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Kurt Cobain & Jim Morrison - Poets of a generation

Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison were more than leads of great bands. They were heros of their generations. They had so many talents and each influenced a multitude of people. Aside from being singers and song writers Kurt was also a musician, guitarist and mass-media phenomenon, and Jim was also a poet, film maker and writer. Their groups also had about a twenty year span in between them. Even though it seems you could not compare them you actually can. Unlike fictional writers their material comes more from their life experiences and feelings. Even though it was different things that affected each one you can still see a pattern of similarity between their lives. They both experienced hardships in their lives and also a few unexpected turns. There was a massive amount of stress put on their lives because not only did they have to worry about what they wrote but also what they said. Live performances were constantly being taped, there were interviews and television shows and specials, newspaper and magazine articles, and also public appearances. To them this also had to become a form of artistry. The publicity and fame that comes to band is far greater than any that would come to just one single writer. This was also a factor in their writings and maybe even in their tragic deaths.

Influences for their writings came throughout there whole lives. Even as far back as childhood. Kurt was very damaged from his parents divorce. He once said "I had a really good childhood up until I was nine, then a classic case of divorce really affected me."(www.downer.com quotes) He also confesses " I used to try to make my head explode by holding my breath, thinking that if I blew up my head, they'd [mom and dad] be sorry."(www.downer.com quotes) In a song "Serve the Servants" from In Utero he talks about this by saying " I just want you to know that I/ Don't hate you anymore/ There is nothing I could say/ That I haven't said before/ Serve the servants-oh no/ That legendary divorce is such a bore" As for Jim, he grew up in a military family. His father was in the navy. They were constantly moving and Jim's dad was frequently not home. Jim seemed to grow a lack of respect for his family and authority. In an early fact sheet Jim claimed his family to be dead. One of the office managers of the recording company told him she didn't think that was nice and asked what his parents will think. Jim replied that if anyone asked they were dead. Jim never respected authority in fact he liked the farthest thing from it . He says in that same fact sheet,

I've always been attracted to ideas that were about revolt against authority. I like ideas about the breaking away or over throwing of established order. I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos- especially activity that seems to have no meaning. It seems to me to be the road toward freedom...

The song "Five to One" from Waiting For The Sun was about rebelling and taking over. Jim figured that by 1969 there would be five times as many people under twenty-one as would be over, so why not rebel. One of the most single important events in Jim's childhood occurred while traveling with his parents on a desert highway. They came upon an over turned truck, and saw dying and injured Pueblo Native Americans that had been thrown from the truck lying on the pavement. Jim began to cry. His dad stopped the car to make sure help was on the way, which it was. He got back in the car and drove away trying to comfort Jim as he still cried. Because of this experience Jim went and learned much about the Native Americans. Later Jim even claimed to his friends that he had been possessed by one of the dying Native Americans as he passed. The Native American influences were seen, as he often wore a concho belt and preformed ritulistic-type dance movements on stage.

Another influential period in their lives was their school years. Kurt did not like school at all. While in high school he started getting into music and finally seeing shows and doing what he always wanted to do. He states "I wanted to move to Seattle, sell my ass, and be a punk rocker, but I was too afraid."(www.downer.com quotes) Then finally in 1985 Kurt dropped out of high school. Kurt knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to write music and school was just getting in the way. He also hated the "high school culture" of the clicks and sport favoritism. In the next few years Kurt would meet Kirst Novoselic and together they would float through many bands until they finally stopped at Nirvana. Kurt wrote in the original biography of the band that "for the last nine months we have had the pleasure to take Chad-Drums under our wings and develop what we are now and always will be NIRVANA." The name for the band comes from the definition of the word, which is: 1.The final beatitude that transcends suffering, karma, and samsara and is sought especially in Buddhism through the extinction of desire and individual consciousness. 2.A place or state of oblivion to care, pain or external reality. The Doors seemed to be searching for nirvana too. In a New York Times article "The Doors seek Nirvana" by Alfred G. Aronowitz it was said that Jim's campaign motto was "Nirvana now." Jim's education on the other hand was complete, he graduated from UCLA. His aspirations were always to be a writer, poet, or a film maker. He never really thought he would become such a famous singer. Jim also read a lot. His heroes were artist and writers. He even, uh, borrowed a few lines from William Blake: "some are born to sweet delight/ some are born to the endless night." William Blake also said " when the doors of perception are cleansed man will see things as they truly are, infinite." The Doors found this statement quoted in Aldous Hugely The Doors of Perception which is where the groups name comes from. Also the style of the French symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud would influence the form of Jim's short prose poems. In the book No One Here Gets Out Alive Danny Sugerman list a number of artist and then states

...the mad ones, the doomed ones, the writers, poets, and painters, the artist stubbornly resistant to authority and insistent on being loyal to their true nature, at any coast - this was the lineage with whom Jim most passionately identified, and it was to their standard he aspired. To be a poet, to be an artist, meant more than writing or painting or singing; it meant having a vision and courage to see that vision through, despite any opposition. What didn't kill you made you stronger, and if you had what it took you were rare and wondrous, and if you didn't it couldn't be faked.(p.xiii)

