Kurt Cobain was raised on a nutritious diet of The Beatles, and the moment he discovered they were no longer together was a “devastating” part of his childhood.
Although he adored everything that the band made during their time together, all fans have their own favourite era of the Fab Four, and Cobain was no different. The grunge pioneer even referred to the Liverpudlian outfit as “the biggest influence” of his career. They were the one band he constantly returned to for inspiration throughout his life, and could always rely on.
The Beatles created the framework for songwriting as we know it today, and Cobain was forever grateful for the blueprint they left behind. It also helped they were such an accessible group, and although he didn’t grow up in a musical household, the Beatles still weaved their way into his life.
Cobain’s love of The Beatles undoubtedly benefitted his songwriting and gave Nirvana a melodic touch that differentiated them from their peers. On many occasions during interviews, he opened up about his love of the group, but perhaps never in more detail than with Radio Onde Furlane in 1989.
“I would say the biggest influence I’ve ever had would be The Beatles because I listened to The Beatles since I was five years old until I was in fourth grade,” he told host Mimmo Caccamo. “The same records over and over every night! I sang the songs and I wanted to see The Beatles. It was about 1973 when I heard on the radio that they’d broken up for three years, I was totally devastated.”
Cobain continued: “Then I was introduced to hard rock, such as Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin, and I got into that. It kinda meshed together when I started playing guitar, it kinda intertwined The Beatles’ melodic style and hooks with heavy raunchy guitars. I would say that’s probably how our style started.”
Later in the interview, Cobain also revealed Rubber Soul cut ‘Norwegian Wood’ was his favourite song by the Fab Four. “Right now, even now, I’m starting to go back to listen to The Beatles,” he elaborated. “My favourite period is the Rubber Soul period, the guitar and the simple melodies are my favourite.”
‘Norwegian Wood’ marked a change stylistically in John Lennon’s songwriting technique, and he later admitted that he was attempting to emulate Bob Dylan on the track.
Cobain’s intense love of The Beatles was all-encompassing, and although ‘Norwegian Wood’ was his favourite song by the Fab Four, ‘In My Life’ was chosen by his family to be played at his funeral. Dave Grohl once remembered: “That day, after everyone had said their piece, this next song came over the speakers and everyone got to celebrate Kurt’s love of The Beatles one last time together. Still to this day, when I hear it, it touches a place in me that no other song ever will.”
Without The Beatles, Kurt Cobain potentially doesn’t fall in love with music, and his life goes down a different route. Cobain’s adoration of the group was seismic, and he cherished nothing in their output more than their stripped-back effort, ‘Norwegian Wood’.