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View Full Version : Am I the only one who doesn't like Kurt Cobain?


Doc Sarvis
11-09-2005, 06:05 PM
Inspired by the Paul Anka thread it occured to me that among my group of peers I seem to be the only one that has no love for Kurt Cobain or Nirvana. I don't really mind the music but I don't get why people idolize this guy. As far as I can tell he didn't do anything really groundbreaking except for a few hit songs that have outlived their shelf life.

Kurt and Nirvana was good for the time and place they made it in but now it just seems kind of sycophantic to worship this drug-addled, depressed whiney guy that really wasn't that great of a musician.

Anyone else feel this way?

Paranoid Randroid
11-09-2005, 06:11 PM
Kurt and Nirvana was good for the time and place they made it in but now it just seems kind of sycophantic to worship this drug-addled, depressed whiney guy that really wasn't that great of a musician.

Anyone else feel this way?

If you replace "wasn't that great of a musician" with "was a terrible musician - no, shouldn't even be called a musician", then you've got a backer in me. He played a few power chords and whined at the right place and the right time, and somehow there are still people that deify him.

It's ... depressing.

myskepticsight
11-09-2005, 06:12 PM
I spent my young childhood listening to Nirvana. I remember hearing on the radio that he died and I was really sad. I was eight (have an older brother that listened to them).

I don't think Nirvana put out the greatest music but it did resonate with a generation. I dig it though.

But reading "Heavier than Heaven" by Charles R. Cross (Cobain bio) was pretty interesting. He was a weird guy. And he did have a kind of messed up childhood. And he brought a lot of his problems on himself (hmm...heroin anyone?)

AskNott
11-09-2005, 06:16 PM
I don't like him either. I've heard folks wax poetic about his guitar playing, but he seems like just another basher to me. I'm willing to overlook a guy's bad singing if he can play well, or if he writes great songs. Cobain didn't do any of that, IMO. It's a shame he was a junkie. It's a shame he killed himself. It's a shame he was famous for no apparent reason.

davmilasav
11-09-2005, 06:27 PM
It's a shame he was a junkie. It's a shame he killed himself. It's a shame he was famous for no apparent reason.
It's a shame that critics keep calling him "The Voice of Generation X." I'll pick my own Voice, thank you very much.

And stop calling me "X."

Syntropy
11-09-2005, 06:29 PM
Nope, you're not alone. Mediocre guitarist, whiny voice, looked like he hadn't showered in about 2 years. I don't like Neil Young for the same reasons. And I never understood the popularity of the music. But then, I never understood the popularity of Depeche Mode, either. They both strike me as Music To Slit Your Wrists By.

levdrakon
11-09-2005, 06:31 PM
He only became known to me upon his death, so you're not the only one. I never was into the grunge music scene.

He was grunge, right?

Mr. Blue Sky
11-09-2005, 06:33 PM
He only became known to me upon his death, so you're not the only one. I never was into the grunge music scene.

He was grunge, right?

Grunge and grungy.

betenoir
11-09-2005, 06:52 PM
As far as I can tell he didn't do anything really groundbreaking except for a few hit songs that have outlived their shelf life.

Kurt and Nirvana was good for the time and place they made it in but now it just seems kind of sycophantic to worship this drug-addled, depressed whiney guy that really wasn't that great of a musician.

Anyone else feel this way?

Well...first I would say I don't think they've outlived there shelf life. They still sound pretty good to me. I think they will continue to. Some songs are like that.

Secondly, groundbreaking? Depends on how you define it. Was he really doing anything new? No, and I don't think he thought he was. It was just groundbreaking because his particular punk/post punk band was the one that sold a million copies. Sonic Youth acknowleged that (the year punk broke).

And as for the whorship? Well that's never a good idea. But he makes as much sense as James Dean. And almost as much as John Lennon.

He's a symbol...we do that. Not good but we do that.

And for the record I'm pissed off at him for settling for being a stupid symbol and not sticking aroungd to see if he could make some more music.

Hey, It's That Guy!
11-09-2005, 07:11 PM
I had cassettes of Bleach and Nevermind back when I was in 8th grade, when they were making it big, but I grew out of them. To me, Nirvana always remained "children's music," like they were a stepping stone for young teenagers to cross on their way to discovering better music. Now I find them unlistenable: the distorted, noise blithering whine of a drug-addled half-wit. Plus, the guy was a fucking coward. He couldn't face the responsibility of raising a baby daughter, so he retreated further into drugs and then popped himself. (Then again, if I was married to Courtney Love, I might consider the same.) I have no sympathy for someone like that, and I won't canonize him or say that he was important to our culture or the grand scheme of popular music in any way. He didn't have anything truly insightful to say, and wasn't even talented enough to say it very well.

Plus, the Pixies did everything Nirvana became famous for, but they were a lot tighter of a band, more FUN, more talented, and preceded Nirvana by five years or so.

interface2x
11-09-2005, 07:16 PM
But then, I never understood the popularity of Depeche Mode, either. They both strike me as Music To Slit Your Wrists By.

Hey hey hey, let's not be rash here. I'll be damned if I stand by helplessly while someone bashes Depeche Mode ;)

myskepticsight
11-09-2005, 07:27 PM
Plus, the guy was a fucking coward. He couldn't face the responsibility of raising a baby daughter, so he retreated further into drugs and then popped himself.

To my knowledge (bios, interviews, etc.), he did drugs for 2 reasons:

-Self-medicate a stomach problem he never could get a diagnosis for.
-To escape being famous - not escape raising his child. While he and Courtney were bad parents (both junkies), they seemed to truly love Frances. Kurt hated being famous while enjoying it at the same time. I think he just wanted to play music, but the money was also nice (hey, who wouldn't like the money). I've never been addicted to heroin, but I can tell it's pretty fucking hard to quit, no matter what responsibilities you have.

Kurt wasn't some super talented guy, but he sold a lot of records and his videos got play. There are plently or artists now that aren't very good but people still love them. Nirvana is definitelty a gateway band - so they are important. To more seasoned ears, they are pretty blah (they aren't on my playlist anymore really), but man to a kid they are golden.

Revenant Threshold
11-09-2005, 07:32 PM
I'm not a fan. I think they're very much overrated. But then I do love the Foo Fighters, so I can't just say Nirvana were entirely awful :p

treis
11-09-2005, 07:57 PM
Its tough to say bad things and really easy to praise someone that died so they naturally grow in stature after their death. For another example of this see Kennedy.

Ass For A Hat
11-09-2005, 08:31 PM
Plus, the guy was a fucking coward. He couldn't face the responsibility of raising a baby daughter, so he retreated further into drugs and then popped himself. (Then again, if I was married to Courtney Love, I might consider the same.) I have no sympathy for someone like that, and I won't canonize him or say that he was important to our culture or the grand scheme of popular music in any way.
I don't understand how your confused notions about suicide should have any bearing on how anyone perceives Nirvana's music. Cobain clearly had problems. He killed himself. He made some music along the way. His music, and all music, should be taken at face value.

I'll say for the record that I still enjoy Nirvana. I don't listen to them as much as I did when Kurt was alive, but I think they still hold up. Kurt Cobain wasn't a great guitar player, but he had his own style. He wasn't a great singer either, but his voice worked great for his band. He also had the beneift of having a brilliant drummer. Personally, I think he was a pretty good songwriter too. Maybe he wasn't Paul Westerberg, but who is?

To be sure, Kurt Cobain was in the right place at the right time. He came along and made a lot guys with spandex and long hair look like the obvious frauds that they were. Maybe if it wasn't him, someone else would have been there to take his place. But things happened the way they did. I still miss him.

raindog
11-09-2005, 08:32 PM
imo, a talentless hack

What Exit?
11-09-2005, 08:36 PM
Not alone. I thought he was whiny and bad. To me Seattle sound is Jimi Hendrix and Heart not whining non-musicians.

