Kurt Cobain: 20 years gone, still just a click away
Twenty years after the death of Kurt Cobain, a spotlight still manages to shine brightly on the Nirvana frontman, thanks in part to technology and an Internet audience that didn't exist in 1994.
Certainly the music Cobain made and the impact Nirvana had on rock music in the early 1990s is why we remember the singer. But the Internet, and social media in particular, have changed how we remember, whether an idolized rock star has been dead for 20 years or 20 minutes.
Growing up in the age of Nirvana and grunge music meant getting yourself to a live show or sitting in front of MTV if you wanted to see the band perform. Today, there's a sizable collection of videos on YouTube, including stylized mainstays such as "Smells Like Teen Spirit" or "Heart Shaped Box" and raw live versions of "Breed" and "Negative Creep." There are also numerous songs from the ever-popular, cover-filled "Unplugged" session.
Twitter is another place to go a for a hashtagged remedy to fill your Nirvana void. Media outlets around the world are publishing varying forms of remembrances, and SPIN magazine tweeted out a link to its 1994 cover story on Cobain's death. KEXP in Seattle paid tribute to the singer on Friday and tweeted a blog post featuring videos of Nirvana covering other people's songs. The Grammys' feed pointed us to a unique collection of 10 songs in which Cobain was name-dropped by other artists.
Seattle photographer Charles Peterson, who made a career out of capturing Nirvana and the music scene that spawned a worldwide phenomenon, shared 10 rare and unseen Cobain images with Billboard. In a Q&A with the mag, Peterson explained why he thought Cobain and Nirvana had remained so important. "I think that grunge and Nirvana was this last big musical movement before everything was virtually connected in real time all the time. Now things just move so quickly that there's really no ability for something to bubble up organically and be meaningful, not for an entire generation or world."
At least a new generation is still reacting positively to Cobain's lasting legacy. A viral video posted last month by TheFineBros Youtube site offered a glimpse at what teens today think when they hear Nirvana. "I've heard this song before" and "Who doesn't love Nirvana?" should be sweet music to the ears of anyone who worries about whether the music holds up among the Miley generation.
Cobain's hometown of Aberdeen, Wash., paid tribute to him on his Feb. 20 birthday with the unveiling of an awkward crying statue. The town already has a Kurt Cobain Park, and some would like to turn his childhood home into a museum. A video which surfaced on YouTube last month offered a look inside.
The nearby town of Hoquiam, Wash., where Cobain lived briefly, will hold its Nirvana Day on April 10, the same day the band is set to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
And finally, cartoonist Ward Sutton, in a piece for the Village Voice, preferred to imagine what Cobain's life would have been like if he'd chosen not to kill himself. "In Bloom: The Alternate History of Kurt Cobain" draws on the years Cobain has missed and how his presence might have humorously impacted them.