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Cobain Was Misunderstood

In your “Letters on Kurt Cobain” (Calendar, April 16), you printed comments from several readers who didn’t see Kurt Cobain for who he was--someone with a lack of desire to be anything other than just a musician to his listeners.

Letter writer B. Dirk Yarborough denigrates Cobain as an ineffectual songwriter who wrote “cool songs” but who was not worthy of being spoken of in the same breath as Bob Dylan and John Lennon. Both Dylan and Lennon would have disagreed with Yarborough, who doesn’t understand that Cobain never thought of himself as a rock hero or an icon, but he obviously very reluctantly did affect a generation and would have continued to do so had he been able to handle his success.

Then Mr. Yarborough reveals his age and generation (obviously not Cobain’s), by sarcastically contrasting the broad “difference” between Cobain’s influence against Lennon’s and Dylan’s, by making Cobain be “Michael Tuck” to Walter Cronkite, and the “Shannen Doherty” to Bette Davis and Ava Gardner.

Here’s a more fitting analogy: To print Yarborough’s comments on Kurt Cobain would have been like having Richard Nixon discuss the reasons why Jimi Hendrix didn’t deserve to be symbolized as a revolutionary guitar hero.

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Reader Jeff Le Pere says, “Being 24 years old, I am tired of Cobain being held up for the spokesman for my generation.” Guess what, Jeff? Kurt was tired, too, of being branded with that label--to the point of suicide. And for Le Pere to call Kurt selfish and a coward for his suicide indicates his lack of understanding about the physical and emotional reasons for the tremendous anguish Cobain endured in the first place.

How do you judge a young man who goes from being a homeless musician to a millionaire almost overnight and who writes in his suicide note, “I have tried everything . . . to appreciate it and I do, but it’s not enough. I still can’t get out of the frustration, the guilt and the empathy I have for everybody”?

Cobain was a poet who reached the alienated, the lonely.

Anyone who possesses an open mind to new music and who has any type of sensitivity and knowledge on how bad life really can be for some people will easily see and respect Kurt Cobain’s honesty toward his music and his fans.

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It’s ludicrous for The Times to print letters from shielded, pampered and older Orange County citizens about what Cobain was, is and forever will be to the listener who felt his pain through his music.

Why listen to the talk of those who don’t walk the walk?

The real issue will continue to be one thing only--the tragedy of Kurt Cobain’s inability to see himself as somebody special and the fatal path his insecurity pushed him toward.

STEPHEN DOUGLAS

Corona del Mar


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