Released as a single 21 years ago today, Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana is one of those rare tracks that defines an era. It’s the theme song for a generation of unimpressed youth and the guy who wrote those lyrics Kurt Cobain was something of messiah for the grunge set. Truth be told, at the time I didn’t see what the big deal was. Top me Cobain seemed like another drug addicted hipster whose message of indifference was as old as drug addicted hipsters themselves. Yet it wasn’t until I heard Nirvana’s Unplugged record that I actually got it. Their cover of David Bowie’s ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ resonated with me for with it’s starkness and Cobain’s haunting delivery.
Cobain’s artistry and talent are on thing but his strong point of view and voice are what made him a star. Cobain was a strong supporter of Pro-Choice, gay rights and very anti-war. In the liner notes of Incesticide, he wrote, “”if any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us-leave us the fuck alone! Don’t come to our shows and don’t buy our records”. Cobain was also an incredible storyteller in his songs. Each tune paints a picture of a man at odds with loneliness, disillusionment and the world at large.
And yet its as important for me to remember that Cobain died because of addiction. He killed himself and his body was found in his home on April 8, 1994. He was 27. He’s not so much of an American hero but a tragedy. So on this Monday, it’s Cobain’s artistry that inspires me. Also,Cobain’s legacy makes me think about the millions of people who are suffering with addiction and alcoholism. I’ll remember that today I have a choice that I can choose recovery. And Cobain’s struggles will remind me that I’m not cured and I have to keep doing this thing if I want to stay well. Lastly, I’ll try to remember where I was when I heard this song for the first time. Enjoy your Mondays, homies!