Kurt Cobain — 20 Years On

Universal Music

Universal Music

Hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the suicide of Kurt Cobain. (I refuse to type “alleged suicide.” Courtney Love, Cobain’s widow, might not be the paragon of innocence and stability, but that doesn’t mean I buy into the murder/conspiracy theories. Yet, anyway.)

The world has changed a lot from the one the Seattle Grunge Messiah once knew: Doc Martens are no longer the fashionable stompers they used to be, Al Gore’s internet has connected the world in a digital realm of file sharing and animated GIFs, and plaid flannel shirts have once again become the almost sole domain of Canadian lumberjacks.

In the time since Cobain shuffled off this mortal coil, we’ve also seen the rise of Britney Spears, her inevitable fall, her comeback, and her becoming a Vegas staple (there was also some head-shaving in there … but that isn’t really relevant to anything, probably).

Anyway, things might be different than they used to be, but that doesn’t mean that Nirvana has faded from our hearts and minds. Impressively — thanks to live albums, greatest hits, box sets, singles, and previously unreleased tracks — the group has had more album releases posthumously than when Cobain was still with us. And on April 10, Nirvana will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (an honor possibly less significant when you realize Hall and Oates are in the same induction class).

Also keeping Nirvana relevant in modern pop culture? All the court battles that have sprung up over the years between Courtney Love and Cobain’s surviving bandmates, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl, over who exactly holds the legal rights to Nirvana’s music.

Aside from that, Courtney and her band Hole recently announced a reunion and an upcoming single, and she’s also kept her legal team busy with a landmark Twitter libel case (in which we all won the right to continue mocking those who annoy us in 140 characters or less).

Meanwhile, Nirvana’s former drummer Dave Grohl started and fronts a little band you may have heard of called Foo Fighters (fingers crossed they’ll take off soon — they’ve only sold 10 million albums in the US but I’m confident they’ll get noticed if they just hang in there). As for Krist Novoselic, Nirvana bass handler, he’s been super politically active and, uh, lost most of his hair.

Look, I know not everyone was a fan of Nirvana’s or Cobain’s. In fact, not everyone reading this was even alive when Cobain’s body was found on April 8, 1994, a few days after he died of a self-inflicted gunshot at the tender age of 27. Personally, I was a fan — and I can still remember where I was when I heard the tragic news. It’s a loss I still feel to this day.

And the worst part is we’ll never know what might have been.