Review of Curt Cobain bio, Heavier than Heaven
I just finished reading Heavier than Heaven, by Cross, A biography of Curt Cobain. True to its title it was by all means heavy. I must start by stating that the Nirvana Unplugged CD is one of the most inspired recordings I have personally encountered. Here was this band, LOUD, lyrics barely audible over the guitar and the general thrashing of instruments. I wasn’t sure what to make of the Band and more specifically the man behind what was lauded as the Best Band of our generation. Then Unplugged was aired, released and I was in awe, a convert, a believer, for what I heard in the paired down songs was pure genius and I never looked back.Upon reading this biography, (I had also read Cross’s Bio of Jimi Hendrix and really enjoyed it) I was completely taken aback by Curt Cobain.
I know that the reader here might expect a newly formed respect for Cobain, deeper than the one I felt after Unplugged. Rather, I have to say with all honesty and with no disrespect to the dead that this was not the case at all.
From the description of Curt as a child through his struggle to develop the band I was astonished to learn what a completely inauthentic person he was. From his early exaggerations of his family plight, to his constant telling of stories that were bold faced lies, he came across as a sulking bore. He was as inconsistent as he was attention starved. He appeared to see himself as a tragic hero, yet his behavior was that of a manipulative self absorbed celebrity.
Those who have a rudimentary knowledge of the band and the infamous front man have probably heard about his resentment towards fame and his shirking of it. But what I learned from the biography was that in itself was a ploy. He needed, wanted and craved fame with a hunger that at times seemed to go against all he said and did. He courted the media, invited the scrutiny and then in the same breath denied the very thing he was doing.
The Curt Cobain I read about exaggerated every part of his early childhood, for what seemed to be yet another ploy to garner sympathy for his plight. The artists struggle so often witnessed through the self destruction of our most talented figures was a contrived, deliberate endeavor by Cobain. He wrote in his journals (the source of much of the biography) that he DECIDED to become a junkie. Perhaps at first it was a way to alleviate the obvious physical pain he had involving his Stomach and IBS. He self medicated then escaped into a drug fog that would stay with him for years. Did he admit his rabid use of “Heroine” ever? No, instead he rationalized it and when it took over his life and the SHAME he claimed to feel was not quite enough to keep him from maintaining any length of clean time. and not sticking that needle into his scarred arm.
He was a passive aggressive partner, never having the courage to confront any relationship that was not working. He “fired” band members by not calling them, never being able to have the decency of a man, to say that things were not working.
He had the audacity to say that he would one day join the club of Jimi, Janice and Jim who died at 27 by various means. He must then have thought himself a peer to these musicians and wanted nothing more than to imitate the fall of the greatest musical minds, so that he would then be lumped with them, as society inevitably did. Please note, Jimi died of an ACCIDENTAL overdose and was NEVER a heroine junkie. The rest all suffered similar fates. They did not stick a shotgun in their mouths and pull the trigger, while simultaneously overdosng on an lethal amount of Heroin. The others he wished to emulate, I might add did not have a wife and new baby that loved them and that were left forever wondering why Daddy ate his shotgun. They never left a note to loved ones, and certanly never to their FANS.
The note. If he was so disgusted by his fame, why apologize to the fans, why make any excuses at all? Manipulation at its best and worst. Let’s not forget that he left Courtney Love to take the brunt of the anger and responsibility for his suicide. Did anyone know she never used a needle before she met Curt? Somehow though, she was Yoko and blamed for all his torture. HA I say! That is the biggest lie ever because he was the one who almost destroyed her.
Alright then, so it is probably clear that I have some strong feelings about the man I thought was a sensitive soul too good for this earth. He was never any of that. What he was, a user, a whiner, a self indulgent dictator, insecure, fake, and orchestrating of all the events around him. He was a pathological LIAR and he did this all to make himself look good. Did he care what people said about him? More than anything else, it was his reason for being. Was he too sensitive for the world and therefore needed to SHOOT HIMSELF IN THE HEAD because it was better for Frances to live without a father. PLEASE, what a joke. He was however the most selfish celebrity I have ever had the chance to read about in detail. HE WAS A PUSSY, A FRAUD and DID NOT DESERVE THE CULT STATUS, FOR HE WAS NEVER DESERVING OF IT.
It is rare that I have such an intense response to an individual whose art I had admired. Reading about Jimi, John Lennon and others I came away with a greater love and understanding of these icons. But in the case of Nirvanas front man I come away disenchanted, angry and with the feeling I was led on. And in fact I was because when Curt lived he did everything to make himself the tragic hero; he knew he would never be. Shame on him for such manipulation. Shame on him for being so excruciatingly selfish as to destroy so many lives around him with no regard for any one else’s needs. Shame on me for believing the HYPE.
Copyright ©2007 Veronica Romm