Poll: Where Were You When You Heard that Kurt Cobain had died?

Many people who are older than I am can tell you where they were when John F. Kennedy died or remember how they saw the first moon landing. Leaving private stuff aside, I remember four events vividly: The fall of the Berlin wall; Germany win the 1990 World Cup; Kurt Cobain's death; 9-11.

Today I'd like to ask you about the third item on that list: Do you remember where you were when you heard that Kurt Cobain's dead? A few related questions:

What did Nirvana and Kurt Cobain mean to you?

What's their best song?

Do you remember when you heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit" first?

When you first heard grunge music, did it occur to you that this was a genre which warrants a new name?

Anything else?

You are not supposed to answer these one-by-one, although, if you like, you can, of course. If Kurt Cobain meant nothing to you and you don't remember his death, that's a valid answer.

I am going to leave my own answer in the comments section as soon as I find the time.

Thank you for participating, it's appreciated!

(It may seem a bit optimistic to hold a poll at a blog with such a small readership, but I get quite a bit of google traffic to the alternative rock posts, and I'm going to link from there to here, so I guess the answers will trickle in over the months. I'll let you, my fifteen loyal readers, know when the first ten are in.)


Political Scientist said...

At the risk of kicking off with a damp squib, Kurt Cobain doesn't mean anything to me - as a teenager, I was never very into music.

I first heard "Smells like..." in c. 1998, and I can understand why people are so keen on Nirvana.

LemmusLemmus said...

You first heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit" in 1998? Where were you? It can hardly have been the U.K.

LemmusLemmus said...

I heard that Kurt Cobain had died while being in a club; it must have been a Friday or Saturday night. I was told by a girl who was a huge Nirvana fan. At first I didn't believe it as some months before, there had already been rumours that he's dead when in fact he had only been hospitalized (in Italy, I think). But she assured me that she had seen the news on MTV repeatedly and that it was really true.

It didn't strike me that hard as to me Nirvana were merely a very good band, no more. If I had been a few years younger, this might have been different.

Having said that, I have a vivid memory of hearing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for the first time. I earlier wrote:

"In Philipe Djian's brilliant novel which is called Pas de deux in German and Lent dehors in the French original (that's right, they substituted one French title for another), there is a scene in which the adolescent narrator hears Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" for the first time while travelling in a car in 1965. He is completely taken aback, baffled, has his mouth standing open, can't believe it. I read that when the book came out in Germany in 1993 and found it a bit eerie because that described exactly my experience of hearing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for the first time. Except for the 1965 bit, of course."

I can still remember from where to where we were driving, who was the driver, what model the car was and what colour it had. I think I bought Nevermind the next Monday. (In Germany, shops are closed on Sundays.)

It didn't occur to me, though, that this was a new genre of music. To me it was just indie rock, like, say, Sonic Youth and the Pixies. Interestingly, the first term one heard in Germany for Nirvana-type music was "Seattle Sound", before somehow "Grunge" took over. I wonder whether "Seattle Sound" was in use in the US, too.

So, I wasn't struck too hard by Kurt Cobain's death. It was nothing like that day in 1992 when I first got a letter saying that I'd (contrary to my expectations) be drafted into the military and then read that the Pixies had split up. The second bit of news was worse.

Even so, I found Kurt Cobain's death very regrettable. I've never met the man, but he always came across as a genuinely nice guy. It's always the nice people that kill themselves, isn't it? Arseholes usually have lots of self-esteem.

pj said...

I wrote a reply a week ago but it seems to have got lost.

Think I was at school when someone told me Cobain was dead - don't think I believed them. Wasn't massively affected but it seemed sad and premature.

Like you I didn't think of grunge as a new genre when I first heard it, obviously the connections were there to the Pixies and alternative rock, but also the sound of more metal bands. When I was young grunge always served as something of a common ground for those of a more indie persuasion and true metallers. I can't remember where I was or what my first thoughts were regarding 'smells like teen spirit' but that was certainly the time when I first started really getting into music, but that may have more to do with actually having some money and a CD player by then.

Best song is probably 'Come as you are' despite blatantly ripping off the bass line. I love their version of 'Man who sold the world' but I don't think that counts

LemmusLemmus said...

Where's the bassline of "Come as You Are" taken from?

pj said...

Killing Joke have a rather good song called 'Eighties'.

pj said...

My other half had tickets for the cancelled European tour, she was quite annoyed eventually.

troy said...

I don't really remember where I was. I wasn't the biggest fan, although I respect the songwriting.

I first heard Smells Like Teen Spirit (since that also seems to be a mini-poll here) probably soon after it was released, at a club in New York called the Wetlands, right by the World Trade Center. I was there to see the Spin Doctors, who probably you wouldn't know it if you didn't see them live were a truly amazing band, and I was on something. So was this guy near me; he had the prototypical stoner look, with long hair and a beard, and he wasn't doing much until that song came over the speakers while we were waiting for the show to start. And then, when it got to the chorus, he FREAKED OUT and started slamdancing, and his eyes looked possessed. So that song's always had some powerful connotations for me.