Jim
Cranky old Gen-Xer Curmudgeon.

middleman
11-09-2005, 08:40 PM
I really liked the music he produced, but I don't think he is some great visionary. His music was enjoyable but is too mixed with nostalgia for me to give an honest criticism.

As far as a guy, I couldn't care less about him. He seemed like a loser. I wouldn't have wanted to hang out with him and I wasn't terribly disturbed by his death.

Also, may I say that he is not even in the same neighborhood as John Lennon. Lennon produced a larger, much more significant body of work. Nirvana's contribution to civilization (at least pop culture) was a drop in the bucket compared to Lennon's.

It always annoyed me how they compared the two.

Nirvana= A good band with one great album.

John Lennon = One of the most influential artists in history with NUMEROUS great albums.

Sgt. Pepper's alone eclipses Kurt Cobain's contribution to society. And that was just part of Lennon's body of work.

soulmurk
11-09-2005, 08:59 PM
I'm with the OP, and I thought I was the only one.

When Nirvana and Soundgarden and AIC and all the rest started getting airplay, I absolutely loved it. It signaled the death of bands like Warrant and Poison, and for that reason alone I embraced "grunge".

I wore out my copy of Nevermind just like many others, but it wasn't because it was such a great album (perhaps I thought so at the time, but it hasn't really held up that well), but because it was new and different to what I'd been hearing in my musically sheltered life... specifically, it wasn't "glam". It seemed to me to be what people who embraced punk must have felt when it came along and kicked disco in the ass.

Now, if a Nirvana tune comes on the radio I'll usually listen to it and tap my foot, but I generally don't go out of my way to listen to them at all and I've come close to physical altercations with enraged fans when I dare to even suggest that he was not a very good lyricist. That's the part that I really don't get: why he's credited as such an ingenious writer. He wrote whiny drivel most of the time, and complete nonsense the rest of the time. His lyrics were neither deep, nor profound... and I was doing drugs at the time so if anyone could have found meaning in nothing, I'd have been a candidate.

I've also received bodily threats for suggesting that if he hadn't died when he did, in the way that he did, he wouldn't be anything but a historical footnote now, but that's a topic for another thread I think.

And, I still maintain that the best band to come out of that time period and area is AIC.

John F
11-09-2005, 09:06 PM
He was a giant ass IMO.
Without him Grunge would have still happened with the rest of the Seattle bands "locked and loaded".

Still, I admit the first 30 seconds or so of Teen Sprit it wasn't hard to tell they were going to be big.

BTW way to go Dave Grol for keeping on, and I hope that really was the last song....this time.

What Exit?
11-09-2005, 09:16 PM
...snip... specifically, it wasn't "glam". It seemed to me to be what people who embraced punk must have felt when it came along and kicked disco in the ass.
And, I still maintain that the best band to come out of that time period and area is AIC.

Question and a small nitpick or clarification.

Does AIC = "Alice in Chains"
Punk was a reaction to Progressive Rock. I remember Quotes I disagreed with.
"Rock has become too produced"
"Rock is meant to be simple"
They complained about groups like ELP, Rush, Genesis and especially Yes.
Strangely enough not Pink Floyd.
I even heard some complaining about groups like Zeppelin, because apparently Page played his guitar too well.
There is a classic movie called The Decline of Western Civilization (1981) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082252/)
No quotes unfortunately except my very poor memory.

Jim

Guinastasia
11-09-2005, 09:26 PM
I liked Nirvana, and I'll listen to their songs still, but I always preferred Pearl Jam. Although they've been sucking in the past few years. ("Last Kiss?" What the fuck, Eddie?)

Oh, and Courtney is a soul-sucking skank.

levdrakon
11-09-2005, 09:38 PM
Punk was a reaction to Progressive Rock. I remember Quotes I disagreed with.
"Rock has become too produced"
"Rock is meant to be simple"
They complained about groups like ELP, Rush, Genesis and especially Yes.
Strangely enough not Pink Floyd[/URL]
Jim

Interesting you should say that. In the late 70's early 80's when I embraced Punk, Pink Floyd, Alan Parsons Project and maybe Deep Purple were about the only groups I didn't hold in distain.

I have no idea why.

Larry Borgia
11-09-2005, 10:00 PM
I don't deify him, But I really like Nirvana. Not as much as I used to, I'll admit.

pokey
11-09-2005, 10:21 PM
I never clicked with Nirvana and I never clicked with Kurt Cobain. Nirvana was really only something that was important to me because of Hole. I really liked Hole. I loved Soundgarden. But Kurt Cobain never said a single thing that I cared about in any way. I liked Nevermind in the background and was sick of Nirvana when I got sick of Smells Like Teen Spirit. I always truly felt Kurt Colbain was the ultimate white middle class skater punk kid who had every advantage and still found crap to bitch about. The only thing I liked about him was that he was feminist and I think he set a really good example for boys growing up at that time. Guys under 30 are really cool and I think Kurt Cobain actually did a lot to show how a guy can be a big king without needing a zillion groupies to make himself important. It wasn't enough to make me care about his music or his death though. There were other people like that who made music that was more interesting to me.

Scissorjack
11-09-2005, 10:23 PM
Whiny, self-indulgent adolescent pretty-boy jerk who played the "tortured artist" card despite not having any discernible talent: if a 14 year old's wretched "the world sucks because I'm so sensitive and everyone hates me" poetry were somehow distilled into music, it would sound like Nirvana. Hence the appeal, I suppose, but encouraging faux-tormented boho angst among middle-class white kids ought to be an indictable offence. Shit, at least Mudhoney were fun.

Yookeroo
11-09-2005, 10:54 PM
They complained about groups like ELP, Rush, Genesis and especially Yes.
Strangely enough not Pink Floyd.

Even Pink Floyd:
The legend goes that when Malcolm McLaren was putting together the Sex Pistols, he picked Johnny Rotten to be lead singer not because he liked the kid's voice or stage presence, but because he liked his T-shirt. What the future wannabe Antichrist had done was take a Pink Floyd shirt and scribble the words "I hate" above the band's name.

In other words, it was hard to be less cool than Pink Floyd in the punk years. Though they'd been the darlings of the British underground in the late '60s, by the end of the '70s they represented everything angry young rock fans hated about the music business--they were dinosaurs, plain and simple. (http://www.metroactive.com/papers/cruz/08.11.04/pink-0433.html)

Snooooopy
11-09-2005, 10:59 PM
Its tough to say bad things and really easy to praise someone that died so they naturally grow in stature after their death. For another example of this see Kennedy.

Dear God ... KENNEDY CAN'T BE DEAD!!!!! NOT EVERYONE'S FAVORITE MTV VJ!!!!!!!!!!!

Unless you meant some other person named Kennedy. I can't think of anybody, though.

Superdude
11-09-2005, 11:26 PM
Dear God ... KENNEDY CAN'T BE DEAD!!!!! NOT EVERYONE'S FAVORITE MTV VJ!!!!!!!!!!!

Unless you meant some other person named Kennedy. I can't think of anybody, though.


According to this (http://www.drudge.com/1999/19990719.htm), she IS dead.

First I'd heard of it, too.

soulmurk
11-09-2005, 11:27 PM
Question and a small nitpick or clarification.

Does AIC = "Alice in Chains"
Punk was a reaction to Progressive Rock. I remember Quotes I disagreed with.
"Rock has become too produced"
"Rock is meant to be simple"
They complained about groups like ELP, Rush, Genesis and especially Yes.
Strangely enough not Pink Floyd.
I even heard some complaining about groups like Zeppelin, because apparently Page played his guitar too well.
There is a classic movie called The Decline of Western Civilization (1981) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082252/)
No quotes unfortunately except my very poor memory.

