When Kurt Cobain died at the tragic age of 27 back in 1994, Metallica’s Lars Ulrich poignantly reflected that “with Kurt Cobain, you felt you were connecting to the real person, not to a perception of who he was — you were not connecting to an image or a manufactured cut-out. You felt that between you and him there was nothing — it was heart-to-heart. There are very few people who have that ability”.
It was this naked vulnerability that made him so endearing to a generation of youngsters. He attracted a cult of fans in the wake of his bold individualism. Now, long after his passing, that same sense of a connection has never ceased to shine in any way. Cobain and his artistic output with Nirvana have remained an essential part of the iconography of alternative culture.
This enduring legacy is matched by very few artists. However, one trailblazing band whose star has refused to fade away just so happened to get Cobain into music in the first place. “At a really early age, I wanted to be a rock ‘n’ roll star. Ever since I got my first Beatles record, I wanted to play drums. I wanted to have the adoration of John Lennon but have the anonymity of Ringo Starr.”
The ‘Fab Four’ introduced him to music and they remained a constant fixture throughout his life thereafter. As Dave Grohl said of the star’s memorial service: “Everyone got to celebrate Kurt’s love of The Beatles one last time together.”
Speaking to BBC Radio 2, the Nirvana drummer then revealed his late bandmate’s farewell anthem. “That day, after everyone had said their piece, this next song came over the speakers […] Still to this day, when I hear it, it touches a place in me that no other song ever will. It’s called ‘In My Life’ and knowing how much of a fan Kurt was of The Beatles, and how much of an influence they were, to everything we’ve done ever done…I’d like to play this one for him,” Grohl said.
The Beatles anthem ‘In My Life’ is from their classic Rubber Soul album which Cobain described as his favourite period of the ‘Fab Four’. The track offers up an autobiographical reflection on John Lennon’s life which is fitting in the same open-book way that Cobain lived and poured into his introspective work.
Beyond that introspection is the beauty of the music itself which prompted Lennon to remark: “I was writing melody with the best of them.” This too feels like a touchstone to Cobain, who pined for the simplicity of melodious release in his own output as a songwriter, beyond the grit of Nirvana’s sound aesthetic, he achieved this wondrous feat with aplomb.