Tragic Kingdom: Missing Kurt Cobain 25 Years Later

If you lucked out and got to be part of Generation X, you probably remember where you were when you heard the news that Nirvana’s charismatic and troubled frontman had died.

For a lot of us, Kurt Cobain was music. It’s not that what he was singing about was edgy, but that Nirvana found that place inside you that hurt, that screamed, that thought independently, and screamed it at you from a stage. Danced guitar rifts behind it, shredded and loud.

This isn’t going to be an article about Nirvana — something I plan to do later on, but this is more a post to mark the 25th anniversary of the passing of a legend.

Like every other made-for-TV-movie version of a rock star, inner turmoil married with fame and drugs, and God knows what else, and it was just too much to deal with. What happened to Kurt was ridiculously common, almost cliche. It seems nearly sacrilegious to say so, doesn’t it?

Kurt’s music was intense for mood, tween Me. Nirvana was one of those bands that put a voice to all of the aggression, all of the regret and exhaustion and pain I felt but couldn’t vocalize. The stupid angst, the depression, the fear and anger I couldn’t explain to anyone else were set to music and reflected back at me. Screaming for the girl who couldn’t find her breath.

Oh, tween me was such a drama dweeb.

The thing about Kurt and Nirvana is that I don’t just miss them, I miss everything they represented. I miss that time, that whole world where the eighties was at the tail end of finally becoming the nineties and the millennium was looking to be a bright future. I miss the weird sense of unity and togetherness our generation had and the mingling of all things space and tech with the revival of vinyl. We were going to change the world with Sesame Street-learned morals, baggy pants and a rage directed squarely at the machine.

Even after Grunge had sort of played itself out (when you could buy full ‘grunge’ ensembles at JC Penny, for instance), Kurt died and the band broke up, Nirvana still rocks on.

I remember where I was when I heard the news. I was eating a corn dog at a church picnic when I heard. I was fourteen and a brand new transplant from a big city into a small, Midwestern town that I didn’t know. No friends yet, no idea how to navigate a new life and suddenly all MTV can talk about is how nothing will ever be the same..

It wasn’t.

Where were you when you heard the news?