10 Kurt Cobain Quotes to Live By
Kurt Cobain has been heavy on my mind recently, probably due to the fact that Nirvana made headlines recently when it was reported that Spencer Elden, the baby who was photographed for the cover of their legendary record Nevermind, released back in 1991, decided recently to sue the band for what he claims is now child pornography. It’s almost a bit comical because Elden over the years has seemed to revel in the fame he has been granted ever since he was 4 months of age. The internet has exploded with all kinds of memes, joking at the fact that the whole thing seems like the most shameless money hungry plot to not only exploit said fame even further, but to possibly give a bad name to one of the greatest rock bands of all time.
But to be fair to Elden, none of us will truly understand his experience growing up as the “Nirvana baby”. Not only was Nevermind a huge success that propelled Nirvana into mainstream fame, it also changed the face of music, particularly popular rock, in a way that has established it in the canon of greatest albums of all time. It’s simply unforgettable, and to this day, still one of my all-time favorites; from beginning to end it is undeniably a masterpiece, managing to bridge the gap between punk rock and pop music in a way that was never done so damn well before at the time. Now imagine your image (and tiny baby cock) forever attached to something so iconic and timeless, and never quite having a say in it.
NEVERMIND. Elden can eat a chode. I know I am biased here because I am such a huge fan of Nirvana, and Kurt Cobain has always been this enigmatic, muse for me and my own creativity, but this whole thing is pretty lame. So when I saw the headlines, I didn’t obsess over the hype but instead thought to myself “damn, I haven’t listened to Nirvana in a minute”. So I’ve been blasting their records like it’s nobody’s business, pulling out old books and documentaries, once again falling back into the rabbit hole that is the life and death of Kurt Cobain.
Cobain was such an enigmatic figure, a tortured soul if there ever were one, and seemingly one of the most genuine artists to ever exist. Unfortunately, Nirvana wouldn’t last very long, only releasing 3 albums before Cobain died of what was ruled a suicide back in 1994. But he did leave behind a wealth of interesting interviews and a posthumously published book of journals that attempts to give a deep insight into who he really was.
For someone so young and seemingly a slacker, he was wise beyond his time. He helped define the angst and anguish that influenced Generation X during the ’90s, and so many to this day relate to him, as an artist, and the music he left behind. And as a big stoner, his art and wisdom are perfect for those of us trying to find our higher selves.
So now that it’s the 30th anniversary of the release of Nevermind, I’ve gathered a few quotes that I felt were worth puffing a joint alone and meditating over. In the end, I’ll include some recommended reading and viewing to help you get more of your Nirvana fix. So here’s 10 Kurt Cobain quotes we all could learn something from.
Kurt Cobain on Music and Art
Punk is musical freedom. It’s saying, doing and playing what you want. In Webster’s terms, ‘nirvana’ means freedom from pain, suffering and the external world, and that’s pretty close to my definition of Punk Rock.
This quote alone gives me a deep admiration for Cobain because I’ve always felt a similar sentiment. I discovered punk, skateboarding, and weed when I was in high school and it changed my life. I became obsessed with playing and learning guitar, I’d skate from sunup to sundown without a care in the world, and smoking felt like it opened up the doors to perception for me. All of this came at a perfect time in my life when I was just riddled with teen angst, yet had no productive outlet for it. These things spoke to me in a way that nothing else did and I found myself relating in a way that meant the world to me.
With this quote, punk rock is really just a metaphor. All of us should have that thing in life, whether it’s a hobby or something you love, that helps you feel liberated at the end of the day. When everything else in the world and life goes to shit, this thing should be your saving grace. It should pull you from the depths of despair and be your constant reminder that “every little thing is gonna be alright”. Achieving your own ‘Nirvana’ is everything.
Rap music is the only vital form of music introduced since punk rock.
This was something Kurt has gone on record saying several times now, including a bit in his journal. The 90s was, arguably, the golden era of hip hop, and even if you disagree, it’s a fact that it was definitely the time when hip hop was evolving at a rapid speed. So many different styles and sub-genres were introduced and are obviously still heavily influential on the music of today. But either you hated and feared this new art form, or loved and accepted it with open arms, and Cobain seemed to do the latter.
If I had to guess, Cobain probably saw the similarities between hip hop and punk rock – both were heavily anti-authoritative and shamelessly went against social norms. Both were initially rejected by mainstream pop culture (until the powerful realized that pre-packed rebellion was profitable) and those that indulged openly were also outcasted by society. They seem so different, but when you really think about it they are very alike, including embracing angst.
I’ve never been a very prolific person, so when creativity flows, it flows. I find myself scribbling on little notepads and pieces of loose paper, which results in a very small portion of my writings to ever show up in true form.
The creative process is something to behold and yet it can be the most frustrating thing ever for artists. The truth is that the process varies for everyone. What works for some may not work for others. So you have to find it within yourself, even if it’s unconventional and a bit weird.
Kurt’s Journals seem like a messy compilation of thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Many of them come off unfinished and may not seem very well thought out ideas. But there is always something there worth revisiting. No matter what your process is, I always recommend writing everything down, even if it seems stupid, weird, and incoherent at the time. You never know – what seems like a mess today could be tomorrow’s masterpiece.
