Before I write anything, I want to say that I am a die-hard Nirvana fan from way back. Being fair, when they released their first album “Bleach” in 1989, I was only 9 years old. Which means, I hadn’t hit puberty yet, I had no inclination whatsoever to “rebel” against anything or anybody, and while I did like seeing their videos on MTV when “Nevermind” came out in 1991, I didn’t get big into them until after 1993’s “In Utero” and 1994’s “MTV Unplugged In New York” were out.

And as any Nirvana fan (or literally anyone with an internet connection) can tell you, The “Unplugged” album was released November 1, 1994, which was about 7 months after Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain took his own life.

I didn’t really get into them until after Kurt killed himself. It wasn’t morbid curiosity as much as it was simply that Nirvana was all over MTV all the time for at least a year or two after Kurt’s death.

I mean, yeah, some of it probably was morbid curiosity. But this post-suicide mass-media blitz of Nirvana coincided with me first starting to take an interest in playing the guitar. I was 14 when Kurt killed himself, and that was also right around when I first started sneaking out my stepdad’s Martin and messing with it.

And being that Nirvana’s last album was played with (mostly) acoustic instruments, and furthermore being that Kurt was playing a Martin acoustic-electric in that show, well, sitting in the living room with my stepdad’s Martin and watching Kurt’s hands to see if they matched up with my tab book took on a special significance to me. I honestly get teary-eyed just thinking about it.

Nirvana was an awesome band. Their music was loud, kickass, and completely devoid of fakery and pretension. They got up on stage and rocked, and they were damn good at it.

And Kurt Cobain’s willingness to share the “Unplugged” stage with Kurt and Cris Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets was also super badass and cool, because it introduced me to an awesome band that MTV ignored, for the most part.

Kurt’s suggestions

Had to stop and wipe away tears for a second, sorry.

Kurt talked about other bands he liked in interviews, as well as liner notes of albums. He never came across as a rock star, he was just a dude that liked listening to and playing music. The Vaselines were another of Kurt’s favorite bands, and like the Meat Puppets, they became one of my favorite bands too.

And I don’t know if I should keep writing this, because it’s sort of an angry reaction to the film “Montage Of Heck” that I finally watched a few days ago (August 7, 2022) about 7 years after it was released.

Out of all the Nirvana documentaries I have seen, I hate “Montage Of Heck” the least. I hate it less than the others because it’s more about Kurt and Nirvana’s music, and less about trying to point fingers at Courtney Love and blame her for his death.

But I still hate it, and I don’t recommend it. What I recommend is that if you’re interested in Nirvana’s music, you should listen to Nirvana’s music. Because their music kicked ass.

And it makes me sad, really, that nowadays kids (and/or adults) who are learning guitar are more likely to see documentaries about Nirvana, as opposed to watching them play on TV and trying to play along at home.

During “Montage Of Heck,” there’s an old interview with Nirvana where the interviewer asks the band to explain what their music means, and I think all 3 band members basically replied that it means different things to different people, and that’s fine. They suggested that people just listen to the music and react to the music, instead of sticking a camera in their face and asking them questions about it.

There are multiple times when Kurt (and others) express their distaste for rock journalists. And it wasn’t just because those journalists were writing about unpleasant things in Kurt’s personal life. Kurt and the rest of them disliked getting praise heaped upon them, calling them rock stars or the “voice of a generation” and all that bullshit.

Nirvana – whether you like their music or not (and it does not matter one iota to me if you don’t) – were anti-bullshit.

And that’s why I am writing this. Because “Montage Of Heck” misses some fairly obvious “truths” about Kurt as well as Nirvana, and in the spirit of Kurt and Nirvana’s zero-bullshit approach to everything, as a huge fan of the band, I feel I would be letting them down by not pointing this stuff out. Even though what I am about to write isn’t all glowing praise.

I want to make something clear about these “4 Ignoble Truths” I am about to lay out here: they are not meant to be a stain on Kurt Cobain’s legacy, or on Nirvana’s legacy.

All the bullshit documentaries are a way bigger stain on that than this little blog post could ever be, in my opinion. If there’s ever another Nirvana documentary, it should be concert footage, with maybe a backstage interview or two.

Leave all the other bullshit out, including computer animated comic strips of scribbles stolen from a dead man’s private journals.

Anyway, the reason I decided to call this post “4 Ignoble Truths” is because (as you may or may not know), “Nirvana” is a term borrowed from Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

Here’s the definition of “nirvana” that Google just gave me, when I searched for “nirvana definition”:




(in Buddhism) a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents the final goal of Buddhism.

