Hailing from Aberdeen, Washington, Kurt Cobain was the singer-songwriter and guitarist of the band Nirvana. After Nirvana established itself in Seattle’s grunge music scene, the band quickly grew to become one of the world’s most well-loved and influential bands. They have produced countless songs that are considered timeless classics. Their most famous album ‘Nevermind’ dethroned Michael Jackson’s ‘Dangerous’ after its release. Since then, it has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. And even though it has been more than 24 years since Kurt’s tragic death, the music he made with Nirvana is still very much in vogue.
Most people who knew Kurt Cobain remember him as a shy yet incredibly sweet man. And although popular media often portrays him as this tortured and depressed artist, his friends and family claim otherwise. They remember Kurt as an intellectual with a wonderful sense of humor who was just very easy to get along with. But above all, they remember Kurt as this sensitive and caring soul with a very keen understanding of humanity.
And that is what this article wishes to celebrate. As uncharacteristic as it sounds, Kurt’s words were incredibly wise. They were simple (almost innocent even) yet powerful because they were so wise and true.
So here are a few Kurt Cobain quotes that are both inspiring, motivational, and still very touchingly relevant to this day:
1. “The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.”
It’s surprising how often we hear a variation of this message come from rockstars from the alternate scene. Kurt Cobain goes about it the right way. Kurt does not call for a rebellion against all forms of authority, nor does he suggest violence with his words. Unlike other rockstars who have done so and often created generations of rebels without any causes, Kurt did not do the same. His message is simple yet very powerful – and that is to not tolerate corruption in any form and to challenge it whenever we face it. And quite honestly, it is a message we can get behind regardless of our political affiliations or beliefs.
2. “I can’t play the guitar like Pete Townshend. The flipside of that is Pete Townshend could probably never play like me.”
Both Kurt Cobain and Pete Townshend, the lead guitarist of The Who, are respected guitarists. But who’s better? They both are! We often compare ourselves to other people and end up feeling inadequate because they do something better than we do. But we are forgetting that we might be better than them while doing something else! So what if Bill Gates is a genius billionaire? Do you think he could chop up a carrot better than a chef with ten years of experience? We might not all be the best at something but we should never let that get us down!
3. “Wanting to be someone else is a waste of who you are.”
This is very much an extension of Kurt Cobain’s previous quote. When we let ourselves be preoccupied with who we are not rather than who we are, all we do is harm ourselves. Doubt is the greatest enemy and when we doubt ourselves we cripple the amazing person each and every one of us is. We all have our own unique talents and that’s what makes us all the very best. There never was and never will be another person exactly like you on this earth and we should all embrace that fact!
4. “There are a lot of things I wish I would have done, instead of just sitting around and complaining about having a boring life.”
Aspects of our lives may sometimes wear us down. We may find ourselves wishing for things to be different, and yet we rarely do anything about it. So this particular bit of Kurt’s wisdom hits hard. His message is so obvious yet so compelling. If we want our lives to change, we must become the change! Change does not happen by us sitting idly and complaining about our lives. Change comes through action – and the best outcome can only occur if the actions are our own. We may fail but that’s okay. We can just try again. That’s what being alive is all about, after all.
5. “Zits are beauty marks.”
It’s a quirky quote – words we would associate with a comedian rather than Kurt Cobain. And yet it is a surprisingly sensible and incredibly touching quote from him when you realize that his audience was largely composed of teenagers and young adults. Beauty products in the market, like so many things in life, prey on our insecurities and keep telling us how a perfectly natural thing is ugly and wrong.
How we should fix pimples with their creams and ointments so that we can ‘fit in’. But who cares what they think when all we need is a little bit of Kurt’s wit in our lives – telling us that nobody is allowed to tell us that we’re ugly or imperfect. We are all beautiful no matter what. And all the things we think are our flaws only add to the beauty of the already perfect human being that we all are.
6. “All drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your memory and your self-respect and everything that goes along with your self-esteem. They’re no good at all.”
The quote is something completely unexpected coming from a Rockstar – especially when we consider the fact that Nirvana showed up when the ‘sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll’ attitude was at its peak. It hits especially hard when we realize that Kurt Cobain struggled with drug addiction himself. But that is exactly why this particular quote is so touching. It gives his words a certain truth that no advertisement or announcement could compare to. And we can only hope that this powerful message reaches as many people as it can.
7. “No one is afraid of heights, they’re afraid of falling down. No one is afraid of saying I love you, they’re afraid of the answer.”
Often we let our fears tell us what we should or should not do. We let opportunities slip through our fingers because we are too afraid of failing to rise up to the moment. Or we are so afraid of our loved ones hurting, that we act to protect them even when they are in no danger – only to end up being the ones that hurt and shackle them. Kurt understood this – better than most people do. Yet there is no judgement in his observation. He understands just how difficult it is to cope with the fears and anxieties that we all feel. It is up to us to decide where we choose to act or not act based on his observations.
8. “If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us – leave us the **** alone! Don’t come to our shows and don’t buy our records.”
Although very politically sensational (even by today’s standards), it is Kurt’s courage that is the most admirable when he makes this statement. We must remember that he made this statement when it was controversial to embrace it, particularly for a public figure like Kurt Cobain. It does not matter whether we agree with it or not. What we should admire his courage and be open and vocal about whatever we believe in. Because not being ourselves is one of the worst things we could to ourselves.
9. “If I went to jail, at least I wouldn’t have to sign autographs.”
We should always do our best to see the bright side of any given situation. It is easy to become depressed or angry over things that we may or may not have any control over. But in the long run, it does us more harm than good. Being positive is very much the key to success – or at least a much happier and healthier life!
10. “Thank you for the tragedy. I need it for my art.”
Not every cloud has a silver lining. Sometimes things are just bad. And no amount of positivity can change that. But what can we do when the hurt won’t go away? Kurt has the perfect answer to that. We use it. Stephen King has become one of the most successful writers in the world by turning his dark musings into stories. Jeff Horn, the famous Australian boxer who became the world champion after defeating Manny Pacquiao, only took up boxing because he used to be bullied when he was younger. Bad things happen to good people sometimes. There’s no helping that. What we can do is use it to bounce right back up – much stronger than we were before!
Kurt Cobain was an unlikely rockstar. People who met him often claimed that he was not what anyone who was supposedly responsible for revolutionizing the music scene would be. But that was just the kind of person he was. He felt no obligation to conform to the macho Rockstar image that his peers were trying so hard to fit into. And that was perhaps his best message to a generation of teenagers and youths that enjoyed and still enjoy his music. And that message was to be yourself.
Life might be a struggle at times. It will take us to places that we never expected we would find ourselves in. Others will try to dictate what we should be. The world might try to mold our beliefs and fit us into what makes most sense to them. But that does not mean that we should let it change who we know we are. You do not owe the world anything. The only one you owe anything to is yourself. If you must change, you do it for yourself and not to conform. And no matter what life throws your way, you keep a smile on your face and try to make the best of what’s been given to you.
It’s been more than 24 years since Kurt Cobain passed away and the music industry is lesser for it. There is much more we could have learned from him if he had lived on.
Let us take a moment to remember Kurt Cobain. Wherever you are, we hope you’ve found your own Nirvana.
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