Jim

AIC = Alice in Chains, yes. Everyone in the know knows that, sheesh! :p

Staley's death, though fairly predictable what with his lifestyle, was mournful (I won't say tragic) because it meant no more AIC or Mad Season albums (both of which were, IMO at least, consistently good and able to stand the test of time), whereas Cobain's death was sad only because he selfishly denied his son a father and left him in the care of the nightmare-made-real, Courtney Love.

I'm not a fan of many of the punk groups that came to popularity/notoriety at the end of the 70's/early 80's, so you are probably very correct in pointing out what it was they were reacting to. I do know though that many people were happy to embrace punk and help give it momentum because commercial radio was dominated by bands like the Bee Gees and Donna Summers. In my mind (and perhaps I'm in the minority), it was embraced by some as the death knell for disco, much as grunge was embraced by some because it ended the chokehold glam rock had on radio and television.

Back on topic, is there anyone out there who feels Cobain's lyrics were exceptionally meaningful? Or even something other than the gibberish they seem to me? I'm just curious, as I've heard his genius proclaimed many times and am wondering if maybe I'm just too dense to get it. Despite hearing the argument as many times as I have, I've never had a satisfactory explanation for the phenomenon of his lyrical "genius". It's always explained away in a pretentiously dismissive "you just don't get it and never will" statement.

Superdude
11-09-2005, 11:31 PM
According to this (http://www.drudge.com/1999/19990719.htm), she IS dead.

First I'd heard of it, too.

By the way, I was being facetious. The report refers to her CAREER being dead.

As of September 2005, she's an occasional panelist on VH1's Best Week Ever.

See here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisa_Kennedy)

Superdude
11-09-2005, 11:33 PM
... denied his son a father and left him in the care of the nightmare-made-real, Courtney Love.

Correction:

His child is a girl, Frances Bean.

I know way too much about a band I don't like.

And I should quit commenting in a Cobain thread.

Snooooopy
11-10-2005, 12:47 AM
By the way, I was being facetious. The report refers to her CAREER being dead.

As of September 2005, she's an occasional panelist on VH1's Best Week Ever.

See here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisa_Kennedy)

She dated Screech? Ick.

betenoir
11-10-2005, 04:04 AM
if a 14 year old's wretched "the world sucks because I'm so sensitive and everyone hates me" poetry were somehow distilled into music, it would sound like Nirvana.

Um. Yes. I thought that was the point of rock and roll :) .

(Except when it's 14 year old's poetry about some day ruling the world.)

Ludovic
11-10-2005, 05:28 AM
For what it's worth, he didn't want to be a symbol and an idol, either.

Busy Scissors
11-10-2005, 05:56 AM
I think everyone would agree that personally, Kurt Cobain didn't give us much to work with. He was a junkie. He was a whiner. He married Courtney Love. He lacked the basic grace to keep his mouth shut, head down and make the most of his success. But really, big fucking deal. Because what he did give us was a great rock and roll band, the best to come out of the US for a long, long time.

When a band becomes as world-stridingly popular as Nirvana did, there's going to be people queuing up to tell you how much they suck. Juvenile, but its just the way it is. Like they didn't deserve their success because there were a bunch of better bands knocking around the bars of Seattle at the time, or he has a bad voice, or it was all down to the Pixies. Complete horseshit of course, they were as big as they were because they were the best and people liked them for being the best. They found a brilliant equilibrium point between the power of classic rock/metal and the aggression and attitude of punk rock that took a broom to all of the pussified hair bands that were passing for rock and roll at the time.

Its tough to say whether they'll stand the test of time; like a lot of people I wore out my copy of Nevermind from listening to it so much and don't play it too much these days. I was surprised to hear what an icon Kurt Cobain has turned out to be, though. My kid sister, who was two years old when he shot himself, is a big fan along with all her circle of school friends. Interestingly, they don't say they're fans of Nirvana, rather they're fans of Kurt Cobain.

Nonsuch
11-10-2005, 09:05 AM
While I don't idolize depressed or self-destructive people, I think Cobain had something interesting, or at least potentially interesting. I was never a big Nirvana fan, but you can see how his lyrics, whiny or self-absorbed as they may be, have the kind of directness and unpretentiousness that can really score with people. It doesn't surprise me that people still find him fascinating even as Nirvana proper's reputation starts to fade. I found particularly telling his observation that, once he got famous, the same mullets who used to stuff him into his locker in high school were now coming up to him and telling him how awesomely cool he was. That would be enough to turn anybody's head around a few times.

TheBoneyKingofNowhere
11-10-2005, 09:18 AM
Of course I grew out of Nirvana in high school, but I found that it was a necessary part of my musical listening progression onto better things. I just can't see those "talentless hack" comments. :rolleyes:

He was just a kid, fer chrissake. 27 at death, right? All that fame comes in the early 20's, he was aware of their sound and wanted to improve/change it. Of course, he never got that chance (obviously). I'd probably kill myself too if I was married to the actual ass-clown, Courtney Love.

Anyone that can come up with lyrics like "I've been drawn into your magnet tar pit trap" are ok in my book. And if you can't at least laugh along with the In Bloom video, well, then that's too bad for you, I say.

pravnik
11-10-2005, 09:33 AM
Any band that can get airtime with lyrics like "I'm a negative creep and I'm stoned" is okay in my book.

eviladam, part 2
11-10-2005, 09:33 AM
for the record, Kurt didn't kill himself. Courtney murdered him.

in addition to many other sources, i heard this from a band that was friends with Kurt (he mentions them in his journal) and toured with Courtney.

Clothahump
11-10-2005, 09:36 AM
Inspired by the Paul Anka thread it occured to me that among my group of peers I seem to be the only one that has no love for Kurt Cobain or Nirvana. I don't really mind the music but I don't get why people idolize this guy. As far as I can tell he didn't do anything really groundbreaking except for a few hit songs that have outlived their shelf life.

Kurt and Nirvana was good for the time and place they made it in but now it just seems kind of sycophantic to worship this drug-addled, depressed whiney guy that really wasn't that great of a musician.

Anyone else feel this way?

Yep. He was one of way too many examples of the adage that you do not need talent in any way to be successful in music.

The closest thing to art that he did was eat a shotgun.

MrDibble
11-10-2005, 10:13 AM
Aah, Kurt, the Jim Morrison of his generation...








...this is not a good thing.

What Exit?
11-10-2005, 10:20 AM
Aah, Kurt, the Jim Morrison of his generation...








...this is not a good thing.

Fair comparison, but I liked the Doors a lot. Jim was seemingly more talented as both a singer and poet, but still a good comparison.
So far the Doors have held up fairly well. So maybe Nirvana will follow the same slow fade.

Jim

kelly5078
11-10-2005, 10:28 AM
I don't much care for most of his music. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Heart Shaped Box" are the only songs of his I like, but I like them quite a bit. As for the rest of Nirvana's output, meh.

I don't see why everybody's so bothered about him being whiny, though. Whininess, bitchiness, and general self-destructiveness are not exactly uncommon in rock, or show biz in general. Janis Joplin, anybody? David Crosby?

cbawlmer
11-10-2005, 10:49 AM
I was never a big fan of Nirvana either (I was about 15 when they got popular), but I have a copy of Nevermind and it's decent. It never rocked my world or anything but some of the tunes are catchy and it makes pretty good housecleaning music. I absolutely don't understand the Cult of Cobain. For my listening enjoyment, I actually prefer Hole if I have to choose between them, though Courtney Love is an undeniable fruitcake and a terrible mother.

I think Nirvana was holding Dave Grohl back though, because the Foo Fighters are awesome! Amazing what having talent AND a sense of humor can do for you.

My husband HATES Nirvana, and refers to Cobain as Kurt Ka-bang.

msmith537
11-10-2005, 11:00 AM
I'm not one to really have any feelings towards a musican one way or the other. Dave Grohl is pretty funny though and I can't imagine how he put up with Cobain's mopey bullshit.

