KURT Cobain left a long hand-written suicide note. It included the words of Neil Young from the song “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue): “Better to burn out / than to fade away,” Neil Young is 68 years old. Cobain was just 27 when he ended his life 20 years ago this weekend.
Neil Young referenced Cobain’s death in his autobiography, Waging Heavy Peace.
“I, coincidentally, had been trying to reach him. I wanted to talk to him. Tell him only to play when he felt like it.”
On 8 April 1994, the heroin-addicted, shy Nirvana front man was found dead in his Seattle home – three day after he’d died.
He left behind a wife Courtney Love and his one-year-old daughter, Frances Bean.
Many worshipped Cobain, leader of the death cult. Even in death, his celebrity was all.
But not for everyone. In my house, my mother said one thing: “He took the coward’s way out.” I can’t but feel that’s more like the kind of thing he needed in his life. Forget the adulation and the fans who want a piece of you. Get someone you love to tell you to refocus, mature and see the bigger picture.
Twenty years on and Cobain is remembered as a rock martyr, the face of a terrible statue, the music and this note that includes a message to his young family:
Frances and Courtney, I’ll be at your altar.
Please keep going Courtney,
for her life which will be so much happier
The letter was written not to them, but to his imaginary friend Boddah. How sad is that? To be so famous and regret not being the life and soul of the party; unable to be happy in your own skin? He never was Freddie Mercury:
Speaking from the tongue of an experienced simpleton who obviously would rather be an emasculated, infantile complain-ee. This note should be pretty easy to understand. All the warnings from the punk rock 101 courses over the years, since my first introduction to the, shall we say, ethics involved with independence and the embracement of your community has proven to be very true. I haven’t felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music along with reading and writing for too many years now. I feel guity beyond words about these things. For example when we’re back stage and the lights go out and the manic roar of the crowds begins., it doesn’t affect me the way in which it did for Freddie Mercury, who seemed to love, relish in the the love and adoration from the crowd which is something I totally admire and envy. The fact is, I can’t fool you, any one of you. It simply isn’t fair to you or me. The worst crime I can think of would be to rip people off by faking it and pretending as if I’m having 100% fun. Sometimes I feel as if I should have a punch-in time clock before I walk out on stage.
I’ve tried everything within my power to appreciate it (and I do,God, believe me I do, but it’s not enough). I appreciate the fact that I and we have affected and entertained a lot of people. It must be one of those narcissists who only appreciate things when they’re gone. I’m too sensitive. I need to be slightly numb in order to regain the enthusiasms I once had as a child. On our last 3 tours, I’ve had a much better appreciation for all the people I’ve known personally, and as fans of our music, but I still can’t get over the frustration, the guilt and empathy I have for everyone. There’s good in all of us and I think I simply love people too much, so much that it makes me feel too fucking sad. The sad little, sensitive, unappreciative, Pisces, Jesus man. Why don’t you just enjoy it? I don’t know! I have a goddess of a wife who sweats ambition and empathy and a daughter who reminds me too much of what I used to be, full of love and joy, kissing every person she meets because everyone is good and will do her no harm. And that terrifies me to the point to where I can barely function. I can’t stand the thought of Frances becoming the miserable, self-destructive, death rocker that I’ve become. I have it good, very good, and I’m grateful, but since the age of seven, I’ve become hateful towards all humans in general. Only because it seems so easy for people to get along that have empathy. Only because I love and feel sorry for people too much I guess. Thank you all from the pit of my burning, nauseous stomach for your letters and concern during the past years. I’m too much of an erratic, moody baby! I don’t have the passion anymore, and so remember, it’s better to burn out than to fade away. Peace, love, empathy.
Kurt Cobain Frances and Courtney, I’ll be at your alter. Please keep going Courtney, for Frances. For her life, which will be so much happier without me. I LOVE YOU, I LOV[E YOU!