SPOTLIGHT: Kurt Cobain

“The sun is gone, but I have a light.”

– Kurt Cobain, Dumb

Not all days are bad days, and sometimes I have nothing in particular I need or want to say. So, I started a little “Spotlight” segment in which I talk about someone of cultural prominence who suffers from bipolar disorder. The idea is to use a “poof”-style piece to shine a light on said chosen person. It’s a personal exercise and challenge, and also helps make this illness just a tad more relatable. This is my second “Spotlight” piece, the first of which was on Vincent Van Gogh.

This one is on Kurt Cobain.

Kurt Cobain was born in February of 1967 in Aberdeen, Washington. As a child he was diagnosed with ADD and developed bipolar disorder later on in life. Never pursuing treatment, though, Cobain struggled with severe depression throughout his entire life, often turning to drugs to self-medicate.

Cobain is best known as the front man and main creative force behind the rock band Nirvana.

Nirvana began playing together in the 1980s but would undergo countless name changes and at least four other drummers before permanently sticking with Dave Grohl in 1990.

Although their debut album, Bleach, was recorded and released in 1989, it was their sophomore effort, Nevermind, that really cemented their place in history. Driven by the hit song “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, as well as a slew of other rock radio staples, the album knocked Michael Jackson off the top of the charts and catapulted the band to near-overnight fame.

This really didn’t sit well with Cobain, though. He never intended or wanted to become as popular as he ultimately became. He was labeled the “Voice of his Generation”, which also did not sit well with him.

As mentioned above, Cobain often turned to drug use as a means to handle the sudden onslaught of fame, along with other various personal issues. Cobain’s drug of choice was heroin, and he became extremely addicted to the powerful substance, even to the point of overdosing around family and friends.

Nirvana went on to release only one other official studio album, In Utero. It was a drastic departure from the material on their previous album, and was the album Cobain was most proud of.

Cobain’s songwriting skills are his most notable and spoken of talents, as he is often lumped into many “best songwriters of all time” lists. He was moody, bright-eyed, and honest in his writing, creating a mass appeal in all he did.

Ultimately, though, between his severe depression, his inability to handle public pressures, and his extreme dependence on heroin, Cobain committed suicide in 1994 at the age of 27. He left behind a wife and daughter.

One thing I must express is that you don’t have to use drugs or suffer from a mental illness to be creative or productive. Suicide isn’t the answer, either, yet I have no room nor am I in any position to even speak on that.

I only add this little tidbit because the subject of the last “Spotlight” piece, Vincent Van Gogh, also committed suicide. There are many amazingly creative and genius people out there who do not follow the same path as either of these two men.

I promise we won’t end this series on a “Van Gogh” or a “Kurt Cobain”, if only just to prove my point. Sometimes it’s best to just stay in the light.

Until next time.

5 thoughts on “SPOTLIGHT: Kurt Cobain

  1. Sometimes ya just gotta write a looong comment. I was a huge Nirvana fan in the 90s, but I’m sorry to say that a lot of their music sort of annoys me a bit now—although this morning I listened to Molly’s Lips by the Vaselines after I was done paying tribute to Meatloaf. I recall you writing about how a high percentage of people with bipolar disorder die by suicide. I wonder now if a disproportionate number of our most talented artists are bipolar. It’s interesting because just a couple of weeks ago, someone in my online Tourette group claimed Cobain as one of ‘ours’ – a person with Tourette. I never heard that before. Do you know if bipolar disorder and Tourette are comorbidities? I used to follow a blogger whose entire blog was dedicated to proving that Cobain was murdered in a conspiracy involving record execs and Courtney Love.

    1. I know Nirvana has a song called “Tourette’s”, but I am not sure on any further connection. But you do raise a good question. As for the theories surrounding Kurt’s death…forgive me, but I don’t know that Courtney could have orchestrated his “murder” and kept up the charade all of these years. Who knows though, right?

      1. The older and more empathetic I get, the less I believe that Courtney was involved, but I still bring it up every time because who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory?

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