Tag Archives: Retrospective

Looking Back At Nirvana

Kurt Cobain

KURT COBAIN WAS NOT a generation’s representative, a spokesperson, or even a rock star. Many tried to press him into these and other molds, much to his frustration, but it happens that he was a songwriter always on the search for a new sound. When he died, by medical estimation on the fifth of April in 1994, some (among them R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe) believed he was about to abandon the grunge formula for which he had become known. There is evidence he was about to quit music altogether. In any case, the posthumous album, MTV Unplugged in New York, is the best indication we have of the band’s unrealized prospects. Perhaps Nirvana’s most accessible and widely known recording, Unplugged is an accomplished example of musical understatement, disclosing Cobain’s intuitive ability to compose songs (or in the case of The Vaselines, Meat Puppets, Lead Belly, and David Bowie covers, select them) which complement his particular vocal and playing styles.

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Holding Out for the Bloodless Revolution

WITHIN THE space of days a bottomless media appetite will undertake the task of digesting 2011. A year of surprises, rebellion, and upheaval, its closing weeks now deliver the news that Václac Havel and Kim Jong Il have died. It is an offense against taste to fadge these two men in a final recollection, but it happens that mere chance has given us an occasion to ruminate on the just-maybes of 2012.

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