Remembering Kurt on “Kurt Cobain Day”

Honoring Kurt Cobain DayKurt Cobain would have been 47 today, and yet every image I know of him he is frozen in time, in the grunge, in the ’90s. Forever 27 years old, we’ll never know if Kurt would have phased out of flannel and cardigans. Today marks a special day in the legacy of Kurt of Cobain as it is the first ever “Kurt Cobain Day” in his hometown of Aberdeen, Washington.

To celebrate Kurt Cobain Day a statue of Kurt will be unveiled at the Aberdeen Museum of History. The cement statue was created by local artist Randi Hubbard 20 years ago and has been occupying her muffler repair shop for years. According to a report on KOMO she offered the statue to the city years ago but it was not accepted. Now that Kurt Cobain Day is a thing, the city was more than happy to include the statue as part of an exhibit in the local museum.

Mayor Bill Simpson says the city is ready. “This has been a long time coming; we should have done it long ago. Paul McCartney said Kurt Cobain was a genius, that said a lot for me. We want him to be known for his music.” The Seattle Times reports that “Warren Mason, Cobain’s guitar teacher, as well as Aaron Burckhard, Nirvana’s first drummer” will be at Aberdeen’s Kurt Cobain Day event.

MTV’s Brenna Ehrlich mused in “How Kurt Cobain’s Bed Head Became a Fashion Craze” that Kurt would have been “surprised to see his effect on music at large — but perhaps a bit more surprised by his impact on the fashion scene.” It is pretty ironic that a guy who seemed to care so little about how he looked could spark a fashion movement.

In the soon-to-be-released book Here We Are Now: The Lasting Impact of Kurt Cobain by Charles R. Cross, there are many details about the major fashion and style moments that began thanks to a completely unaware Kurt Cobain.

“Kurt Cobain came to his personal style out of necessity and fell into a fashion-icon role almost entirely by accident. His tousled hairstyle, for example, was due partially to the fact he couldn’t afford shampoo, and therefore washed his hair with body soap. In 2003, a hairstyling product line called Bed Head was launched that sought to create, with a twenty-five-dollar shampoo and accompanying products, the same look Kurt achieved with a twenty-nine-cent bar of soap. Kurt essentially rolled out of bed and, moments later, was a style icon.”

The official proclamation for Kurt Cobain Day reads:

“Whereas, while Kurt’s lyrics and album liner notes served as an outlet for his personal anger and frustration, we should recognize that he used his fame to advocate for the rights of women, gays and other minorities and ‘teen misfits’ like himself.”

Kurt died my senior year of high school. It happened while I was on Spring Break and it became a line we crossed — a before and after. Just before Kurt we lost River and we were not even 18 and trying to make sense of it all. On the return drive from what can only be described as a very typical and very grunge-infused Spring Break, my friends and I heard on the radio that Kurt had shot himself.

Shortly after hearing the news we were pulled over for driving in the left lane. Apparently in the state of Tennessee, the left lane is for passing only, not for screaming at the radio driving. My friends and I were all in tears as the officer approached the window and to his credit, he did not take on a bad cop persona. We were four pathetic teenaged girls sobbing just a few miles outside of Memphis. He asked what was going on and braced himself against the side of the dusty VW Jetta. My friend wailed, “KURT COBAIN KILLED HIMSELF!”

Last spring I wrote about that day and I remembered the look on the officer’s face. All at once it registered anger, sorrow, shock. He told us to take a moment to calm down and then to get safely home.

The way Kurt looked and his music shaped a lot of us. I think you can define an entire generational moment based on where you were when Cobain died. If you were in high school or college (plus or minus a year — so roughly a 10-year span) at the time of his death, then you are in this phantom, undefined generation. The flannel generation.

Happy Kurt Cobain Day to all who can trace steps in their life back to listening to the Nevermind album.

“Come As Your Are” – for Kurt Cobain Day

Image Credit: Webstagram

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