Seattle’s Cults : Gateway to Nirvana

April 4, 2012

When one thinks of sect-like movements, we rarely imagine its inception in a drizzling temperate marine climate. Reality is, Seattle, Washington, is the birthplace of many multinational corporations which are known to have a cult like following. Apple might prematurely come to mind but might just want to leave that to California. Nevertheless, it is the birth place of Paul Allen and Bill Gates, founders of Microsoft. In addition, companies such as Nordstrom, Amazon, Costco and of course Starbucks were created in Seattle. Which all are allied with and supported by loyal followings.

Furthermore, it is the birthplace of legends that are as popular in death as they were when alive: Jimi Hendrix for Rock and Kurt Cobain for Alternative Rock / Grunge.

Kurt Cobain, the lead singer and guitarist of the band Nirvana, is one of the most respected modern artist of recent generations. Since their debut, Nirvana sold over 25 million albums in the US alone, and over 50 million worldwide. He is esteemed by people from all musical background. He is even hailed as “the spokesman of a generation” or Nirvana as “flagship band of Generation X”. For the ones out there that have no idea who he is or for the ones that are under the impression that I am inflating his influence and success, in 2006, Cobain took the place of Elvis Presley as the top-earning deceased celebrity, which he then reclaimed the spot in 2007.

The group found success with Smells Like Teen Spirit from its second album Nevermind. The band name was taken from the Buddhist concept pertaining to “freedom from pain, suffering and the external world”. Cults (and religion) are often based on that pain and guilt. These feelings do parallel to Cobain’s state of mind and soul as he often felt frustrated, depressed and misunderstood. He was also diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder as a child and bipolar disorder as an adult. It lead to alcoholism and heroin addiction.

Despite all his acclaimed fame and genius compositions, On April 8, 1994, Cobain was found dead in his Seattle home, victim of suicide by a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head. He was found 3 days after his death, which occurred 18 years ago, on April 5, 1994. He finally had freed himself from all this pain, as true cult leaders often do.

On the other hand, there was a history of mental illness and suicide in his family, two of his uncles did commit suicide in the same matter.

Before he reached for his Nirvana, Cobain wrote a suicide note, addressed to his childhood imaginary friend Boddah:

“To Boddah,

Speaking from the tongue of an experienced simpleton who obviously would rather be an emasculated infantile complainer. 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 guilty 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 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 LOVE YOU!”

Thus Always … To Genius.

– Kurt Donald Cobain (R.I.P. April 5, 1994)

Copyright © 2012 Thus Always To Genius. All Rights Reserved.

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One Response to “Seattle’s Cults : Gateway to Nirvana”

  1. I never believed the suicide theory. I’ve always thought tha it was an inside job involving Courtney, Dave Grohl and Pat Smear (listen to the Foo Fighter’s song February Stars , it’s a sort of confession I think.)

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