Kurt Cobain Heroin Addiction

March 9, 2012 by staff 

Kurt Cobain Heroin Addiction, Much more than last year’s numerous celebrations of the 20th anniversary of Nevermind, reading here and there that Kurt Cobain would have been 45 years old yesterday but for that moment of despair on the banks of Lake Washington really hit home, and not only because it reminds those of us so moved when he joined what his mom called “that stupid club” of our own mortality.

To wax unduly nostalgic about the loss, as Baby Boomers invariably do when considering their fallen heroes, seems particularly inappropriate for an artist who railed against living in the past and being force-fed somebody else’s canon while his own went unheralded. (Scoff if you like, but he cared much more about the Melvins than Jimi Hendrix.) “Hate Haight! I’ve got a new complaint/Forever in debt to your priceless advice,” he howled, excoriating the notion that the ’60s should tell him and us how to live or what to listen to. And then along came Rolling Stone’s David Fricke on MTV’s mourning marathon to tell us every 10 minutes that he’d been “the John Lennon of his generation,” leaving us to rail, “He was the Kurt Cobain of ours!”

Of even less value is playing the game of “where would he be today?” Would he have broken up Nirvana and gone solo, pursuing softer sounds a la the Unplugged sessions, or would his path hone to the corporate rock of Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters? Would he have dragged Courtney Love down even quicker, or lifted both of them out of the downward spiral? (They’d have been married 20 years on Friday.) Would he pull out of music and into activisim like Krist Novoselic, or would he have been a stay-at-home dad to Frances Bean before reuniting Nirvana to headline Lollapalooza? Etc., etc., ack, ugh, phoeey.

Every scenario we might imagine seems absurd, and they all show a fundamental disrespect of and lack of understanding for a complicated, mercurial artist with a serious streak of perversity, conflicting desires to win our love and drive us away, and seemingly no filter for keeping the emotions of the moment out of the music he was making on stage or on record in the here and now. And ultimately it is the music that endures and which is the primary reason why the tributes yesterday resonate, because those sounds absolutely remain as urgent, vital and necessary today as they did then.

With that in mind, here is a piece written for Request magazine in 1993, circa the release of Cobain’s best album, In Utero, and based on one of only three interviews he granted at the time, to Jon Pareles at the New York Times, Robert Hilburn at the Los Angeles Times and this reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Several hundred people are waiting outside Club USA, a trendy New York disco in the heart of Times Square. It’s the third night of the New Music Seminar, the music industry’s largest annual gathering, and the crowd has come to hear the Boredoms, a jazz-noise group from Japan that’s one of the seminar’s biggest buzz bands. People are growing irritable in the heat of the muggy July evening because the beefy bouncers won’t let anyone in, even though the place is as big as an aircraft hangar and only half full.

Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic is standing with a small group that includes his wife, Shelli, and band biographer Michael Azerrad. Novoselic has gone unnoticed until now, even though he stands a foot taller than most of the people on line. Maybe it’s because New Yorkers don’t acknowledge celebrities in their midst, or maybe no one recognizes him since he cut the long hair and shaved the scraggly beard he wore in the video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” In any event he hasn’t asked for or received special treatment, which I find admirable, since it’s in keeping with punk rock’s central tenet that band members are no better than their fans.

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