20 years ago today

Kurt Cobain (Feb. 20, 1967 - April 5, 1994).
Give me a Leonard Cohen afterworld, so I can sigh eternally
-Kurt Cobain, 'Pennyroyal Tea'.

"I'm sorry I couldn't have spoken to the young man. I see a lot of people at the Zen Centre, who have gone through drugs and found a way out that is not just Sunday school. There are always alternatives, and I might have been able to lay something on him."
-Leonard Cohen (responding to Cobain's death).
I was 14 when Kurt Cobain took his own life. Nirvana was the soundtrack of so many intense teenage emotions and experiences and our obsession with Kurt only grew afterwards.

I didn't become aware of the Leonard Cohen reference in 'Pennyroyal Tea' until years later. The thing is that in those days I was so obsessed with Nirvana that I had posters and song lyrics hanging on my bedroom walls. I even put up a printed copy of Kurt's suicide letter. My mother didn't like that one bit. It was too much. Also, she didn't approve of a lot the loud rock music I listened to. We had our arguments.

One day I found Leonard Cohen's Greatest Hits in her CD collection and took it to my room. I began listening to it. At loud volume. But there was no arguing. When my mother realized that I was digging some of "her" music we struck up a different kind of conversation and enjoyed a mutual appreciation of Leonard Cohen. I remember it as one of the first instances where we agreed upon something musically while acknowledging that we were from different generations and had different outlooks.

The above incidents took place in Aarhus, Denmark, where we were living at the time. Whenever I hear Leonard Cohen's 'Suzanne' I think of Aarhus and our apartment. In my mind there was a scent of tea and oranges in the air.

Today it is 20 years ago since Kurt Cobain took his own life. My girlfriend and I put on the Unplugged in New York DVD earlier today to mark the occasion. The Leonard Cohen line in 'Pennyroal Tea' stood out to me and things came back in my mind. I must say I really like Leonard's heartfelt response to Cobain's suicide. I wonder what it must feel like to be referenced and covered by people and then outliving them.

Let the music play.

No comments:

Post a Comment