Like a lot of misfit teenage music-loving loners stuck in small towns in the early 1990s, I was obsessed with Kurt Cobain. I'm embarrassed to admit I was devastated by his 1994 suicide, taking it almost as hard as a death in my own family. Really, I just needed a girlfriend, but any of you who shared my circumstances can probably relate. Now, I think of Kurt Cobain as a selfish, immature celebrity junkie who wasted his talent and cruelly left behind a young daughter, and I think of Nirvana as a really good band who made a few really good records and probably could have made even more instead of as one of my primary reasons for living. Teenagers are some melodramatic, inexperienced fools, and that's why I have affection for them. Still, my pain was real, though misguided, and Nirvana's records got me through my naive period of mourning for the famous man-boy who created those records. Music can get you through some hard shit.
Now that I'm a grown man ("grown-ass man" now needing to be retired in the storage shed of overused white hipster slang alongside forebears like "batshit" and "word up"), I've had to cope with bigger problems than teen angst and celebrity death. My parents' divorce, deaths in the family, unemployment, depression, real adult alienation from the world replacing mannered teen ennui, lack of opportunity, money troubles, periods of strained relationships with both parents, Zooey Deschanel's divorce from Ben Gibbard (gotcha), et al. These problems put my teenage depression into perspective and taught me that life is mostly hard and brutal, though it's spattered with fleeting beautiful moments where the light comes in and the bullshit temporarily disappears.
What happened to an acquaintance less than a week ago, a close friend of several of my close friends, on New Year's Eve has put my difficult last four years in the same kind of perspective those difficult years put on my immature teen angst. A stranger murdered this woman in her own home after she celebrated the new year watching bands play two blocks from where she lived. I didn't know her well, only enough to say hello in the grocery store or a rock club or a friend's party in those hello-friend-of-friend moments of recognition, but many of my good friends in this usually safe city adored her. She was a friend to one of my bandmates, and she saw us play a few times. Like me, she was a drummer and a music freak who had planned to be a teacher. She was a special education assistant in an elementary school and a volunteer at a rock camp for pre-teen and teen girls. She was only 29, and I don't understand it. I've always been fascinated by true crime and real-life murder mysteries, but I hate this one. I hate it.
We lie to ourselves sometimes, but most of us know the deal. We know that death is part of the gamble of getting out of bed and getting on with our lives, day following day. We could drive too fast, step off a curb without looking, fall off a balcony, get some disease from smoking or drinking or sitting on our asses too much or just having lousy genes. Most of us just get too damn old. But each one of us should have the right to take this gamble without some pigfucking cretin fixing the odds just because he can. She deserved to get home safe and didn't because this world is such an unfair place. The news channels are calling this murder a tragedy and it is, but I don't like this juxtaposition of her life and name next to the word "tragedy." She made my friends happy and taught young girls to rock and inspired her students and supported tons of great local bands. That's not a life of tragedy. The tragedy is that her killer's mother didn't have an abortion.
My 1994 song, and my alternate choice, is dedicated to my friends and her. I hope I didn't pick a song she hated.
Sebadoh - "S. Soup" This is a real shit soup of a new year so far.
Alternate choice: The Magnetic Fields - "Swinging London"