Apr 3, 2014

Cobain spoke for a generation, but we’re grown-ups now

Kurt Cobain perfectly embodied the '90s grunge and punk movement, a muffled voice of a quietly miserable generation. But his music has not aged well -- and neither have we.

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

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12 thoughts on “Cobain spoke for a generation, but we’re grown-ups now

  1. ianjohnno

    Why is Crikey wasting bandwidth on stuff like this?
    Kurt who?

  2. Matt Hardin

    And I read today that Courtney Love is planning a Broadway musical about Kurt. It’s all just product.

  3. Leroy Lynch

    Good article Helen, I mainly agree, except I probably still like Nirvana’s output slightly more than you, although they were never my top band. Some of it feels very much of its time and place though, more so than other similar alt bands. The perfect fantasy Nirvana album might have been the songs of the recorded-on-the-cheap 1st album Bleach, with the production of the 3rd one. The non album single Sliver hit the perfect balance I think. But you are correct in how the whole thing lives on more in the memory than on the stereo.

    For those reading this article who weren’t around or the right age in the 90s, I recommend Craig Shuftan’s book “Entertain Us” on 90s alt rock. Its not a comprehensive history of all the bands that did & didn’t matter, but its a great at capturing the vibe, the arguments, and the conflicting motivations of artists as they were happening at the time. It’s exactly how I remember it playing out in the real time media and amongst discussions with musos and fellow fans.

    If you’re intrigued by Helen’s line “The early ’90s is the first moment that mass culture grabs itself by the tail and starts to consume itself” I recommend Simon Reynold’s comprehensive book on this ongoing phenomena “Retromania”.

  4. Saugoof

    Funny, just some 20 minutes ago I listened to Nicole Tadpole on RRR extolling the virtues of “In Utero” and how well it stood the test of time.

    I’m definitely more in agreement with Nicole on this. While it’s been a very, very long time that Nevermind was on constant rotation in my house, every time it does pop up on iTunes shuffle now I keep thinking how amazingly well this has stood up.

    Normally I can’t stand that sort of mindset of people who stick with the music they liked when they were 25 for the rest of their lives, so kudos to Helen for moving on. But for me Nirvana is the exception. This was music that really mattered at the time which will always mark it as being squarely of its time. But for me it’s not just nostalgia, this is still just flat out great music.

  5. Patrick Brosnan

    “Now, though, the songs, some of which are very very good, are almost as unlistenable as 2 Legit 2 Quit.”
    … and Razer performs a triple pike back flip over the shark. There’s a point where the intention to be ironic become obvious and the irony is, well, lost.

  6. Kez

    In 1994 as a 15 year old angsty boy I contemplated doing myself in over Kurt. Pulled myself out of that pretty quick, but I listen to Nirvana about once a year for that indescribable feeling of being ‘understood’. Still works for me.

  7. TheFamousEccles

    You probably have a point, Raze. Nevermind was certainly of it’s time, and listening to it now days (as I do from time to time) I have found myself wondering about what I found so salient at the time. But then I was also 20yrs younger and brought up on a diet of Rory Gallagher and the Zep, and at the time starved for anything that wasn’t Bon Jovi or Gn’R.

    I’m with Saugoof and his thoughts on In Utero. Steve Albini is the key to this ‘un. Its why I also treasure PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me.

    But, try as I do, I really don’t want to be

  8. 64magpies

    @Kez. Yes, the feeling of being understood.

  9. TheFamousEccles

    (as I was saying before technology stepped in) I really don’t want to be an old fart, stuck in the 90’s, but there is really not a great deal that grabs me by the balls and insists that I pay attention – a certain youth oriented radio station has left me behind with the shite it cranks out (for the most part) and there is little left but to have furtive searches around the interwebs in the hope of finding something that’s not awful.

    Anyway, a good read.

  10. Tyger Tyger

    Tedious. Drop the “culture” anchor, nevermind the music. Careful you don’t eat your own tail.

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