As Nirvana fans and former band members remember the release of In Utero, which celebrates 30 years this year, we look at the mountain of documentaries about the late, charismatic Kurt Cobain and Nirvana spread across YouTube.
Starring: Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl and Courtney Love
ll authentic accounts of those who worked with Kurt Cobain or are related to him as well as those who have read the book Heavier Than Heaven by author and journalist Charles R. Cross – seem to have faith in the book.
Most agree that it is the most accurate and definitive (bestselling) biography of the late and charismatic front-man of Nirvana – Kurt Cobain – with updated versions made available.
But there is an entire population that is willing to dismiss what is a seminal piece of work for a variety of reasons.
Hit the search button on YouTube and one too many stories will em-erge including some that were based in the truth. Yes, Kurt Cobain loved smashing his guitars. He was enamored with symmetry, which will show up in some of the cover art accompanying albums. He was a man of contradictions who wanted to be famous but once he did become incredibly famous, didn’t know how to deal with it.
There is a wormhole through which you get to a whole other planet, filled with intrigue, conspiracies and even subterfuge. Some believe Kurt Cobain is, wait for it, alive.
None of these are commissioned video biographies to begin with but when Kurt Cobain, the leader and the father of grunge music was the subject, fans went wild. Even Bob Dylan had said after seeing one performance: “He has heart.”
While some documentaries, not funded by Nirvana or Netflix or another streaming platform, are cherished concerts featuring unheard material (which is like hitting a gold mine), others, made by fans, oh so many fans, depict what only can be the aftermath of chasing rabbits through various tunnels.
If any video claims it can tell you about Kurt Cobain’s death being a staged event, skip right past it. If a documentary suggests that Kurt Cobain did die but it was not due to suicide but because of murder, skip that one as well. Nirvana fans may not like it but Charles Cross didn’t write the book based on the words of Courtney Love. Why? Let’s save you some time, and by time, I mean hours and hours…
Had Charles Cross gone to Courtney Love and not the 400 people who are quoted in this book, the narrative would’ve been very, very, different. Having read the book, I can confirm that this isn’t the take provided by Courtney Love.
If that had been the case, the book would not do justice to the woman with whom Kurt had a three-year-long relationship who ran the household and sort of funded Cobain’s career, before Nevermind had released and Cobain and Nirvana had released Bleach. In fact, after Nirvana’s first album, Bleach, things were heading towards a break up, and it was obvious to both. And when it did happen, it was a tragedy since Tracy was not a heroin-user, unlike his later girlfriend, Courtney Love, who liked dating rockstars.
She, according to Cobain’s fans left The Smashing Pumpkins’ front-man and guitarist Billy Corgan for Kurt Cobain.
According to which documentary you’re watching and how much time you have, at least half a dozen self-made docs of Kurt Cobain look fascinating enough to watch. But it might change your perception of the band and the man in question.
Kurt Cobain’s death was, according to one documentary, a sacrifice. A sacrifice for whom? Bad grunge bands? Who knows. Apparently the same has been said about Beyonce, Jay-Z, Oprah, Michael Jackson. Okay then.
Others believe he died but as a sacrifice for the Illuminati who control the music business and Hollywood. Yet another thinks Cobain was murdered by a certain drummer who went on to have a thriving career but would’ve never reached the level of fame he has had Cobain alived. Yes, you guessed it: Dave Grohl. What is true though is that Nevermind’s global success made everyone happy but Kurt Cobain who thought it was too polished and deliberately made In Utero disparate and raw.
One documentary suggests that ‘You Know You’re Right’ which was released as a single years after Cobain’s death is not the only song lying in a vault somewhere. This is true. The versions are not mastered but there are several songs on YouTube that are concerts of Nirvana featuring material that hasn’t been released.
Our suggestion is to read the book and not get lost in the variety of conspiracy theories that have overshadowed the work. As a record, In Utero showed not just the promise of Kurt Cobain as a genuine songwriter – particularly compared to Bleach – but was a depiction of how much influence Cobain has yielded even after his death.
The world may have embraced electronic music but even today young kids are seen wearing Nirvana t-shirts and the genre isn’t entirely dead. The kids of today may not know the entire significance of the band and its beautiful frontman, but unknowingly, Kurt created music that was for all times to come.
Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection