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Kurt Cobain would be 50 years old now, had he lived to see this day. It is interesting to think about what he might have to say, and how he would have responded to today's musical scene, which is dominated even more exclusively by pop music than it used to be just before "Smells Like Teen Spirit" launched the alternative music revolution of the 1990's.
Nowadays, some people are saying that rock music is dead. Not sure that I fully agree, although I can see that, in terms of the music that many, if not most, young people are making that is actually played on the radio, then it may appear to be for many people. We no longer have bands like the Beatles or Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones of old, or the emergence of the kinds of bands that emerged from Seattle, and who came to dominate that early part of the 1990's.
That raw sound and energy has been replaced with far more manufactured sounds and music, and the emphasis among most of these new artists is happy, as opposed to the angst and anger that bled through much of the music of the 1990's, or the protest and activist music of the 1960's.
Some people are happy about this. And some, like me, feel a bit cheated, like we are going backwards. Like music is going the way of so much else, which is to say, it is getting more processed and exclusive. More manufactured. Prominent musicians today are starting to also be "too big to fail" musicians, and that seems a bit of a shame to me.
This might make me sound old, but whatever happened to the times when kids would strap on an old guitar and just jam in the garage, just try to make music? Sure, it would not sound overly polished, but that was the point. We did not know it at the time, but that explosion of this kind of garage music in the 1990's was the last time that we had that kind of music being popularly accepted and hitting the radio waves, and inspiring kids for a new generation to produce similar music.
Now, in this age of reality television shows and Youtube videos and no actual music on MTV, we have some artists like Beyonce and Rihanna and Taylor Swift who have come to dominate. They can hardly be said to have a raw sound, or to produce music that is accessible to everyone, including young kids. Hell, most of the popular artists today do not even write their own music. Often times, they need machines to enhance their singing voices, which just reinforces how exclusively the music scene these days is about image above all else. If you have the right image, if you can be trendy and cool and sell not only your music products, but your image, than you have got it made. If you do not, even if you have something to say (perhaps especially if you have something to say), chances are you will not reach a very wide audience.
It's a sad state of affairs.
So, what would Cobain have to say about that? There were hints that he was gravitating towards a major shift in his musical career, that he was interested in joining Hole or pursuing a solo musical career, perhaps just him and an acoustic guitar. Would Nirvana have even continued to exist for much longer? Would they have been one of the many bands to get back together after a certain number of years? What would Cobain's music, and message, be today?
All interesting questions, but of course, also just purely speculative, because Cobain is not here. It is unbelievable to think that he has been gone now for almost a quarter of a century!
Still, his memory lives on, and we have not only the music that he did produce with Nirvana, but also the music that Nirvana's rise helped to bring to the airwaves and, for a while at least, came to dominate those same airwaves.
So long as we keep Cobain's memory alive, we can always have that, and can then hope that a Cobain and/or Nirvana for a new generation can once again wrestle away some of that excessive popularity, and all of the egotism and narcissism that comes with it, and bring music back to the people. That was what was best about the punk spirit which most of the Seattle bands, and many of the popular bands of the nineties in general, had. To make music more accessible and more meaningful. And to inspire a younger generation to create their own music, instead of dreaming of being the next big pop star with all of the advantages and pitfalls that go along with that.
In the article below, the memory of Kurt Cobain is clearly remembered, as his daughter and mother honor him. It was just two days ago that he would have turned 50 years old. Perhaps right now is when we need to remember Cobain the most, and the spirit of the revolutionary music that he produced! In this day and age of fake music and fake news and massive egos to those controlling these kinds of things, we need that punk spirit now more than ever before!
This was the article that I got me on this topic to begin with. Not sure why the author uses Mark Lanegan and members of Pearl Jam and Nirvana in the title, because he barely mentions them in the actual article, and he does not specify exactly how they honored Cobain to begin with. However, it was an interesting article nonetheless, and so I used it.
Mark Lanegan, Pearl Jam and Nirvana Members Honor Kurt Cobain By Brett Buchanan - Feb 21, 2017