December 15, 2008

Kurt Cobain - Suicide or Murder?


What do you think really happened?

Can anyone recommend a good bio on him?

Thanks

22 comments:

Starrlight said...

Oh man.

Heavier Than Heaven -Charles Cross (although many think he is just Courtney's bitch) The book "Nirvana" by Everett True, Come As You Are - The Nirvana Story, and rent the DVD Kurt Cobain, About A Son. It is nothing but interview tapes of Kurt laid over scenes from Washington. Oddly enough, Kidlet and I just watched it. Then end of it makes me cry.

As for suicide or murder. Here is what I think. Kurt had talked about killing himself, specifically blowing his head off, several times. Twice, in fact, in the film About A Son. So I think the ground work was there.

Do I think Courtney helped? Yes I do. Not in the hiring someone sense or pulling the trigger, but in doing so bad shit like telling him he dropped Francis a couple of days before he died.

So yes, I think she primed that shotgun even if she didn't pull the trigger.

I can not explain the lack of fingerprints on the note. Or the fact that his shoes were on and there is no way he could have pulled the trigger with his hand.

I don't think we have the whole story and I don't think we ever will. If I died and went to Heaven and got to have a conversation with Kurt, I don't think I would ask him either. I already feel like I have blood on my hands for being part of the generation that forced him to be our patron saint.

silverneurotic said...

Well after that last comment, I don't think I have to add much-but my best friend and I bonded over our love of Nirvana back in our teenage years. Now, twelve years later we are still best friends and fans of Nirvana.

Personally I believe in the suicide theory-I see Kurt's tragic life on a very psychologically point of view-and between his drug addiction/undiagnosed mental illness (most likely bipolar)and his family history of suicide...suicide makes the most sense despite the discrepancies in the case.

bob_vinyl said...

There are a lot of weird things surrounding his death and Courtney Love is certainly enough of a sociopath to have had him killed. At the same time, Cobain was self-absorbed heroin addict and had a love/hate relationship with his fame and that was probably a pretty good recipe for killing his dumb self.

Either way, his death ensured that Nirvana would never be judged fairly. A lot of luck and just a little talent made them, but Kurt's death meant that In Utero would never be seen as the ego-trip waste that it is. It also meant that he wouldn't make more albums bloated by his own ego that might have outlived the excitement of Nevermind.

Cobain is just another rock n roll asshole (see John Lennon) who was too into his fame to be a good dad.

About a Son is a really cool film. It's really sparse and it doesn't have any Nirvana music. Instead, the music is done by Ben Gibbard who is actually (unlike Cobain) a fine songwriter.

Malcolm said...

Maybe it's the Oliver Stone in me, but I think Kurt was murdered. Due to Kurt's history (talks of suicide, depression, etc.), someone could have offed him, made it look like a suicide and many people wouldn't question it. Just like other celebrities who died under questionable circumstances (Marilyn Monroe, Michael Hutchence, Paul Williams of the Temptations, etc.), I don't think we will ever learn the true story behind Kurt's death.

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

Starr, thanks for a great comment!!!
I watched "About a Son" too and it was eerie and meaningful to hear him in his own words describe his life.

Silver, yes, good points. Thanks for adding your thoughts.

Bob, I disagree with you, I think Kurt was way more than a "rock star". Since I'm not of that era I never had the connection to him I did with Lennon so I leave it up to others like Starr and Silver to help me understand what it was like to be a fan of Kurt/Nirvana. Thanks for your comment :)

Malcolm, I think the same thing but for me its because I connect Kurt so closely with Michael and I refuse to believe he killed himself.

Jessica said...

I was really sad about his death. I loved his music, and I still do. I don't know enough about the events surrounding his death to say whether it was suicide or murder.

bob_vinyl said...

What made him more than a rock star? A bunch of kids who wouldn't have touched him a short time before fawning all over him? A tragic death? What did he do other than publicly display his simultaneous distaste and love for fame? The records weren't even that good.

If you look at things after that first wave of the grunge explosion, Nirvana continued to do videos and tour and be big rock stars. Pearl Jam on the other hand, refused to make videos for their second record and instead of cashing in on a tour, they decided to fight Ticketbastard. They had their success on their own terms. Cobain and company caved into the industry. He was just a rock star. Like Lennon, he cultivated an image that people bought into, but under that image was a big fake.