I like grunge in small doses but I just can take a steady diet of melancholy unhappy people music.





for the record, Kurt didn't kill himself. Courtney murdered him.

in addition to many other sources, i heard this from a band that was friends with Kurt (he mentions them in his journal) and toured with Courtney.


oh well thanks for the CSI update Gary Sinise. :rolleyes:

Hampshire
11-10-2005, 11:26 AM
I think if he was still alive they would have faded away already just like Pearl Jam, Sound Garden, and others of the same time period.
His idolization was mostly created by his early demise.
I could see the same thing happening if it was Eddie Vedder who had offed himself and Cobain was still around. Cobain would be making crappy music and Vedder would be considered the "missed genius voice of our generation".

While tragic, an early demise only cements a celebritys image for eternity. Who really wanted to see a 60 year old James Dean or an 80 year old Marilyn Monroe.

RetroVertigo
11-10-2005, 11:43 AM
I never really got into Nirvana (except their song Serve the Servants), and it always seemed to me that they were never popular until after he died.
I remember at school the day after he died all the kids who would wear Guess jeans, had RIP Kurt written on their shirts. That always made me kinda laugh.

MrDibble
11-10-2005, 11:53 AM
Fair comparison, but I liked the Doors a lot. Jim was seemingly more talented as both a singer and poet, but still a good comparison.


We'll have to agree to disagree on the bolded bit, but he's certainly a better singer than Kurt.

Missy2U
11-10-2005, 11:58 AM
Case Sensitive put it just about how I would have said it.

Hampshire - Eddy Vedder? We should BE so lucky...talk about a twofer! :D I know - that was mean. I'm sorry, but I can't stand EITHER of them.

eviladam, Yeah, right. :rolleyes:

pulykamell
11-10-2005, 12:14 PM
While Nirvana and its music has lost some of its charm since the 90s, to call Kurt Cobain a talentless hack is just plain...puzzling, in this sometimes musician's opinion. I still think of the so-called grunge bands, they were the best. I prefer their music to the more technically interesting Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam.

Now Kurt, as a person and lyricist, did not speak personally to me. At the time of his popularity, I was a very happy-go-lucky fellow, with musical tastes rooted in 70s classic rock like Led Zeppelin and the Who. I certainly wasn't a punk or an indie kid. But when I first heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit..." it impelled a seismic shift in my musical tastes. And that song seemed to spawn a global, or at least national, phenomenon that truly changed the direction of popular rock music.

Peronsally, I don't really understand the gripes against Kurt's voice. I find his voice quite musical and soulful, carrying raw emotion and energy effectively and well. I don't even have technical problems with it. It's a powerful voice and I'd rather listen to him than Eddie Vedder any day (although I don't mind Pearl Jam.)

From a pop music perpective, Kurt was a very good songwriter. He knew the essence of a hook, a melody, and three or four chords. His tunes are memorable and translate well to other genres--it truly is universal music in many ways. (Just look at all the ways Smells Like Teen Spirit has been covered: by Paul Anka [swing], by Tori Amos [ethereal arty piano pop], by The Bad Plus [frenetic modern jazz], The Moog Cookbook [tongue-in-cheek cerebral electronic quasi-kitsch], etc.)
His music doesn't just inspire rockers--it inspires pop artists of all sorts.

It's a pity we didn't get a chance to hear more. He was only beginning to blossom as an artist, and although I don't really want to get suckered into the cult of personality that surrounds an artist like Cobain (and the requisite backlash, as evidenced by much of this thread), there is not one iota of doubt in me that he was only beginning to make his best records. As great as Nevermind was, In Utero was better and his Unplugged sessions showed the world his flexibility and ability to perform without a great wall of noise behind him.

Somebody as iconic as Kurt will of course attract his detractors. All I can say is they are wrong.

Hey, It's That Guy!
11-10-2005, 02:01 PM
Somebody as iconic as Kurt will of course attract his detractors. All I can say is they are wrong.

Hey, say whatever you want. I think he sucks, and you ain't gonna change my mind.

Scissorjack
11-10-2005, 02:09 PM
Um. Yes. I thought that was the point of rock and roll :) .

Whatever happened to rock being fun?

cbawlmer
11-10-2005, 02:15 PM
Whatever happened to rock being fun?

I know! I don't mind angsty stuff too. What I really want is Rock for Any Mood. Sometimes I want Nick Cave, sometimes Queen, sometimes Herman's Hermits. And plenty of stuff in between.

Ass For A Hat
11-10-2005, 02:16 PM
Whatever happened to rock being fun?
The Velvet Underground.

pulykamell
11-10-2005, 02:28 PM
Hey, say whatever you want. I think he sucks, and you ain't gonna change my mind.

*shrug* Don't take it personally, BBVL. I'm not here to change anybody's mind.

Hey, It's That Guy!
11-10-2005, 02:39 PM
*shrug* Don't take it personally, BBVL. I'm not here to change anybody's mind.

I always respect your opinion and especially enjoy reading your posts in music-related threads. You are very knowledgable and you have excellent taste. But I always take it personally when someone says I'm wrong based on a matter of opinion or personal taste.

pulykamell
11-10-2005, 02:57 PM
I always respect your opinion and especially enjoy reading your posts in music-related threads. You are very knowledgable and you have excellent taste. But I always take it personally when someone says I'm wrong based on a matter of opinion or personal taste.

Well, I was being a bit confrontational. It's just that "I think they're wrong," doesn't have the zing of the simple and curt, "they're wrong." It's all opinion, of course.

I'm not particularly defensive of Nirvana and Kurt, usually. They've never been my idols, but they've written some damned good music, and were certainly my liason into the world of alternative and indie rock. So for that, especially, I give them most praise. But I would definitely agree that they are somewhat over-rated.

However, when phrases like "talentless hack" or whatever inevitably come up in these threads I've got to wonder by what standards people are judging this. Because, at least to me, it seems pretty obvious the guy had an ear for good tunes. And hundred of millions of people across countries and languages found something in his music that resonated with them. I hardly find that talentless.

Hampshire
11-10-2005, 03:06 PM
And that song seemed to spawn a global, or at least national, phenomenon that truly changed the direction of popular rock music.


Or that is what MTV hyped it as. Always calling the latest thing the next big thing.
Grunge is a phenomenon, Rap is a phenomenon, Hip Hop is a phenomenon, Diddy Puff Puff invented the remix, Kelly Clarkson and American Idol are the next phenomenon.
Hey, if your buyin what there sellin, more power to them.

marymargaret
11-10-2005, 04:11 PM
I loved him, but you have to remember what crappy music was out there at the time. (Not all music, but a lot of it was pretty bad. He sort of blew the doors off for a new generation)

Syntropy
11-10-2005, 04:37 PM
Hey hey hey, let's not be rash here. I'll be damned if I stand by helplessly while someone bashes Depeche Mode ;)
Sorry. I only ever liked two of their songs, Personal Jesus and Enjoy the Silence. Otherwise they seemed kinda like a Smiths knockoff with suicidal overtones. But that's just me.

marymargaret, FTR, he was my age, and he did not "blow the doors off a new generation." Grunge was not new; Neil Young had been around for a long, long time. There was also plenty of good music around in the late 80's early 90's, but as musical tastes are subjective, what's considered "good" varies from person to person. He really wasn't all that talented. As someone said earlier, he was in the right place (Seattle) at the right time (when the Seattle music scene exploded) and happened to get his stuff played a lot. Someone else mentioned Soundgarden, which was easily as good a band as Nirvana. And I would put forth that U2 at that time was edgy and actually original. I always get Nirvana and Pearl Jam mixed up. Whiny and self involved and calling itself art.

pulykamell
11-10-2005, 05:04 PM
Or that is what MTV hyped it as. Always calling the latest thing the next big thing.
Grunge is a phenomenon, Rap is a phenomenon, Hip Hop is a phenomenon, Diddy Puff Puff invented the remix, Kelly Clarkson and American Idol are the next phenomenon.
Hey, if your buyin what there sellin, more power to them.

