"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Friday, December 20, 2019

Kurt Cobain

This 1993 photo of Kurt Cobain, printed in 2018, by Jesse Frohman hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
In the song “Stay Away” from Nirvana's 1991 album Nevermind, the band's front man, Kurt Cobain, sings, I'd rather be dead “Monkey see, monkey do/ than cool!” Led by Cobain's wailing voice and his explosive guitar chords, Nevermind was arguably one of the most influential albums of the early 1990s, selling more than six million copies during the band's short life.

Yet Cobain, like Bob Dylan, was a reluctant rock star. Ambivalent about the band's success, he was extremely uncomfortable with attention from fans and the media. A product of the Pacific Northwest punk scene, he wore thrift-store plaid shirts and torn jeans to distance himself from the packaged stadium rockers of the previous decade. Louder, faster, and often darker, Seattle grunge, as exemplified by Nirvana, also proved widely popular. Three years after Nevermind's release, at the age of twenty-seven, Cobain died by suicide. -- NPG

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