Kurt once said "That's what music is entertainment. The more you put yourself into it, the more of you comes out in it."(www.downer.com quotes) Danny Sugarman explained that one of Jim's tricks was

...the use of pauses during performances- sometimes between songs, sometimes between lines, sometimes between syllables. Morrison claimed that these silences could draw out the hostility and bring the group (or himself) and the audience closer together. (The Doors The Illustrated History p.Introduction)

Another issue in their lives were stereotypes, and cover-ups. Kurt wrote many of his songs about stereotypes and people he did not like. Kurt once proclaimed "I've always had a problem with the average macho man- they've always been a thereat to me."(www.downer.com quotes) This is defiantly shown in his work for the songs "Mr. Moustache","Territorial Pissings", and "Very Ape" all speak on this subject. Mr. Moustache" is also the name of one of his early comics portraying to the same topic. Another song "Scoff" is directed towards the people who didn't believe in Kurt's musical aspirations. The song "Big Cheese" is written about an agent and the pressures he put on the band. Jim also had strong feelings towards agents. In the poem "As I Look Back" from Wilderness Jim writes "The horror of business/ The Problem of Money/ guilt/ do I deserve it?/ The Meeting/ Rid of Managers & agents/ After 4 yrs. I'm left w/a/ mind like a fuzzy hammer" Two songs Kurt wrote about apathy are "Breed" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" The song "Stay Away" is an attack on conformist cliques. The song "School" tells about the Seattle Scene and how the bands seem to resemble high school cliques. In Kurts song "Come as You Are" he talks about contradictions on how we act versus how we think society thinks we should act. Kurt and Jim both thought drugs and alcohol worked just fine to help with issues like this. Jim said that he went through a period when he drank because there was a lot of pressure put on him and he couldn't cope. Jim also explained that he liked drinking because "It loosens people up and stimulates conversation."(No One Here Gets Out Alive by Danny Sugarman and Jerry Hopkins p.xiv) Jim also explained to Danny "Drinking made life tolerable; it numbed the pain and enabled him to unlock worlds the pain otherwise overrode, blocked, and blanketed. (The Doors The illustrated History p.341) Jim wrote in "As I Look Back" that "Being drunk is a good disguise./ I drink so I/ can talk to assholes./ This includes me."(Wilderness) Kurt also felt drugs made living life sometimes more bearable. In Kurts suicide note he says "I'm too sensitive. I need to be slightly numb in order to regain the enthusiasm I once had as a child" Deep down Kurt knew drugs were bad. After his daughter was born he told a reporter "I can't tell you how much my attitude has changed since we've got Frances. I don't want my daughter growing up with people telling her that her parents were junkies."(www.downer.com quotes) He also said that "Drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your memory and your self-respect and everything that goes along with with[sic] your self esteem."(www.downer.com quotes) Another cover up Kurt thought of was ignorance. Kurt thought there was a certain care-free happiness involved in being dumb. In his song titled "Dumb" from In Utero he writes "I'm not like them/ But I can pretend/ The sun is gone/ But I have a light/ The day is done/ But I'm having fun/ I think I'm dumb/ Or maybe just happy"

Both bands reached success extremely fast. They faced many problems from this. Suddenly Kurt and Jim became images which everyone wanted them to uphold. They couldn't live with the images any longer. Kurt was breaking down. He is said as not having " the emotional structure to support the incredible weight of millions of people's expectations." In a Spin article Bob Guccione Jr. explains how Kurt "genuinely hated the success because he realized, with horror when he reached it, that it involved being an image other people wanted, no longer what he wanted." Bob Guccione Jr. also explains that

Every artist wants to matter as much as they possibly can, but most take so long to get to that position that they develop their sense of self and perspective on the way.

Rock stars like Kurt are catapulted to positions of, frankly, exaggerated importance so quickly that they can no more handle themselves perfectly tan an astronaut can calmly get out of his seat and walk around while his spaceship is being propelled into the sky. Jim was also tormented. The Doors wanted to be taken seriously, and this reflected in their interviews. In Jim's biography Danny Sugarman says "One of the main reasons Jim went to Paris was he could no longer live up to the mythology he himself had helped create. Because jim Morrison didn't want to be a god. Jim Morrison wanted to be a poet." I believe this stress inside of them is what finally lead to their deaths.

In conclusion we realize that Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison's lives are in fact very similar. Their great talents lead them quickly to stardom. And this stardom and their existing problems finally lead to their deaths. Their problems with drug abuse didn't help the others it was just another added problem that was also a great factor. They helped change the music world forever with their new styles and techniques. When asked about his music Kurt explained "I was looking for something a lot heavier, yet melodic at the same time. Something different from heavy metal, a different attitude."(www.downer.com quotes) Once Jim responded about his poetry by saying "If my poetry aims to achieve anything, it's to deliver people from the limited ways in which they see and feel."(No one Gets Out Alive by Danny Sugarman & Jerry Hopkins p.357) They will have a lasting impact on our society and will be forever memorialized.




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