I don’t think Kurt was a Buddhist. I’m not one either. But I would be lying if I said Buddhist philosophy has had no impact on my life, because honestly the effect has been pretty profound.

But getting back to the point, if Kurt had any sort of philosophical reasons for naming his band Nirvana, I think it might have been because (at least when the band was first getting started), he felt that transcendence when he was playing music, and all of the other bad stuff in his life was gone while he was playing music.

For him, playing music produced a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and all sorts of good stuff like that.

Or maybe not. It’s a cool name for a band, whether there was any thought put into it or not.

But since “nirvana” is a Buddhist term, and since there are “4 Noble Truths” of Buddhism, “4 Ignoble Truths” seemed like a good enough way to frame this blog post.

Here are the 4 Noble Truths, simplified somewhat:

1. The truth of suffering (all beings suffer)
2. The truth of the origin of suffering (there is a reason all beings suffer)
3. The truth of the end of suffering
4. The truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering.

For Kurt, I think that maybe music was the path that led away from suffering. But that’s just me shooting off at the mouth.

On with the show:


1. Kurt Cobain’s infamous stomach problems were a direct result of heroin use.

The first song I ever learned to play on guitar was “Pennyroyal Tea.” The chorus of it goes:

I sit and drink Pennyroyal Tea
Distill the life that’s inside of me

And so on. Back when I was 14 or 15, sitting in the living room, watching Nirvana play this song on the VHS tapes I recorded from MTV, trying to match my fretting hand to what Kurt was doing, comparing differences between what he was doing and what was in the Unplugged tab book, as well as differences between the Unplugged tab book and the In Utero tab book, I got to wondering what the hell “Pennyroyal Tea” even was.

And maybe I read this in Rolling Stone or Guitar World or something like that, or maybe I looked it up on the internet at school (the internet not being nearly as ubiquitous back then as it is now), but somewhere I read or heard Kurt say that Pennyroyal Tea was something he drank to deal with the stomach problems he had basically all the time.

I remember reading about this back then, also: Kurt went to see all kinds of doctors about his stomach problems, and none of them ever found anything other than minor irritation in his stomach.

This was mentioned in “Montage Of Heck” as well.

And I’m not speaking from direct experience here, but I myself have personally witnessed healthy adults – for whom an alcohol hangover is no big deal – knocked on their asses, calling in sick to work with stomach problems after doing tiny amounts of recreational opiates.

Opiates cause stomach problems. Every doctor knows this, every opiate addict knows this, everyone who has seen the movie “Trainspotting” knows this.

The fact that opiates cause stomach problems is, for all intents and purposes, common knowledge.

But in the case of Kurt Cobain, every journalist and documentarian (and fan) in the damn world seems to have forgotten this.

When Kurt said things like “I started taking heroin, because it’s the only thing that cured my stomach problems,” there’s some sort of collective blindness that prevents basically everyone from recognizing that the heroin was CAUSING the stomach problems.

Doctors couldn’t find ANYTHING wrong with his stomach, other than mild irritation.

And here we have to ask ourselves: did Kurt suffer from some unknown, never-before-seen and totally unique stomach condition?

Or was his stomach condition the same pain and discomfort every single opiate addict EVER has felt?

Which is the more likely explanation?

If it sounds like I am trying to demonize Kurt for being addicted to heroin, I am most certainly not.

I am just calling “bullshit” on the idea that his stomach problems were unique in any way, because they weren’t. They were a direct result of his heroin use, and maybe on some level he knew that, and maybe on some level everybody else has always known that.

But they don’t talk about it in documentaries, and I have never seen anyone in any interview about him say that.

Addiction is a disease, not only because it physically ruins a person’s body over time. It’s also a mental disease, because it causes the victim to assign blame for every negative outcome to everything (and everyone) except the addiction.

Kurt took heroin and had stomach pains afterward. Then he took some more heroin and the stomach pain went away temporarily.

But he never made the connection that heroin was the reason he had stomach pain to begin with.

At some point in “Montage Of Heck,” an interviewer even asks Kurt whether the stomach problems helped inspire his music and art, and he said that it probably did.

And if that isn’t denial, I don’t know what denial would look like.

In “Montage Of Heck,” Kurt’s former girlfriend Tracy Marander talks about how she had heard that Kurt had started using heroin while they were still together, but that he hid it from her initially.