Kurt Cobain on Fame
I’m a spokesman for myself. It just so happens that there’s a bunch of people that are concerned with what I have to say. I find that frightening at times because I’m just as confused as most people. I don’t have the answers for anything.
It’s quotes like these that make me believe Cobain was one of the most real pop icons of all time. We have such a fetish for idolizing famous people in this country (and we’re now seeing that fetish manifest in politics) and it can be scary sometimes. To look to these people that are influential for answers to big questions is understandable, but to follow them blindly in a cultish manner is taking it too far.
Kurt Cobain was far from perfect, and unlike most famous and influential people, he was never ashamed to remind us of his imperfections, and that’s about as real as real can get.
I have to admit I’ve found myself doing the same things that a lot of other rock stars do or are forced to do. Which is not being able to respond to mail, not being able to keep up on current music, and I’m pretty much locked away a lot. The outside world is pretty foreign to me.
This quote doesn’t really go deep enough into it, but anyone who is a fan probably knows that the fame thrust upon him seemingly overnight was the downfall of Kurt Cobain. While it’s debated that he always wanted to and strived to be a famous rockstar, the level at which he got it was something truly unforeseeable. He didn’t deal with the fame very well and longed for simpler times of playing small punk venues and he even stated once: “I really miss being able to blend in with people”.
The biggest takeaway from this quote is that fame comes with a price. As much as us common folk are trained to believe that fame is simply everything you want, when and how you want it, it’s a lot more complicated than that. Famous people do have to give up so much to establish fame and stay relevant, and while some may revel in it, for others it might just be the death of you.
Kurt Cobain on Love and Sexuality
Throughout my life, I’ve always been really close with girls and made friends with girls. And I’ve always been a really sickly, feminine person anyhow, so I thought I was gay for a while because I didn’t find any of the girls in my high school attractive at all.
In a lot of his Journal entries, Kurt shares his dismay about the cliche American macho-male archetype that he’s always had a deep disdain for. By today’s standards, I think he was pointing out what we call “toxic masculinity”. As a kid who wasn’t very big into sports and was sometimes confused by his sexuality as he got older, and had a tendency to lean towards more artistic endeavors, Kurt has always had an issue with the macho-man stereotype that probably refused to take him seriously. This is something I’ve always related to, and I believe many other fans have too.
He was surprisingly ahead of his time with his thoughts on sexuality and what masculinity meant to him. If only he was around to share his thoughts and ideas on things now.
I had a really good childhood up until I was nine, then a classic case of divorce really affected me.
Kurt Cobain has always been a tortured artist, with his bio including things like dealing with his parent’s divorce at such a young age. It’s a tale as old as time, and something so many kids can relate to, The pain and angst from dealing with and going through something like that seem to drive the pain and angst that is prevalent in his music. Even if you’re just some angry kid that doesn’t really understand exactly what the words are about, you FEEL it in a Nirvana song, and for someone looking for something to relate to, that feeling can be so powerful.
Kurt Cobain on Being A Father
There’s nothing better than having a baby. I’ve always loved children. I used to work summers at the YMCA and be in charge of, like, 30 preschool kids. I knew that when I had a child, I’d be overwhelmed, and it’s true… I can’t tell you how much my attitude has changed since we’ve got Frances. Holding my baby is the best drug in the world.
If you watch documentaries and interviews of Kurt, he’s always had a tendency to be a bit bleak and seemingly down and out. So when you see those moments of pure bliss from him, they truly stand out and feel powerful. That’s how seeing pictures of him with Frances are like – it’s almost like you see him as truly happy, more so than in any other photo you could dig up. And I believe it makes it really hard for people to accept that he decided to take his own life when his daughter was still so young.
Becoming a father is something that can definitely give your life purpose, especially when you need it most. Kurt really seemed to love being a dad which is something that resonates a lot with me. It really is one of the most important things you can do in life.
Kurt Cobain on Life
The worst crime is faking it.
I love the simple sentiment of this quote, and it’s something that seems to embody everything I loved about Kurt Cobain. He has always struck me as just being one of the realist famous people ever. While so much of the lifestyles of the rich and famous seem so fake and manufactured, Kurt always seemed just true to who he was and what his mission as an artist was. It’s what made every Nirvana album and release so great for different reasons, without ever straying away from their roots and reason for being. I just find it so admirable that this was an ethos that he found important and demonstrated it can be put into practice when dealing with fame and influence at such a heightened level.
I really haven’t had that exciting of a life. There are a lot of things I wish I would have done, instead of just sitting around and complaining about having a boring life. So I pretty much like to make it up. I’d rather tell a story about somebody else.
It’s strange to hear someone who got to travel the world playing music, influencing an entire generation of people, say their life hasn’t been that exciting, and it might even seem a bit sad that he would think that. Personally, I believe this quote is more of a warning to those of us that spend so much time complaining about where we are in life instead of learning to truly appreciate everything that we love about it. In reality, Kurt Cobain’s time as a rockstar was short-lived in comparison to the long journey it took him to get there, and maybe looking back on who he used to be may have filled him with regret.
Life is just way too short to bitch and moan, and finding all the excuses in the world to do absolutely nothing is such a waste. If you live the life always striving to be the hero of the story you would write, then you probably wouldn’t need to make up a story, to begin with.