I've been meaning to respond to this, but I don't know exactly what you're trying to say here. Are you using phenomenon as a synonym for fad? Or are you saying that music is all advertising and market-driven? I mean, yeah, of course there's elements of that, but there are agressively marketed acts that are actually quite good. Like, Prince, for instance. Hell, Michael Jackson. Guns 'n' Roses. Nirvana. Etc., etc., etc. So what are you saying?

pulykamell
11-10-2005, 05:13 PM
And I would put forth that U2 at that time was edgy and actually original. I always get Nirvana and Pearl Jam mixed up. Whiny and self involved and calling itself art.

You won't get an argument from me about U2, what with Achtung Baby being the dog's bollocks at the time. Great album, playful, inventive, danceable. Good music.
But I'm not sure how you get Nirvana and Pearl Jam mixed up--they don't sound remotely alike to me.

Plus--and I could be very wrong about this, as I don't know Kurt Cobain's biography--I don't think he touted his music as "high art" at all. I get the sense that he was a musician, wrote great pop songs, banged his heart out on his instrument, and just put it out there. I honestly don't get the feeling that Kurt thought of himself as the next John Lennon or anything, although I would appreciate the input of anybody who is more knowledgable about these things. The only things I can go on is anecdotes from people in the Seattle music scene at the time (friends from The Fastbacks and Flop) who seem to agree that Kurt was just a typical Seattle guy with a band, doing his thing, and not expecting any sort of greatness.

Syntropy
11-10-2005, 05:21 PM
I get them mixed up because, to me, their lead singers have the same monotone whine. I will concede Eddie Vedder is a much better songwriter. My opinion about Cobain was not a statement on him, personally, but more the way "suffering, tortured artist" came through in his music. Which is also why I likened their stuff to Depeche Mode.

I'm sure he was an ordinary average guy, although my opinion of parents of very small children who off themselves isn't especially high; celebrity or no.

Loopydude
11-10-2005, 05:22 PM
I'll put my $0.02 behind the other folks who characterize Cobain, and his legacy, as victims of his success and unwarranted adulation. The was not the greatest anything, as he told anyone who would listen himself. "Grunge" was a marketing label, nothing more, and a damn unfortunate one at that. Sure, there was a sorta-kinda characteristic Seattle Sound, but it's not like the same anti-hair-metal-and-Madonna thing wasn't happening earlier in places like Boston (e.g. Pixies, Dinosaur Jr.) and Minneapolis (e.g. Hüsker Dü, Replacements), and the Seattle sound was a natural outgrowth of that 80's post-punk movement. It's just that no big label execs fucking noticed. So along comes Nirvana, throw in a little Butch Vig, and some very heavy marketing, and suddenly these three starving punks are now the Horsemen of the Heavy Metal Apocalypse with Cobain the "voice of GenX".

It's certainly tough not to hate anyone who aspired to such a thing, but Cobain never did, and clearly was driven more than half-crazy trying to deal with being trumped-up and whored out in such a fashion.

JKellyMap
11-10-2005, 05:27 PM
From a pop music perpective, Kurt was a very good songwriter. He knew the essence of a hook, a melody, and three or four chords. His tunes are memorable and translate well to other genres--it truly is universal music in many ways. (Just look at all the ways Smells Like Teen Spirit has been covered: by Paul Anka [swing], by Tori Amos [ethereal arty piano pop], by The Bad Plus [frenetic modern jazz], The Moog Cookbook [tongue-in-cheek cerebral electronic quasi-kitsch], etc.)
His music doesn't just inspire rockers--it inspires pop artists of all sorts.


Finally, someone who wants to mention music ! I am no big Nirvana fan, but pulykamell got it right. Cobain was sometimes very good at writing original and memorable melodies . "Come As You Are" is a good example. It's no surprise that he loved the early Beatles.

pulykamell
11-10-2005, 05:43 PM
IMy opinion about Cobain was not a statement on him, personally, but more the way "suffering, tortured artist" came through in his music. Which is also why I likened their stuff to Depeche Mode.

And that's fair. And he effectively communicated suffering, anger, and frustration through his music. What's wrong with that? Rock has a long history of expressing these emotions. Look at bands like Black Sabbath, the Sex Pistols, the Smiths, etc.
Pop music need not always be shiny and happy.

And Depeche Mode, while known for there moody, electronic (though always danceable!) songs, don't forget their pop gem "Just Can't Get Enough" from their debut, Speak & Spell. They weren't always a depressing Euro band. (Although I do love them for it.)

Syntropy
11-10-2005, 05:48 PM
Oh, there's nothing wrong with it, at all. As I said, music and what's "good" is subjective. Suffering angst isn't my cup of tea. I love The Smiths. This Charming Man is one of my favorites. But coffeehouse/gothy/grunge just isn't me.

pulykamell
11-10-2005, 05:58 PM
Oh, there's nothing wrong with it, at all. As I said, music and what's "good" is subjective. Suffering angst isn't my cup of tea. I love The Smiths. This Charming Man is one of my favorites. But coffeehouse/gothy/grunge just isn't me.

OK. I guess I'm just trying to figure it out. It seems a bit ironic that somebody who loves The Smiths would complain about perceived self-indulgency and angst. I mean, come on, Morrissey (god bless him) is the very definition of art angst primadonna-ism. Just an observation.

Syntropy
11-10-2005, 06:08 PM
Ah. There is where the whole voice thing comes in. Morrissey's got a beautiful voice. Cobain sounds like my son when he needs a nap.

Snooooopy
11-10-2005, 06:40 PM
Finally, someone who wants to mention music ! I am no big Nirvana fan, but pulykamell got it right. Cobain was sometimes very good at writing original and memorable melodies . "Come As You Are" is a good example. It's no surprise that he loved the early Beatles.

"Come As You Are" was an unfortunate choice for arguing the band's originality. The band Killing Joke made a stink about the song supposedly cribbing from their own hit, "Eighties."

interface2x
11-10-2005, 09:15 PM
"Come As You Are" was an unfortunate choice for arguing the band's originality. The band Killing Joke made a stink about the song supposedly cribbing from their own hit, "Eighties."

I agree - I'd say a better choice for that is "About a Girl". Very catchy.

F. U. Shakespeare
11-10-2005, 10:39 PM
I offer no argument to anyone who doesn't like Cobain. Music is at some level about liking what you hear. If you like it, it's good music. If not, no sweat.

That said, another relevant metric is how Cobain's music influenced other musicians. IMO, Cobain was a genius, in the sense of seeing things others didn't. He combined catchy pop melodies with the thunderous dynamics of hard rock and heavy metal, along with the stripped-down starkness of punk. (I remember the first time I heard Nirvana, I thought it was what people like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath had been aiming for). The fact that so many musicians of differing styles have covered his material (IIRC, Herbie Hancock did "All Apologies") attests to this.

His singing voice (again, IMO) suited his music very well. (I also think his version of Leadbelly's "Where Did You Sleep Last Night", especially the blood-curdling heroin voice of the last verse, put the original to shame). But if you compare him with truly great singers like Sinatra, Presley, Fitzgerald -- people who could make any song their own -- he'll come up way short.

As far as his opinion of himself, he seemed to bounce from highs to lows. I specifically recall his dismissal of his work as "mostly warmed-over John Lennon" -- that seemed to offer a very accurate insight, filitered through the lens of depression.

The fact that he was a very eff'ed up human being (as have been many geniuses) doesn't really matter to me. If Thomas Edison had been a depressed, self-destructive drug addict, would that change the fact that he invented all that stuff?

Hey, It's That Guy!
11-10-2005, 11:19 PM
To be fair, I did enjoy Nirvana's covers of Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World" and Leadbelly's "Where Did You Sleep Last Night." Even though I still remain unconvinced of Cobain's genius as a singer/songwriter, the instrumentation and his voice on those songs by other musicians fit them perfectly.

