I'm so glad I'm not dead (Saturday afternoon jam, April 5 edition)

Today marks the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death. It seems as though anyone who ever cared about Nirvana has already written about what that meant--for the era, for the music, for anything and everything.

I was a Nirvana fan, too. Still am. But today I'd rather remember the way his music made me feel, as recounted through the prism of a Juliana Hatfield song.

In 1992 I bought Juliana Hatfield's solo EP Forever Baby on cassette. I listened to that damn thing in the car over and over and over. I remember driving around Midtown in my 1981 green Honda Civic hatchback. It didn't have air conditioning, but it had a tape deck so all was good.

I think it was my first or second semester at Sac State and I was living with my boyfriend in an apartment at 17th and P streets. A second-floor, two-bedroom that overlooked a courtyard with a pool. I had two cats, a full class load and a full-time job.

I was always really busy and kind of overwhelmed and always, always fighting with the boyfriend.

I was also, I remember, very very lonely. Four years removed from high school and three years deep into that shithole of a relationship, I didn't really have anyone at that point in my life that I considered my best friend. No real trusted confidant. Music was pretty much it. My therapy, my therapist. I played certain tapes in that car loudly and repeatedly.

Nirvana's Nevermind was released in 1991 and by 1992 "Smells LIke Teen Spirit" was a massive hit. Not only did it mark a cultural shift in popular music and popular culture, it just hit the target completely on what it meant to be young and confused. What 20something didn't have the lyrics "I feel stupid and contagious" looping continuously through his or her head that year? Just me? OK, whatever. I had it though and that's the point. Those words were there, like a salve.

Hatfield's song "Nirvana" perfectly captured that song's particular therapy and just as I listened to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" constantly, I also endlessly listened to Hatfield's caterwaul of a tribute.

Play, rewind, play, rewind, play, rewind. Sing, sing louder.

"Now, here comes the song I love so much
Makes me wanna go fuck shit up
Now, I got Nirvana in my head
I'm so glad I'm not dead

I slam my hand in the car door
I scream 'till I could scream no more
Bloody and mean and rotten to the core ....

You try to get off the ground
But you always end up coming down
When the sound comes around and goes in your ears
You can do anything you have no fears
When that sound comes around and goes in my ears
I can do anything I have no fears"

Without it, without Nirvana, without countless other songs, I don't know where I'd be today.

Kurt Cobain couldn't escape the demons but his music remains, helping others climb out of their own seemingly bottomless pits of darkness.

There's a certain sad beauty and joy in that.



Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.