The Mad Hatter said...

Bob,

I owe you a keg. Nuff said.

Z Mad Hatta

Jeff said...

I used to be a firm believer that Courtney was behind his death, I still haven't let that belief go, but I wouldn't be surprised either way. For a good Kurt bio I would recomend Heaver than Heaven by Charles Cross. There is definitely a little bias in there since the author was close with Courtney but otherwise I think it was really well written and documents his life very well. You just have to look passed the fact that Courtney is made out to look like a saint (at least by a drug addicts standards.)

Otherwise, I know we've had this discussion quite a lot in the past few weeks, but I disagree with Bob as well. I think it's pretty evident he is a great songwriter, by his three stellar albums. He's certainly overrated because of his death, but none the less he was still amongst the best of his decade, if not the best.

bob_vinyl said...

Three stellar albums? Bleach was decent. Nevermind was good. Incesticide was a b-sides/rarities collection. In Utero was a joke (the only way it could even be considered decent in any way). Unplugged in New York was pretty fantastic, but that was live. Then there's that Muddy Banks of the Wishkah live album and the box set. Hmmm, were there albums that I missed? By my count they released ZERO stellar albums (unless you count Unplugged which may or may not be a stretch).

By the way Barbara, I'd still like to know what made Mr Cobain more than a rock star.

Starrlight said...

That's your opinion Bob. And no amount of ranting is gonna change ours. Which is why I never bothered to change yours. Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one.

And besides, cynicism is 90's ;)

bob_vinyl said...

Wow, Starrlight. That was original. The "opinions are like assholes" bit is just plain dumb. It implies that everybody's opinion kind of smells like shit and, while some of them do, others smell like roses. But the point is that we can't tell the difference if we don't put them out there and argue a bit. If an opinion smells like shit, I'm going to call it shit. The Gen X idea that Cobain was some kind of tortured genius is nostalgic garbage that has a lot more to do with the strange romantic notions we have about tragic artistic types than it has to do with great albums.

I was into Mudhoney and Soundgarden and all in the late 80s and it was exciting to hear even the inferior "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on the radio. I have good memories of that actually and I liked the first two albums. They weren't great grunge albums, but they were good and I was into it. Once Cobain had his taste of the limelight, he sold everything that was good about what he was doing to those who would make him famous. Then he made a rotten record, because he thought he was as cool as Flipper. He was the downfall of grunge, because he was the least common denominator that brought it to the masses.

My opinion? Call it what you want. Nirvana is still not all that wonderful and Cobain was mediocre.

Starrlight said...

Why thanks Bob. I'd like to think it was at least as original as the bored cynical music snob bullshit you like to slather on.

Opinions do smell like either shit or roses. Which one it is, shockingly enough, is yet another opinion. See how that works?

I guarantee you that for every opinion out there someone will think it smells like shit, even if you think it smells like roses.

Sorry it hurt your feelings that I expressed my opinion on the odor of yours. I could frankly give a flying fuck what you think of mine.

I just find you to be a pretentious little shitball and a music snob of the worst kind. I was just feeling pissy due to our shit weather and decided wtf, let's pull on his proverbial finger.

Feel free to think what you want about Kurt and any other band. Just don't be bummed if you don't convert everyone to the cult of ennui anymore than I am gonna stay up nights worry about your card carrying status in the Cult of Cobain.

Buh bye.

bob_vinyl said...

Wow. Starrlight is angry. I guess I hit a nerve when I pointed out that his emperor has no clothes.

bob_vinyl said...

I guess I should check profiles before I include something that indicates gender in my response. My apologies. Let me rephrase:

I guess I hit a nerve when I pointed out that her emperor has no clothes.

Starrlight said...

Starrlight is a her. And done with you. Back to pulling your own finger, Bob.

Jeff said...

