Yesterday... ten years ago... the world found out that Kurt Cobain had blown his head off.
Yesterday... ten years ago... my long-standing love affair with rock-n-roll began.
It was a Friday and I was having an early party for my 13th birthday. My friends and I came home from school and found out on MTV that this guy - this Kurt Cobain - had killed himself. I knew who he was. Faintly. I know who Nirvana was. Faintly. My sister Amy owned one of their albums (it had a baby penis on it!). They played on "Saturday Night Live" once (Charles Barkley was the host!). And "Weird Al" Yankovic did a parody of one of their hits. (I owned all his albums!)
Thank God for MTV saturation. When the news hit that Kurt Cobain had killed himself, MTV did what it always does - replayed the same shit endlessly. For my 13th birthday, I watched the ceaseless 24-hour cycle of Nirvana music videos, live concerts, interview footage, and whatever else MTV had stocked in their archives. And as I watched it over and over, it slowly occurred to me how great Nirvana was. The music was loud and angry. And melodic and catchy. Their message was loud and angry. And passionate and clear. And Kurt Cobain just seemed... cool.
Cool music + nihilism + turning 13 years old = Paul Rust now loves rock-n-roll.
That summer of 1994, I bought all of Nirvana's albums. That summer, I grew out my hair and parted it down the middle. That summer, I made music videos for 9 of the 12 tracks on Nirvana's "In Utero" (the most notable being "Rape Me," which ended with me pointing a toy gun at the camera and proclaiming triumphantly that "LeMars sucks!" in the most prepubescent of prepubescent voices).
Did mom and dad worry?
Does it look like I care? (carefully looking over shoulder to see if they care)
Naturally, over the next few years, I swung off Nirvana and onto the other branches of the rock tree. Nirvana to Pixies to Sonic Youth and Velvet Underground. And soon, you're in the thick of rock music and trying out everything. Jonathan Richman. Sleater-Kinney. Pavement. Big Star. It don't matter. And by the time you're a senior in high school, you got 300 CD's and music is something you can't imagine being without.
You talk about it all the time.
You think about it all the time.
You write blogs about it all the time.
And you know... once in awhile... I'll dust off my old-timey Nirvana albums and give 'em a listen on that Victrola.
And they still rock like it was 10 years ago.