Linkin Park

My friend Desi and I went to see Linkin Park at Jiffy Lube Live on Wednesday. I’ve been listening to this band for years but this was the first time I saw them. The show was terrific, but even more impressive is Chester Bennington’s ability to sing like he does without losing his voice. Once again, I took a bunch of lousy photos that I feel compelled to share just because.

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RIP Kurt Cobain – 20 Years Later

Here I am sitting on the bench in the park near Cobain’s home in Seattle. The bench has been a memorial for fans for the past two decades.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. I’d say he was the Jimi Hendrix/Jim Morrison of my generation (it’s called Generation X – a term I despise but who am I kidding? That’s what it is). I became a fan the first few seconds of hearing Nirvana play ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ on Saturday Night Live. Goodbye, 80’s metal, this was the music I’d be listening to in high school and college. To this day, I hear this music and it’s suddenly the 90s again.

I believe 1991 was one of the best years for music in recent memory, when Nevermind, Pearl Jam’s Ten, Metallica’s Black album and Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Blood Sugar Sex Magik all came out. Cobain and Nirvana rose to the top. Cobain’s death left a gaping hole as the 90s continued with related but not Nirvana acts like the Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots.

It wasn’t just the music. I’m a huge fan of Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, and as much as I like Bruce Dickinson and Joe Elliot, those singers didn’t captivate me like Cobain. It was Cobain’s voice, singing those deep-yet-simple lyrics, and that tortured (aka grunge) look. Perhaps we even owe it to his drug abuse and inner demons that contributed to the aura around him that was more likely to fascinate folks than push them away. This was a far cry from the big-hair-glam rock of the 80s, which suddenly became an afterthought. Cobain hypnotized audiences in ways that other talented musicians didn’t. He spoke to us, even when we didn’t quite understand what he was saying.

I sometimes picture an alternate reality where I walk out of the rain and into a dark Seattle coffee shop. In the corner, I see the glow of a cigarette and the silhouette of a man with shoulder-length hair and an acoustic guitar. He waves me over, and I take a seat nearby. He strums the guitar and sings for me, perhaps Come as You Are, and I just sit and listen, in a virtual trance. As the song concludes, he fades away, but the image and sound stays with me for the rest of my life.

I am not writing anything today – 20 years after his death – that I wouldn’t have written ten or 15 years ago. In fact, the moment the news broke that he had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, it was apparent to me that he was a man I would write about at some point, even two decades later.

Rest in peace, Kurt.