Saturday, May 19, 2007
If You Can't Sing . . .
Your lyrics should be brilliant. I loved Kurt Cobain. He couldn't sing, but his lyrics were so unbelievably pure and true that he wasn't made for the fickle world the rest of you inhabit or even the flatness of mine. He was so true to himself that he transcended music to me. Kurt Cobain spoke in a voice I could understand. He had many imitators in his time and ours: nothing annoyed me more than the legion of plaid flannel-shirted posers that showed up for the first day of school in eighth grade. Their favorites were Pearl Jam and Nirvana, in that order. I never understood Pearl Jam's appeal; they were so sensationalist and fed off the spirit of the times instead of adding to it. If he were still alive, I know he'd hate my politics, and a good portion of what I listen to musically, but the world is always full of meaningless variety. We'd agree on Leadbelly, and probably Robert Johnson or Son House. My look in those days was very different: I combined long sleeve broadcloth shirts and assymetric paisley neckties in a wide array of colors with a black leather jacket and a pair of leather gloves I never took off in public. Nobody dressed like me, and I purposefully dressed unlike everybody else. Perhaps I was the biggest poser of them all. Kurt Cobain hurt like me, but turned it into art in ways that I can only approach. People will listen to a rock star more than a fumble-mouthed poet. I purposefully know little about Kurt Cobain aside from his music. Anyone who knows me knows that I don't appreciate art that needs a long-winded preface or tons of biographical information on the artist. I should be able to listen to a song or a poem, and appreciate it for itself. I love Kurt Cobain's music, and I'm sad that there will never be more. I will listen to what he left behind and respect his privacy and choices. If it takes living how he did to make the music he made, I can understand anything he decided to do in pursuit of art. I also think we should let his genius rest; he made music I love, and now he doesn't. He's in my prayers when I steady myself enough to speak to the Lord. Our prayers will lift us all.