The one Nirvana song that makes Kurt Cobain’s daughter cry

It may come as something of a surprise, but Frances Bean Cobain isn’t actually much of a Nirvana fan. The assumption was that Kurt Cobain’s daughter would follow in her father’s footsteps, but, in reality, Nirvana’s legacy has probably been very difficult for her to navigate, especially when you consider just how detrimental the band’s notoriety was to Cobain’s mental health.

Frances Bean was just 19 months old when her father died. Her image of him, therefore, was likely informed by his portrayal in the media – one that deified him as the tragic genius of the grunge generation. That portrayal, while it might look good in print, has always been incredibly reductive. As Frances Bean later told Rolling Stone: “The death is 99 per cent of the romanticism and mythology. It’s time to put it in check,” before going on to criticise music culture’s obsession “with the death of musicians”.

In that same interview, Frances Bean made a point of separating herself from her father’s complex legacy: “I don’t really like Nirvana that much,” she confessed. “Sorry, promotional people, Universal. I’m more into Mercury Rev, Oasis, Brian Jonestown Massacre,” she continued, cheered by the thought of undermining the music industry’s continual attempt to transform Cobain’s death into a marketable product. “The grunge scene is not what I’m interested in.”

Frances Bean went on to explain that her distaste for Nirvana is a reflection of how inavoidable they were during her adolescence: “I was around 15 when I realised he was inescapable. Even if I was in a car and had the radio on, there’s my dad.” All she wanted to do was get on with her life but the world seemed determined to make that impossible. “He’s larger than life and our culture is obsessed with dead musicians,” she said. “We love to put them on a pedestal. If Kurt had just been another guy who abandoned his family in the most awful way possible … But he wasn’t.”

All that being said, Frances Bean did concede that there are a couple of songs from Nirvana’s back catalogue that she enjoys. “Territorial Pissings’ is a fucking great song,” she said. “And ‘Dumb’ — I cry every time I hear that song. It’s a stripped-down version of Kurt’s perception of himself — of himself on drugs, off drugs, feeling inadequate to be titled the voice of a generation.”

‘Dumb’ perhaps holds so much sentimental value because it was written before the release of Nevermind when Kurt and his band were still on the fringes of acceptability. She added that the song was a sort of “projection” of her father’s fragile mental state, an attempt to put into words the feeling of living with a mind that seems committed to devouring itself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You May Also Like