genius, and contemporary rock became harder and meaner, more aggressive and dumbed down and sexist. Rage and aggression were elements for Kurt to play with as an artist, but he was profoundly gentle and intelligent. He was sincere in his distaste for bullyboy music — always pronouncing his love for queer culture, feminism and the punk rock do-it-yourself ideal. Most people who adapt punk as a lifestyle represent these ideals, but with one of the finest rock voices ever heard, Kurt got to represent them to an attentive world. Whatever contact he made was really his most valued success.

You wouldn't know it now by looking at MTV, with its scorn-metal buffoons and Disney-damaged pop idols, but the underground scene Kurt came from is more creative and exciting than it's ever been. From radical pop to sensorial noise-action to the subterranean forays in drone-folk-psyche-improv, all the music Kurt adored is very much alive and being played by amazing artists he didn't live to see, artists who recognize Kurt as a significant and honorable muse.

The kid who looked like him sat next to me in the basement where we were playing and I knew he was going to ask me about Kurt. This happens a lot. What was Kurt like? Was he a good guy? Simple things. He asked me if I thought Kurt would've liked this total outsider music we were hearing. I laughed, realizing the kid was slightly bewildered by it all, and I answered emphatically, "Yeah, Kurt would have loved this."


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