“If you ask me, how I’m doing, I’d lie and say I’m doing just fine…” ~ Gavin Degraw
In the 1990s, a young man rose to fame and fortune through his music. That young man was Kurt Cobain. At some point, Kurt Cobain was dubbed The Jesus Man, either through his own volition or his fans’, but it stuck.
On April 8, 1994, at 27 years old, Kurt Cobain took his own life, leaving behind his wife and young daughter. Later, the suicide note he had left behind was published. It was filled with all the reasons why. Summed up, it said No one was listening; not even his fans. They were not hearing what he was trying to convey in his music, which led to unfathomable frustration.
Outside of his fan base, most people didn’t even know who Kurt Cobain was until he had grasped the brass ring of stardom. By that time, most people only saw what was on the exterior of this extraordinary, deep-thinking soul lost in a world of chaos of which he could not make sense. And worse yet, in his mind, could not get his fans to understand him as a person and all the things he really represented.
He was seen by the older generations as a drug-addicted malcontent who was a bad influence on the children. The fans consumed his misery and unsettled soul like blood sucking vampires. His public image was distorted; not at all what he wanted his fans to feed on. He wanted to make a difference. He wanted to say all the things his soul was feeling, but he could not get the monochromatic world to listen. He was frustrated.
The songs he chose to perform, whether his own or those of others, all had a deep significant meaning to him. They all had something in common. They were all the double-edged sword of spiritual confliction. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
Come as You Are, as you were, as I want you to be. The lyrics of this song sound familiar outside of the music world, don’t they? We hear the words that it’s ok to be who you are, it’s safe, don’t worry; and then all the worries about falling short come to mind and things go haywire from there.
Lake of Fire (Originally, recorded by the Meat Puppets as a swipe against what they perceived as the hypocritical Christian faith.)…where do all the bad people go when they die? They don’t go to heaven where the angels fly. They go to a lake of fire, don’t see them again ‘til the 4th of July. Kurt Cobain was a huge fan of the Meat Puppets and performed this song often. In his suicide note, Kurt Cobain expressed several times his feelings of guilt. He didn’t feel guilty for what you might think. He felt guilty for being perceived as something he wasn’t, and his inability to live up to it. He wasn’t a drug-addicted malcontent whose soul was destined to be consumed by the vampirical fans of misery. You’ll have to think on this one for a while.
The Man Who Sold the World…We passed upon on the stairs...He said I was his friend…Kurt Cobain struggled immensely with his own self-identity. He also struggled with what he believed to be true. In his note, Kurt Cobain spoke about love, empathy, and humanity. This song was about meeting Jesus on the stairway to Heaven. He was surprised by the encounter. (Figuratively speaking) He had come face to face with the man who, in his mind, had sold the world. He says in the lyrics, I thought you died alone a long, long time ago. He felt abandon by Jesus long ago in his tormented life. In the second reference to the man on the stairs, he is referring to himself as the man who sold the world - the man who died alone a long, long time ago.
Kurt Cobain was indeed an extraordinary man in his own right. The world will never have the opportunity to know the true depth of his spirit, and what he desperately wanted - needed - the world to hear; because no one was listening.
When a person reaches the point of spiritual bankruptcy there are only two ways left to go - up or out. Unfortunately, many people choose out because they feel they are not being heard. I will always believe that Kurt Cobain was a good soul, lost to the millions of deaf ears his words were falling on.
When others are speaking, are you listening? Really?