Friday, November 15, 2002

Pete Townshend's piece on Kurt Cobain's Journals is truly an expert's assessment, and a sad one.

Townshend, more and more, reminds me in his way of Wordsworth; besides being tall and gaunt, he too started as a Romantic revolutionary and (despite his own youthful warnings to himself) got old and conservative, as people often do; as Anthony Burgess' lost chapter of A Clockwork Orange made clear, you can't stay a destructive lout forever. If you're lucky, you gain wisdom.

How curious it is, though, for the man who helped forge the standard for rock excess, who was Kurt Cobain before there was Kurt Cobain, to be delivering this painful eulogy not only to the multiple rock corpses he has seen over the years (Keith Moon among them), but to the corpse he himself could have become:

It is terrible that someone so obviously sick, so mentally deranged, so angry and unstable, should not have been helped further and beyond his wonderful work with his band...

It is desperately sad for me to sit here, 57 years old, and contemplate how often wasteful are the deaths of those in the rock industry. We find it so hard to save our own, but must take responsibility for the fact that the message such deaths as Cobain's sends to his fans is that it is in some way heroic to scream at the world, thrash a guitar, smash it up and then overdose.

Read this book to see that the human spirit, even at its most sublime, can effect monumental damage on itself and its fellow souls if addiction enters the story. I mourn for Kurt. A once beautiful, then pathetic, lost and heroically stupid boy. Hard rock indeed.

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