(Credit: Julie Kramer)

Why Dave Grohl still can’t listen to Nirvana

Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl famously started his career playing with little known Seattle band Nirvana and, alongside Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic, the three musketeers went on to conquer the world. But after Cobain’s tragic death by suicide — Grohl has admitted that he still finds it too difficult to listen back to their work.

The two members of Nirvana shared a special relationship. They shared this wild joint-life experience that saw them go from playing clubs to headlining festivals around the globe in such a short space of time. It was a journey that led to Grohl and Cobain forming an unbreakable bond.

Following Cobain’s death in 1994, Grohl was initially quite rightly coy about speaking about his experience of losing somebody that he was so incredibly close to. But as time has passed, he has become more open about their friendship sharing some of their more personal moments. In essence, he has learnt to live with the grief.

The death of Cobain floored him to such a degree that it made listening to any music let alone the work of Nirvana an impossible task for years. The time they shared together was so precious and one that Grohl still looks back upon with all the fondness in the world — but these incredible memories are also met with the horrible way that the band were forced to split up in the most tragic of circumstances.

“For years I couldn’t even listen to any music, let alone a Nirvana song,” the Foo Fighters great admitted to GQ in 2018. “When Kurt died, every time the radio came on, it broke my heart. I don’t put Nirvana records on, no. Although they are always on somewhere. I get in the car, they’re on. I go into a shop, they’re on. For me, it’s so personal,” Grohl added.

The music of Nirvana carries such a heavyweight of emotion for Grohl that it makes it a near-impossible task for him to successfully appreciate the brilliance of their music, without looking back at the time with sadness because of his yearning for Kurt. “I remember everything about those records; I remember the shorts I was wearing when we recorded them or that it snowed that day. Still, I go back and find new meanings to Kurt’s lyrics,” he said.

“Not to seem revisionist, but there are times when it hits me. You go, ‘Wow, I didn’t realise he was feeling that way at the time’. I remember everything about those records; I remember the shorts I was wearing when we recorded them or that it snowed that day. Still, I go back and find new meanings to Kurt’s lyrics,” Grohl also noted.

Nirvana, for me, was a personal revolution,” he says. “I was 21. You remember being 21? You think you know it all. But you don’t. I thought I knew everything. And being in Nirvana showed me how little I really knew. They were some of the greatest highs of my life, but also, of course, one of the biggest lows. Those experiences became a footing or a foundation on how to survive.”

It’s impossible to say if Grohl would be the same man he is today if it wasn’t for the highs and the lows he went through with Nirvana. The likelihood is that they will have changed his perspective on life and it’s understandable that it hurts too much to appreciate the greatness of the art that the three friends made together. Even if he can’t listen to Nirvana, Kurt’s spirit still lives on in Grohl’s heart.

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