Well I'm going to try to steer clear on any personal attacks here... Anyhow, Bob I know we will never agree on In Utero, which I find to be one of the best albums of the 90s but, the other two albums I was reffering to, were the only other studio albums: Bleach and Nevermind. I sort of feel like Nirvana suffers from their hype (if that makes any sense at all.) Just because they "sold out" or whatever people like to label it as, (usually just an excuse for a band becoming popular due to making good music) they wrote some amazing music. They were leaps and bounds ahead of any other grunge band of the time because they wrote music that was appealing to practically everyone. It had enough angst to remain in the genre and it had enough pop for casual music fans to enjoy. I'll also be the first to admit that Nirvana is terribly overrated, they're not The Beatles, and Kurt is not John Lennon, but I think all their hype gives people a reason to hate them. I have a tendancy to hate Pink Floyd's The Wall, and its for the same reason people hate Nirvana. Because it's overhyped, if it were treated like say Atom Heart Mother then I wouldn't rant about it so often. I just think all the hate towards Nirvana is based solely on the fact that they were immensley popular and once Kurt died, deified.

Once again, I respect everyones oppinion towards their music, so I don't want this to get personal, but that's just my view.

bob_vinyl said...

Starrlight's comebacks are as original as her opinions. "Pull my finger...he..he..." Did you read that in the same book where you learned what to think about Nirvana?

Jeff, I disagree that Nirvana was leaps and bounds ahead of other grunge bands. Soundgarden, though not my favorite, is clearly the best band to come out of that scene. They combined technical skill, creativity and soul in a way that Nirvana never came close to. Nirvana appealed to so many people, not because they were better, but because they were a least common denominator. They were easier to stomach than the more pure Mudhoney. They had better timing than Screaming Trees who couldn't seem to put out a record at the right time to save themselves. They didn't bother to abandon the industry and be successful on their own terms like Pearl Jam. They were really just lucky (and luck has more to do with success in the music industry than peraps anything else) and willing to be complicit in playing the industry game. I'm not trying to say that Nevermind was awful. It probably wouldn't have sold like it did (or facilitate sales for the vastly inferior In Utero) if it wasn't any good at all. But there were definitely better albums to come out of that scene. Nirvana were the followers, not the leaders. They were the ones who told everyone to feel "stupid and contagious" in a way that even people who didn't feel that way could enjoy, because it was watered down and easy.

While it may not directly affect the music, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam sold plenty of records without succumbing to the trappings of the professional celebrity like Cobain did. They never got "deified" and therefore there is no need to controversy to their standing. My point isn't that Nirvana was terrible. They weren't. I have the albums too. (I even pull out In Utero from time to time to make sure I'm right about it and not just thinking the same thing I've thought for 15 years.) The point I'm trying to make is that have become grossly overrated. If he hadn't died, the string of bloated records he would have recorded would have grown old. Instead, he assured his legacy, rock fans sure do love someone who dies young. It's a strange obsession. It's like the sure way to become a pop culture saint (especially if you check out at 27).

Jeff said...

Bob - I don't disagree that they are grossly overrated. I mean who can honestly say that Kurt is one of the best guitarists in rock history with a straight face? Well beside Rolling Stone of course. I just think people are way too hard on them because they are grossly overrated, and maybe it's justified, but I think without all the crazy attention they were given, they were still an amazing band. I suppose we'll never agree, but I think even if they were just rehashing what has been done before, they did it in a way that made it accessible to everyone, and made it great.

bob_vinyl said...

I think we can agree that accessibility was something they had over at least many of their grunge compatriots. How that accessibility fits into their case for greatness is where we seem to diverge. We don't seem to have grown tired of the debate though as this is the third blog we've hashed this out in over the course of a couple weeks!

The Mad Hatter said...

Um, wow. Haven't been on in a bit, but here's my two didactic cents. I realize we all have opinions, but there's a line. I've agreed and disagreed with the same people over different things, but it's never personal. I guess what I'm saying is I'm kinda bummed to see the inconsequential and very personal verbal fighting, and would rather see arguments for and against Cobain, simply. As I said in my recent review that Bob just alluded to, I don't really care for Cobain; in fact, I'd probably get as worked up against him as anybody, but let's keep the peace people. If I wouldn't say it in person, I wouldn't say it online, either.

hailtheking said...

i believe he killed himself. can't take the preasure anymore. It is a shame, cause he is a great songwriter.

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