On April 5, 1994, the famed frontman for legendary grunge band Nirvana ended his life prematurely. That day, we lost a great entertainer, father, husband, son and brother all at once. Kurt Cobain was most loved for his powerful lyricism and eerily harsh vocals. But beyond that, he exuded a strange familiarity of someone who felt a lot like ourselves.
Smells Like Teen Spirit
Teenagers and adults who grew up in dysfunctional homes could relate to Cobain's angst and pain. Finally, the words of feelings we didn't know how to express were singing loudly from our radio. Here was a man who understood the wounds of instability. Just like Cobain, the scapegoat children don't assimilate. We retaliate with behaviors that are contrary to standards set by society, or more specifically, authority. The hurt inside us lingers from unresolved tension and catastrophe. As victims of negligent parents—whether emotionally or physically—we seek for attention elsewhere. We are also blamed for things gone wrong. More than likely, we blame ourselves.
Listening to Nirvana was like listening to our most daring selves. Cobain's sound waves channeled his inner boldness, rage and tenderness. Through his singing, it is easy for us to express our truest feelings—our deepest sense of self. This man gave us the guts to vocalize emotions long after the songs stopped playing. I most definitely relate to Cobain's frustrations of being shuffled from house to house and choosing friends—even music—over family. I too chased stability outside my supposed "home." Cobain, myself and so many others found consistency in dangerous habits or places. In substance abuse, addiction, bad relationships —in simply running away. But just like Cobain is more than that, us scapegoats are also more.
An Escape From Assimilating
Cobain instilled a spirit of unapologetic self-serving to those who have never felt care. For me, his music was a comforting presence in a world of unfair and undeserving obligation. When a child's word revolves around pleasing bitter parents of divorce, we train ourselves to delicately walk on eggshells to earn love. We lose our own voice and may quickly learn that self-love is pleasing others. We become accustomed to doing everything for everyone and nothing for ourselves. In turn, we may become fragile adults who are one bad day away from complete destruction.
To someone who has never felt understood or who has had no choice in the "options" that they're presented from manipulative or totalitarian parents, Cobain presented a daring alternative to compliance: not caring about how others react to your actions and words. Essentially, he taught me, a scapegoat, to shake off responsibility for other's emotions. He showed us that we aren't alone in our struggles, that even someone as professionally and monetarily successful as himself can still be struggling.
April 5th isn’t a day to grieve only the loss of Kurt Cobain, but the loss of everything he might have been. So, from another fan who felt they knew you without ever meeting you, thank you, Kurt, for letting us in and for showing us who we could be, and most of all, reminding us that we're never alone.