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I can't believe that it's seriously been 15 years since Cobain shot himself.
Seeing that image, with the text "15 years ago today," made my heart stop.
I can remember when April 8th was completely ingrained in my brain as a date I'd always remember. I was the kid in high school that you didn't tell the Cobain jokes to, because I was in shock for a few days afterwards, and besides, I definitely wouldn't have laughed. Afterwards, I decorated my locker with all of the photos I ever had of Cobain, and changed the arrangement annually. In 1995, for my birthday, my friends surprised me by emptying out my locker and leaving nothing in it but the Cobain Rolling Stone articles compilation book, which remains to this day one of the funniest and most touching things that they ever did for me.
I know that cultural touchstones sort of become cultural touchtones because we are told that they should. But this shit was the read deal for me. I remember seeing Nirvana play on SNL the year they broke*--my first exposure to them in our cable-less, rural town--and making fun of them with my parents while secretly feeling like oh my god what is this i want more. I remember my parents buying me Bleach and Incesticide (thanks mom) for Christmas one year. I never truly forgot my ex-stepdad for not letting me pony up $25 of the $30 I had in my bank account to go see Nirvana play the Aragon in Chicago, a show that Jim Derogatis attended, and sometimes swears was one of the best rock shows of his life. I bootlegged the Nirvana Unplugged concert off of the radio when they simulcast it, a pretty hot commodity until they released the album a few years later. And after Cobain was gone, I'd do things like writing "KC 67-94" on some part of my clothing for the first few times I ever played rock music for an audience.
It's such a weird thing to have a parent sneer at something you loved, and often as I kid, I suppose that's thrilling. On April 8, 1994, it just really sucked.
A few years ago, a guy from Halifax made a movie about surviving long enough to be older than Cobain was when he died. I went to see it on the same night I could have gone to see DJ Jazzy Jeff, and most of the time, I regret missing Jazzy. But on a day like today, I remember that the filmmaker seemed to be a pat of my tribe.
If 16-year-old me could see 31-year-old me, I think he'd be appalled to hear that I forgot about the significance of today until a random tumblr post reminded me (well, that's happen after I explained what the internet had become, I suppose). I think he'd also be excited to hear that I could use a computer program to download every Nirvana bootleg I'd ever heard of, if the need arose. Plus, I live in the Pacific Northwest, a fact that would have exploded my sixteen year old brain.
And music still wrecks me, you know? And that's really exciting, because I used to worry that I'd just get bored with music at some point. I've seen so many shows in my lifetime that, hopefully, hearing loss will be much more curable by the time I grow old. Some of Nirvana's songs now sound a bit cheesily dated (I'm looking at you, "Come as You Are"), some still hit me on the gut ("Pennyroyal Tea"), and some I appreciate a heckuva lot more than I did then (most of the bangclanky stuff on In Utero).
But Nirvana will always, always be the first band that really, really mattered. And when you have a relationship to music like I do--so many memories, high points, and friends made as a result--that memory might fade, but it never disappears.
Heaven, for me? It's where I get to listen to all the music that Cobain never got to write, record, and release.
P.S. I'd never seen that SNL clip again, until I watched it, just now, over here. Gave me the chills. And man--pretty clean-sounding, eh? God bless video on the internet.