Thursday, February 5, 2009

Brendan's Note

by Brendan Taylor

Dying prematurely is the most striking part to him to you. That and his voice I suppose; his ephemeral, compelling voice. Suffocating is all you tend to do and perhaps he chose to bring the pillow in a bit closer. Some don’t want the last words or all-wrong floral arrangements compromising their final bubble-wrapped moments. Some dictate their last breath, if this is even the case, but it’s not the point.
Kurt Cobain never trailed off into the beating unconsciousness brings with it. He never wanted to relive days of youth or grandeur. He was “married, buried,” had a daughter that needed changing, a house that needed chipping and painting, music that needed retooling and promoting, and perhaps these were more chains to his persona than anything else. Really, he never grew up.
Some choose to tell their own stories for you to be left guessing at them as a detective/victim to their sheer fame, searching the remaining pieces of a lousy crime scene. Like James Dean or Robert Johnson, some become folklore unto themselves. You never see where exactly the surge of their pathway is leading, if to anywhere. This turns into another form of rationalizing a boring existence in hoping for the other side of consciousness. We lean often for some kind of energy.
Cobain was the energy he so sang of. This is also why he is not here anymore. Perceiving the worst forms of one’s reality is part of battling one’s self; some choose to dictate the fight and others keep on ignoring, keep on drowning. As screwed up and torrentially misguided as this will sound, it was the art of never allowing youthful naiveté or devotion to music be taken from him, that original notion of never straying into reunion tours or sad songs that try to recapture the light of what was. He never talked about which route will be more efficient to pick his daughter up from school. He never had his hair fall out, never started playing golf or shaming the Bush administration. Cobain never lamented in someone else’s pride or anxiety concerning his creations. By giving up, he never quite gave in.
Perhaps he should have stopped playing is all, but how can one ever stop when all they are attempting to do is start over? It’s as if you get high on art, then in the same swift backward motion: kill it forcefully. Is that victimizing your so-called idols, is it martyrdom? Or is it selfishness getting in the way, always expecting what you’re tritely familiar with? If in fact selfishness leads to suicide, then suicide derives from a self-driven world that manipulates, conjures and falsifies an individual’s very being.
Marlon Brando said, “There are no artists anymore.” He cited the modern forms of celebrity, vanity and wealth as the downfalls to the actual process of creation. Surely he forgets art is not just the scene he was involved in. But perhaps the suffocation is an art unto itself. Art is meant to resist, someone, something. Kurt resisted everything. To quote another heavy namesake, Bob Dylan remarked, “All my songs are protest songs,” when he was faced with animosity toward his new “sound” away from acoustic, topical songs.
Kurt was a rare form, a moving protest, one in the substandard MTV culture which became a paradise for those “trying to be”… anything, those self-rated who parallel everyone else as a measure of and for themselves. They didn’t have the chance to rate him, they couldn’t touch him; they were all over, smothering him, he couldn’t bear to think what he had become.
Yes there are artists, Mr. Brando, not only Shakespeare and Picasso, who did it for the sake of it, but there are ones who do it because they have to be recognized in order to rest; there are ones who do it because they know they’re bound to be heard, have to be heard, need to be-- what grows inside is a world within a world.
Cobain was an exception in modern pop music, he wrote in the grossest forms of irony and sang in the rigorous truths of originality. The rest can be left for duplicators to carbon-copy or discuss over the mediocrity of their late-night smokes.
You end up bothering still with what was made because it’s been approved almost, ridiculously, by someone, by something. That’s also because there was something there--Cobain’s humdrumness was so similar, so customary to our own passiveness. His pain was foreseeable, not comprehendible. His path is one stuck, maimed; preserved in a time warp.
When I still listen to Nirvana, Kurt’s voice emanates a tone of sarcasm that cannot be denied in most instances. Yet it is a sarcasm of ironic wit plagued by monotony. He takes the perspective of an outsider with simplistic lyrics that have the ability to reach and be interpreted in variant ways, while communicating how easy the game looks; how pathetic it may all be viewed if you’re not a regular participant in situations.
The simplicity with which Cobain executes is his greatest strength; in his words, in his melodies, even in his voice, for simplicity brings rawness, which brings passion. Maybe he was passionately ambivalent; maybe he decided to go in the polar opposite direction from most of the people in his logging home-town out of desperation. For, Cobain was not courageous; he was courageous in voice, in spirit, he was humbled by his overtly narcissistic placement in the world. Kurt was irregularly sensitive to the transience of things and maybe as a child he became too attached to have to watch them die all over again. Perhaps like all great artists, his head wouldn’t leave him alone; his heart wouldn’t leave him alone. Krist Novoselic said once, “Kurt was a great artist, completely original. The best artists create their own voice, Kurt created his own world.”
Maybe we’re all just dramatists trying to save everything as its happening, trying to capture what’s written while it’s being read; maybe Kurt knew to end it before things got a little awry; maybe he was a stupid kid who should have stuck things out and realized that times smooth over. Maybe some are too honest they never learn how to die the way we want them to.
Well, whatever… nevermind.

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