Short Echoes: You Know You're Wrong

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It was 15 years ago last week when a landscaper found Kurt Cobain's body sprawled out on the floor of his garage apartment.

Time flies when you're dead, huh? His suicide will always be a shining example of why an aspiration to celebrity is such a vacuous exercise in ego. The guy could never admit that he actually liked being in the spotlight. Cobain loved being adored by his fans, but spent the last years of his life trying to prove that he was above all that. Instead, he feigned disinterest and shot a shitload of dope. Then he shot himself in the head.

I'll spare you having to read another account of the Nirvana show at Trees in 1991, but I will share one moment from that night that really put this whole thing in perspective for me.


It was around six o'clock that day, and the band had just finished sound check. One of the local reps from Geffen Records had just laid out about 30 Nevermind posters in a row, so that the three band members could quickly walk by and autograph each one.

These posters were to be given away to radio stations, record stores, and to people who had helped the band gain some measure of a public profile in such a short time. Remember: They signed up for this when they did a major label deal. This autograph thing was part of what happens when you're out on tour promoting a record.

For an artist, it's the least you could do to show your appreciation for the grunt work that people do so you end up a rich motherfucker. Dave Grohl and Krist Novaselic did their simple duty and knocked them out in less than three minutes--the band was clearly on a tight schedule, with people pulling them in every direction.

Cobain took the black sharpie and started drawing a crude but elaborate image on the first one. He spent about five minutes on something that rendered the poster unrecognizable. One down, 29 to go.

Everyone else is scurrying around like rats, doing last-minute prep for the show. Kurt wants people to notice that he thinks the whole thing is bullshit. When the rep from Geffen very politely reminded him that they were on a schedule, and that maybe it would just be easier just to sign his name, Cobain then went down the line of posters and purposely misspelled his own name on every single poster.

Kurt, you wrote some great songs, and Nirvana was one of my favorite bands. I still bust out your shit every now and then. But what in the world did you ever see in a doping enabler like Courtney Love... and why do I now feel like a moron for ever taking you seriously?
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