And incidentally, it was around this time when he started having stomach problems. Anyway, this is a good enough time as any to move on to Ignoble Truth #2:

2. Kurt Cobain exploited women.

Get mad.

No, really, get mad.

After you get mad at me for saying this about Kurt, somebody who created music that you and I both love and have strong emotional attachments to, watch “Montage Of Heck” again.

Pay extra close attention to the part where he goes over to the mentally challenged girl’s house and has sex with her.

Notice how when he’s talking about his friends that went to her house to steal liquor, they’re all presented as bad guys, and he was just along for the ride.

But then, when he goes over there alone and has sex with her, he never feels guilty about it at all, at least not in what he wrote about it in private journals.

In those journals, he talks about being made fun of at school for it. He talks about how he was the victim, not her.

If you’re still able to watch that shit without throwing up, find the part where his former girlfriend Tracy Marander talks about how she supported him completely for quite some time, while he sat around playing his guitar and/or painting.

I understand, more than you will ever know: if you don’t have time to create, you can’t create. And sure, the world owes Tracy Marander a debt of gratitude for being Kurt’s patron/girlfriend, while he wrote songs and got his band together.

But the world also needs to remember that Kurt ditched her like she was a used Kleenex when he found somebody he liked better. With no remorse or regret.

While Kurt was drawing “Mr. Moustache” in his notebook, talking about how overly masculine “jock”-type men were teaching boys how to exploit women, he was himself actively exploiting Tracy Marander. Mr. Moustache taught him quite well.

It’s not pleasant to think about, but there it is.

Incidentally, around the time Kurt broke up with Tracy, he also fired Chad Channing, Nirvana’s drummer on their first album “Bleach.”

Which brings me to Ignoble Truth #3:

3. Dave Grohl is the reason Nirvana made it big.

For the record, I don’t think Dave Grohl would ever say that, or even necessarily think it.

But without his aggressive and complex drumming, “Nevermind” would not have happened.

Don’t believe me? Listen to “In Bloom.”

If you’ve never played with a drummer (or a drum machine, for that matter), you might not know this, but when there’s a beat being played, musical ideas occur to you that you would never have had without the beat.

To be clear: I am not a rock star, or even an especially good guitarist. But I have had the privilege of playing with some pretty talented drummers here and there in my life, and I can only describe the experience as transcendent.

The drummer starts playing a beat, your body starts to involuntarily twitch around and move because of the beat, and you find places to put notes and chords that sound amazing, even if what you’re playing on guitar (or bass) doesn’t amount to much.

But you find that sweet spot to strum a chord, and that makes the drummer add something else too. And then you find something else simple to add because of what they just added, and then they add something else, and the next thing you know you’re playing the coolest shit you’ve ever played in your life, even though it’s just a chord or two.

Listen to “In Bloom.” Without Dave Grohl, that song would sound like shit. I would go as far as to say that without Dave Grohl, that song would not have ever been written.

And as I mentioned, I don’t think Dave would ever try to claim that he was the reason for Nirvana’s commercial breakthrough.

But I am here to tell you: he absolutely was the reason they made it big. Just like John Bonham was the reason Led Zeppelin made it big, just like Neil Peart was the reason Rush made it big, just like Danny Carey was the reason Tool made it big, the list goes on and on.

People who don’t actually play music – like many of the rock journalists Nirvana hated – always look at the guy who’s singing and give him all the credit. But I am here to tell you: without a solid drummer, your favorite rock band would suck ass.

And that includes Nirvana. Dave Grohl’s drumming took them from playing shitty underground clubs to playing stadiums. Like it or not, it’s the truth.

And finally, Ignoble Truth #4

4. Courtney Love is not responsible for Kurt Cobain’s suicide.

“Montage Of Heck” doesn’t say that she was, to be fair to that documentary, which like I said I hate the least out of all of the Nirvana documentaries I have seen.

But the last thing that’s talked about is how Courtney almost cheated on Kurt in Rome, right before he swallowed a bunch of Rohypnol and almost died.

“Montage Of Heck” just told what happened, from Courtney’s point of view. Unlike at least a couple documentaries that accuse her of actually murdering him, or hiring somebody to.

And I hate those documentaries way more than “Montage Of Heck,” because they’re all based on bullshit.

And the time in Rome, when Kurt couldn’t get any heroin and got mad at Courtney for talking to some other guy (or whatever “almost cheated on him” means), that wasn’t the first time Kurt tried to kill himself.