Gatopescado
11-10-2005, 11:27 PM
Dave was the talent in that band.

n0disguise
11-11-2005, 04:36 AM
... Complete horseshit of course, they were as big as they were because they were the best and people liked them for being the best...

Is this a joke?
I guess the Spice Girls were the best too then.

One thing I have to get off my chest before I continue: Nirvana was never even close to being on the same level as Pearl Jam. Let's keep our usage of both of these band names in the same sentence restricted to ones like, "Pearl Jam was infinitely better than Nirvana could ever dream of being," or, "Eddie Vedder was 10 times the lyricist and singer that Cobain was, and Pearl Jam as a whole was 10 times better at playing their instruments, and more importantly writing music, than Nirvana was."

Now for a little experiment. let's make a list of all of the qualities that make a good band and see which of them Nirvana posessed:

good songwriting -- maybe if you expand your definition of "good" to include "somewhat catchy," and even then, they're spotty as hell.
good lyrics -- eh, they mostly suck, but then again so do most other rock band lyrics
good vocals -- check (not a great singer, but he had a great, distinctive voice which did suit their style of music, IMO)
good guitar playing -- nope, not even close (and I say this as a guitarist who can respect guitarists for "feel," or "soul," and value those qualities more than technical playing ability, which as it happens, is non-existent in Cobain.)
good drumming -- average (David Grohl is waaaay overrated as a drummer. I play drums, too.)
good bass -- average
drug addiction -- check
suicide -- check
good, solid discography -- nope, very inconsistent, and their best album was composed mostly of songs they didn't write.
ability to actually play their music live -- marginal
put on a good show -- probably, but I never saw them.

Draw your own conclusions, but here's mine: I think the band was okay, Cobain wasn't anything exceptional, and if not for the suicide deal, I don't think many people would listen to them, and even if they did, it wouldn't be because the music was good. People listen to all sorts of terrible music because it has a sound (or an image) that appeals to them for whatever reason.

Busy Scissors
11-11-2005, 05:57 AM
Is this a joke?
I guess the Spice Girls were the best too then..You guess right son. The Spice Girls are one of the most influential and important girl groups in the history of UK pop music, maybe pop music anywhere. This is so demonstrably obvious that it hardly needs stating, does it?

Pearl Jam versus Nirvana!!!! The passion, the drama, the personalities. Its all coming back to me. Pearl Jam are good for bringing out your feminine side, I have to admit, although I'd pick Eddie over Kurt in an armwrestle.

party store
11-11-2005, 06:11 AM
I'm not going to argue in favor of Cobain, because if pulykamell hasn't convinced you, there's nothing I can say that will.

But I will say, anyone who thinks Dave Grohl was more talented is crazy. Grohl's a good drummer who has written some really nice pop songs, but he is nowhere near the talent Cobain was. And Grohl's nice pop songs very quickly became bland A.O.R. radio bullshit. If a Foo Fighters' track comes on the raido now it's a race to see how quickly I can change the station.

And I've also got to take issue with people who are trying to say Nirvana was only the product of hype and marketing. If this is what you believe, you're being a pompous fool. Are you really trying to say that you're somehow special enough that all the music you like comes from a real, true connection you have with it, but people who don't share your taste are only dupes who've been tricked by a slick marketing campaign? :rolleyes: Stop the idiocy - people who like music you hate actually genuinely like it.

TheBoneyKingofNowhere
11-11-2005, 09:08 AM
Plus--and I could be very wrong about this, as I don't know Kurt Cobain's biography--I don't think he touted his music as "high art" at all. I get the sense that he was a musician, wrote great pop songs, banged his heart out on his instrument, and just put it out there. I honestly don't get the feeling that Kurt thought of himself as the next John Lennon or anything, although I would appreciate the input of anybody who is more knowledgable about these things. The only things I can go on is anecdotes from people in the Seattle music scene at the time (friends from The Fastbacks and Flop) who seem to agree that Kurt was just a typical Seattle guy with a band, doing his thing, and not expecting any sort of greatness.
I think this is important -- and true (what I bolded especially). To me, there is a big difference between the "I'm the next John Lennon (ala Liam Gallagher)" and the Cobain-style angst-ridden pop "star" who became a star for the "right" reasons. He wrote pop songs, played them loudly, got signed to a record company and screamed out his tunes to whoever would listen and/or buy. I never got the impression he was out to change society etc, that's why you have to at least appreciate the impact of what they did and who they might have influenced. One of my favorite bands, Radiohead, is said to be influenced by Cobain (among many, many, others), and I'm glad they were, because I think they turned out ok.

phungi
11-11-2005, 11:57 AM
I recall longing for a new source of music in 1990 or so, having grown up listening to Genesis, XTC, The Smiths, King Crimson, etc... around that time, newer pop bands like Too Much Joy or The Judybats began to emerge, but Nirvana hit a nerve with Smells Lik Teen Spirit... it was a different sound and represented a new genre that would bring us The Screeming Trees, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, etc.

Arguing whether or not Kurt was talented or "a good ____" is silly, as this is a matter of timing and taste, but to say he was the front man for band that experienced considerable success is inarguable (as long as you measure success by sales and revenue).

I saw Nirvana a few months before Kurt killed himself and it was one of the loudest but tightest shows I had seen (Philadelphia at the Drexel Armory). However, he was vacant and detatched and the music really said very little. When I hear Nirviana songs now onthe radio, I kinda feel that detatchment and emptiness and have little interest. However, I think their Unplugged Album is excellent and still throw it into a 6-disc rotation when picking music for a gathering. I like his voice and was thankful that they brought something new to the table, while recognizing that many people just didn't like it (go figure, I don't like Garth Brooks or Celine Dion?).

As for this comment:

I think if he was still alive they would have faded away already just like Pearl Jam, Sound Garden, and others of the same time period.
His idolization was mostly created by his early demise.
I could see the same thing happening if it was Eddie Vedder who had offed himself and Cobain was still around. Cobain would be making crappy music and Vedder would be considered the "missed genius voice of our generation".

Last tiem I checked, Pearl Jam was touring America and Canada to sold-out shows without a new album to support. After 10 albums and having a touring catalogue and reputation for live shows which were once reserved only for bands like The Grateful Dead, it is hard to see how they are characterized as having faded away...

Syntropy
11-11-2005, 12:18 PM
Doc Sarvis, I gotta say, I'm impressed. It takes most people a while to find hornets nests to kick open on this board, and here you're still a guest. :p

This argument has been kicking around since Nirvana hit it big and almost as many people have been scratching their heads wondering why as there have been people listening and enjoying the band.

I am inclined to believe that it is at least partly fashionable, although the people who comprise this band's following scoff at anything as commercial as "fashionable." The fact is, angst sells among a certain demographic. It may not have been Kurt's intent to do anything more than play his music and scream his pain, which he was always quick to state. I think that may be what makes up the whole Nirvana mystique (gah, I hate that word).

Kurt eschewed what was popular and embraced what he wanted his music to be. A large number of people admired that and at the same time, liked his music enough to buy a boat load of records. Which made it popular. Popular music. Pop. Which all Nirvana fans will go out of their way to argue to their deaths it was not. Except it was. Which drives them nuts. :p Personally, I don't like the music. I've listened to it, I've given it several tries, it just doesn't reach me. But to say that it was vanguard or original is just silly. It wasn't.

JKellyMap
11-11-2005, 12:30 PM
"Come As You Are" was an unfortunate choice for arguing the band's originality. The band Killing Joke made a stink about the song supposedly cribbing from their own hit, "Eighties."

Thanks for the heads up, Snoop. I will check out the Killing Joke tune posthaste.

JKellyMap
11-11-2005, 12:43 PM
Thanks for the heads up, Snoop. I will check out the Killing Joke tune posthaste.

