The other recent twenty year anniversary on my mind has been Kurt Cobain’s death. Nirvana were the first band I truly loved. I’d enjoyed music before of course, but until Nevermind came along it had just been a diversion, a pastime, an enjoyment. Nevermind was the first time music felt more important than that to me.
For the sake of a good story, this should have happened the first time I heard it, but in reality it was initially just one of a number of albums I liked. It was, perhaps not coincidentally, only when adolescence hit that it began to assume such importance in my life. When Kurt died, I had not long turned 14, and my fandom was at is peak. It genuinely pained me when I heard the news, but I was also annoyed that none of my friends, Nirvana fans all, seemed especially upset. It was that most teenage of complaints, that no-one felt like I did, no-one appreciated the tragedy of what happened like I did, no-one understands me!
Of course, with time came perspective, and more deaths of musicians I admired, albeit never in quite such shocking or tragic circumstances again. None of the others would ever affect me the same way, and now it is obvious to me that it was the fact of my own adolescence that caused Kurt’s death to affect me so deeply. But at the time I just felt sad and alone, and if anyone had told me that I shouldn’t be so upset at the death of someone I didn’t know, I would have been annoyed and angry, even if I couldn’t have mounted a compelling argument as to why they were wrong.
My teenage angst about this, and so many other things, now seems faintly ridiculous to me, yet I remember how real it all felt at the time. I hope that when I have my own teenagers, with their own angst, I will to some extent remember and understand (even if the understanding of their parents may be the last thing the teenager wants).