I checked it out. It has the same riff as in "Come As You Are", but the sung melodies are different, and it is those that I like so much in the Nirvana song. IMHO.

pulykamell
11-11-2005, 12:46 PM
[QUOTE=Maureen A large number of people admired that and at the same time, liked his music enough to buy a boat load of records. Which made it popular. Popular music. Pop. Which all Nirvana fans will go out of their way to argue to their deaths it was not. [/QUOTE]

I suppose it depends on the Nirvana fan. Kurt Cobain was clearly a pop songwriter. As I've been defending Nirvana for this whole thread, I've also been emphasizing the point that Kurt's greatest talent was in his pop music writing.

Of course it wasn't vanguard and original--it's hard to be these days. I wouldn't even lay the claim that U2's Achtung Baby was truly original, either. Everybody cribs off everybody else. But, to me, only one band sounds like Nirvana, and that's Nirvana. Only one band sounds like U2, and that's U2 (no Coldplay jokes here.) I do think that Nirvana had a signature sound and certain songwriting quirks that were, in fact, unique. They obviously borrowed from bands like Black Sabbath, The Melvins, The Pixies, etc., but ... Kurt Cobain's own self-depricating comments aside (I believe he once said he's stolen everything he knows from the Pixies, or something to that extent) ... I sincerely believe they did create something new and fresh. They don't sound like the Pixies or the Melvins or Sabbath or Cheap Trick or any of their influences.

For me, they were always distinct from the rest of the grunge crowd. The had a very different sound and vibe. If you asked me today who Nirvana sounded like, I really couldn't tell you. They just sound like Nirvana.

Guinastasia
11-11-2005, 01:52 PM
I think what I will always like about Nirvana is that they came along at a time that music was really starting to suck. Hairbands were big (Firehouse beat Nirvana at the Grammys for "Best New Artist", IIRC), you had the New Kids type bands, the crappy pop singers. And then Seattle grunge came on the scene, and yeah, it was over-hyped, and whiny and pretentious at times.

But still, even if the lyrics suck, the songs sounded a hell of a lot better than the other stuff out there, and I still like most of their songs, if only just because it was the music of my teen years.

Ludovic
11-11-2005, 02:09 PM
Is this a joke?
I guess the Spice Girls were the best too then.

One thing I have to get off my chest before I continue: Nirvana was never even close to being on the same level as Pearl Jam. Let's keep our usage of both of these band names in the same sentence restricted to ones like, "Pearl Jam was infinitely better than Nirvana could ever dream of being," or, "Eddie Vedder was 10 times the lyricist and singer that Cobain was, and Pearl Jam as a whole was 10 times better at playing their instruments, and more importantly writing music, than Nirvana was."

Is THIS a joke? Pearl Jam only had 3 songs out of all the dozens that I have heard that are tolerable to me, and even those don't really do anything differently than all the other music around at the time, just a bit better. Nirvana was not only better but also unique. Pearl Jam has no melodies, no character, and seldom good lyrics. While not as polished as Pearl Jam, Nirvana didn't have to be, that's park of the point of their "punk" influence.

Sometimes you can get your point across better with dissonance. I blame Pearl Jam for the rise of pseudo-punk bands that are too afraid to scream, play sloppily, and show their feelings in their music.

Guinastasia
11-11-2005, 02:16 PM
I think this is important -- and true (what I bolded especially). To me, there is a big difference between the "I'm the next John Lennon (ala Liam Gallagher)" and the Cobain-style angst-ridden pop "star" who became a star for the "right" reasons. He wrote pop songs, played them loudly, got signed to a record company and screamed out his tunes to whoever would listen and/or buy. I never got the impression he was out to change society etc, that's why you have to at least appreciate the impact of what they did and who they might have influenced. One of my favorite bands, Radiohead, is said to be influenced by Cobain (among many, many, others), and I'm glad they were, because I think they turned out ok.


Thank you for bringing up Oasis. I think they were far worse than Nivana, and Liam's crap about how they were the next Beatles made me want to kick him in the nads. Hard. With steel-toed boots.

n0disguise
11-11-2005, 04:15 PM
Is THIS a joke? Pearl Jam only had 3 songs out of all the dozens that I have heard that are tolerable to me, and even those don't really do anything differently than all the other music around at the time, just a bit better. Nirvana was not only better but also unique. Pearl Jam has no melodies, no character, and seldom good lyrics. While not as polished as Pearl Jam, Nirvana didn't have to be, that's park of the point of their "punk" influence.

I demand satisfaction!

Tolerable to you is not the end-all criteria for good music.

I really think you should check out an album or two. Maybe I'm just wayyyyyyy out of my mind here, but I don't think that Nirvana could EVER write any songs even close to as well written, varried, and as full of feeling as Jeremy, Oceans, Porch, Elderly Woman Behind a Counter in a Small Town, W.M.A., Tremmor Christ, Once, Daughter, and Nothingman, off the top of my head. Pearl Jam's first album alone has more good songs (and they're actually all GREAT) than Nirvana wrote in their entire career. I just don't even see how anyone can compare the two. Pearl Jam is clearly better in every objective way, and if you like Nirvana more, that's fine, but say "I like Nirvana more than I like Pearl Jam," not, "Nirvana is better than Pearl Jam."

Sometimes you can get your point across better with dissonance. I blame Pearl Jam for the rise of pseudo-punk bands that are too afraid to scream, play sloppily, and show their feelings in their music.
No wonder you like Nirvana. If you think sloppy playing with emotional screaming is the ideal music form, I can't help you. If you listen to punk primarily (which it sounds like you do), I can see why you'd think Nirvana was good, but consider why. It sure as hell wasn't because they were a good band.

ouryL
11-11-2005, 04:38 PM
I never cared much for Nirvana or Kurt until I happened to watch MTV Unplugged. :(

Ludovic
11-11-2005, 05:21 PM
I demand satisfaction!

Tolerable to you is not the end-all criteria for good music.

I really think you should check out an album or two. Maybe I'm just wayyyyyyy out of my mind here, but I don't think that Nirvana could EVER write any songs even close to as well written, varried, and as full of feeling as Jeremy, Oceans, Porch, Elderly Woman Behind a Counter in a Small Town, W.M.A., Tremmor Christ, Once, Daughter, and Nothingman, off the top of my head.That's funny, I've heard most of those, and most of them make me reach for the dial. I do like Black and Cross-Eyed Mary, though.Pearl Jam is clearly better in every objective way, and if you like Nirvana more, that's fine, but say "I like Nirvana more than I like Pearl Jam," not, "Nirvana is better than Pearl Jam."Objective way?
Emotional power? Nirvana has it hands down.
Lyrics? Nirvana wins in a photo finish. But country has good lyrics and I hate country: just good lyrics won't make me buy an album.
Musical ability: This is a tie. Pearl jam plays better, but Nirvana's music is better written.
Then there's the less objective measures. I dislike Pearl Jam's general sound and delivery method, and I also dislike the even-worse followers they created, whose effects are still being felt today. I personally could have gone without ever hearing a Creed or Puddle of Mudd song. If that's your thing, by all means praise them.

There are bands that are lame, musically, but I like a little anyway, for instance, the Sex Pistols and the Ramones. And Nirvana might not even be in my top 20 artist list for the 90's, but to say that they are so much worse than Pearl Jam as to be stunningly obvious is mind-boggling.

No wonder you like Nirvana. If you think sloppy playing with emotional screaming is the ideal music form, I can't help you. If you listen to punk primarily (which it sounds like you do), I can see why you'd think Nirvana was good, but consider why. It sure as hell wasn't because they were a good band.
I never said emotional dissonance was the ideal music form, but I do like that sort of music. I also like music that shows intelligence and/or musical sublimnity, such as Pink Floyd and Steely Dan. Pearl Jam is neither. It's wishy-washy. I despise wishy-washy.

I know music is very subjective, but at least I've narrowed down my appreciation of Nirvana to several key adjectives which I then defended. You basically said "Pearl Jam good. Nirvana Bad."

Ludovic
11-11-2005, 05:24 PM
While I like the Tull song, that should be Crazy Mary :smack:

woodstockbirdybird
11-11-2005, 06:07 PM
That said, another relevant metric is how Cobain's music influenced other musicians. IMO, Cobain was a genius, in the sense of seeing things others didn't. He combined catchy pop melodies with the thunderous dynamics of hard rock and heavy metal, along with the stripped-down starkness of punk. (I remember the first time I heard Nirvana, I thought it was what people like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath had been aiming for). The fact that so many musicians of differing styles have covered his material (IIRC, Herbie Hancock did "All Apologies") attests to this.


Anybody who listened to indie (we called it "underground") rock in the 80s heard about 10,000 bands who "combined the catchy pop melodies with the thunderous dynamics of hard rock and heavy metal" - Husker Du and the Pixies are the most popular examples, but there were scores of others. Maybe it's because I'd already heard it done by these bands that Nirvana didn't make that big an impression on me. But I think the dynamics were also a problem, as was the supposed catchiness - dynamically, their sole trick was to go from subdued verse to rock-out chorus, and apart from "Teen Spirit" and a couple other singles, their catchiness quotient was pretty low - not much competition to the Beatles (or even Husker Du or the Pixies, for that matter). I don't doubt that Cobain was sincere; I also don't doubt that many groups Nirvana fans have never heard of were just as sincere, and catchier, too.

Loopydude
11-11-2005, 06:22 PM
I have to agree that Nirvana's popularity, when juxtaposed with the Pixies relative obscurity (though a couple tunes of theirs sorta charted), is one of the more baffling developments of "alternative" music. I personally never found Nirvana as compelling as any of the bands I got hooked on in the late 80's, but I surely don't think they sucked.

sturmhauke
11-11-2005, 11:40 PM
When a band becomes as world-stridingly popular as Nirvana did, there's going to be people queuing up to tell you how much they suck.
Just because something is popular doesn't mean it's good. Take, for example, Britney Spears, or the Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps", which is one of the worst songs I've ever heard.

I thought "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was a good song and the rest of Nirvana's stuff was OK, but Pearl Jam and especially Soundgarden were much better. I'm not a trained musician, but I could hear the weird keys and time signatures that Soundgarden used and it was really cool.

By the way, Soundgarden didn't fade away, they broke up pretty much at the height of their popularity. Personally, I blame bassist Ben Shepard. When I saw Soundgarden at Lollapalooza in San Jose, he played with his back to the audience for most of the set.

Loopydude
11-12-2005, 12:00 AM
Man, no love for Alice In Chains? If ever there was a tragic slow burnout, it was Layne Staley's drug addiction and ultimate death by heroin & coke overdose at 34, so alone nobody even found out until two weeks after he died.

Instead of an abrupt flameout like Cobain, Staley crawled agonizingly to the grave well after the peak of his fame. Almost nobody ever brings it up, but his body was discovered on the 8th anniversary of Cobain's suicide, and his death is overshadowed by that of his more-lauded Seattle peer.

If Nirvana was good, I thought AIC showed flashes of sheer brilliance, and it's too bad they never really reached what I think must have been their full potential. I often wonder what the music scene today would be like if either Staley, Cobain, or, even more intriguingly, both, had lived.

Subject for another thread, perhaps.

marymargaret
11-12-2005, 10:08 AM
marymargaret, FTR, he was my age, and he did not "blow the doors off a new generation." Grunge was not new; Neil Young had been around for a long, long time.

Neil Young thanked Kurt Cobain for "all of the inspiration" during his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction.

Loach
11-12-2005, 10:53 AM
Punk was a reaction to Progressive Rock. I remember Quotes I disagreed with.
"Rock has become too produced"
"Rock is meant to be simple"
They complained about groups like ELP, Rush, Genesis and especially Yes.
Strangely enough not Pink Floyd.

Yes I nitpick. Though I like each of the bands you mention to a certain degree, one these things doesn't blong here. At the time punk came on the scene Rush was a little know hard rock band. Rush didn't become popular until several years after the punk scene was hailed as the next big thing. Rush didn't go "prog" until several years after that. No way that the punk was a raction to anything they did.


About Nirvana. I think I am about five years too old to have been effected the band that much. One thing I remember clearly. I was sitting at a heavy metal bar outside of Ft Hood TX drinking a beer and listening to music between sets of the band that was playing. The DJ played Smells Like Teen Spirit. I stopped what I was doing and thought, "damn that s a good song." No way did I think it was going to explode like it did. I went out and bought the CD right away. I liked it but it's not like it changed my life. I can't remember when I last listened to it. Like I said I'm about 5 years too old. To me Seatle music peaked with Queensryche.

Loopydude
11-12-2005, 02:33 PM
To be fair, I did enjoy Nirvana's covers of Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World" and Leadbelly's "Where Did You Sleep Last Night."

I liked those two, but the former was really a very straight cover, and didn't do much to expand on the original. The latter was from another planet than the original, and certainly seemed intriguing enough. I understand Ledbelly was impressed, anyway. I read someplace Bowie saying he wished he could ask Cobain "Why that song?". I agree. The choice of MWStW may itself be the most interesting part of the performance. Then again, he could have pulled it out of a hat. Guess we'll never know.

pool
11-20-2005, 09:51 PM
Nirvana was good for their time and place, but they were a lot less talented (with the exception of Dave Grohl) thn the like of Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam. Alice In Chains is really the group from that era I miss the most, a lot of their music was grunge but with other albums like jar of flies, and acoustic songs they showed they were much more. I'm also glad Cornell from Soundgarden (whose music also crossed through several genres) is still performing in a band as he is an incredibly talented singer.

Talon Karrde
11-20-2005, 11:02 PM
When I was 16 (back in 2002), I LOVED Nirvana. I was musically sheltered up until around that age, so SLTS blew me away as much as anyone else. I had all their albums and listened to them a lot. I have to say that I don't that listening to them so much was good for me, as I had a lot of self-hatred issues at the time and they probably were made worse.
I don't like them as much anymore mostly because I prefer stuff that's less heavy nowadays. But I think I'll stop this Jay Farrar cd and listen to them right now.

One thing that I like about Kurt was that he had GREAT taste in music. He was a big fan of bands like Teenage Fanclub, Big Star, The Pixies, The Beatles. pulykamell was correct in calling them a pop band.

I think that Kurt Cobain had severe mental issues and especially during his last few years really wasn't right in the head. I think his situation is similar in that regard to Syd Barret's, except they dealt with it in different ways. I've never heard anybody complaining about Syd being too whiny.

I think at times the lyrics could actually be quite good. And they weren't totally serious all the time, they had some fun songs:
Floyd the Barber (funny in a very very dark way)
About a Girl
Sliver
Aneurysm
Breed
Territorial Pissings
Drain You
On A Plain
Tourette's

And Loopydude, I don't think their cover of TMWSTW is entirely a straight cover. It has less of that quirky Bowiness. David Bowie personally liked their version so much that he said it was their song more than his. I also like their Meat Puppets covers more than the originals.

control-z
11-21-2005, 03:17 PM
Nirvana was a teriffic band. Noisy guitars, screaming, angst, incomprehensible lyrics, tearing up the stage. They were my generation's The Who (get it?)

I can always play Nevermind all the way through, but all their other albums rock too. Unplugged in New York gives me chills every time I hear it. These guys were MUSICIANS. They played their own music and sounded great.

Recently the With the Lights Out box set has introduced me to a bunch of new Kurt/Nirvana gems like "Mrs. Butterworth", and their covers of "They Hung Him on a Cross", and "Ain't it a Shame."

Kurt always seemed like somebody I would have hung out with in high school. Different crowds, different music I guess.

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