In fact, “Montage Of Heck” tells about once when Kurt got good and stoned and sat on the train tracks near his house, hoping a train would hit him. And the only reason the train didn’t hit him is because it was on the next track over from where Kurt was sitting.

There were two train tracks laid out side by side. Kurt sat on one, hoping to get hit, and the next train that went through there was on the other track.

Which means, the only reason Nirvana ever existed is because Kurt Cobain, as a teenager, sat on the wrong train track for his suicide attempt.

So don’t try and tell me Courtney Love hired somebody to stage his suicide. Don’t try to tell me she was faking, when she was squalling on MTV reading his suicide note.

She wasn’t faking, and she didn’t have him killed.

He killed himself. He had tried to do it multiple times before.

Look, I get it. You don’t want to believe that somebody you admire disliked themselves enough to stick a shotgun in his mouth and pull the trigger.

Nobody wants to believe it, when that sort of thing happens.

But it happens all the time. People get so mixed up emotionally that the only way they see out is death.

And if you or someone you know feels that way, you should know that you’re not alone. There are people who can help you start seeing things more clearly.

There’s a number you can call: 988.

Here’s an NPR story about it.

If you’re struggling, just remember, you can make your life better if you try. And there are people on call all the time, ready to help you remember how to be happy again.

To sum up, I am and always will be a die-hard Nirvana fan. For my money, there has never been a more kickass band, before or since.

But as Aunt Esther always said, “The truth will set you free.”

Here’s to being free. 🙂


They ought to give me the Wurlitzer prize
For all the silver I let slide down the slot
Playing those songs sung blue
To help me remember you
I don’t want to get over you

That’s the chorus to “The Wurlitzer Prize (I Don’t Want To Get Over You)” by Waylon Jennings, written by Chips Moman and Bobby Emmons. The song is from the 1978 album “Waylon & Willie,” Willie of course being Willie Nelson.

The song is from the point of view of someone who is holding on to a relationship that has ended. The song doesn’t say specifically how the relationship ended, it’s just over, and the singer doesn’t want it to be over.

So, he (or she, Kacey Musgraves did a version of the song a few years back) goes to places he went with his old flame, back when they were still together. He plays sad songs on the jukebox (“Wurlitzer” is a brand of jukebox) and sits there remembering the good times, feeling sorry for himself and crying into his beer.

To be clear: this is one of my favorite songs, from any genre. I’m not poking fun at it, I am just telling you what it’s about.

I like the song because it’s catchy, it’s fun to sing along with, and it’s not that hard to play on the guitar. And at just over 2 minutes long, whoever happens to be around when I’m playing and singing it won’t have to endure the torture of listening to me sing for very long, ha ha.

I also like it because I can relate to it. Years and years ago, I had a relationship end that I didn’t want to end. But it ended anyway, and I was sad about it.

I moved on then, many long years ago, but then something terrible happened. And “terrible” doesn’t even begin to describe what happened. There isn’t a word or series of words that can describe how awful this was: she committed suicide.

The aftereffects of that event haunt me to this day. I mean, it was 14 years ago now, and here I am blogging about it. It’s not something that gets me down or anything nowadays, but I do still think about it.

Here’s a visual analogy: imagine that my mind is a swimming pool, and the waves that gently reverberate back and forth across the water are my thoughts.

Now imagine that someone dropped a boulder into the middle of that pool, from a very great height: there’s such a huge splash that the pool is now half empty, and the water that’s still in there is crashing violently against the sides of the pool.

Over the years, I tried to heft the boulder out of the pool (so to speak) but it kept falling back in, creating more waves.

Now, all these years later, the boulder is still there, on the bottom of the pool. The pool itself has been refilled, and somehow the boulder has shrunk quite a bit. And sometimes when I am treading water in the pool (so to speak) I might stump my toe on the boulder’s jagged edges. And when I do that, it hurts pretty damn bad.

That’s how it is, all these years later. And either the pool is getting deeper or the boulder is still shrinking, because I don’t stump my toe on it nearly as often now.

Here’s how all this relates to the song quoted at the beginning of this post: for a good long while after this huge jagged boulder was dropped into the swimming pool of my mind, I would periodically swim out to the boulder and kick it on purpose.

So to speak.

I would do what the singer of the song is doing, except in my case there was no jukebox. I just used my phone or computer to listen to sad songs and cry into my beer.

I would sit there and get drunk, and play a certain set of songs that reminded me of the event, and just cry and cry and cry.

To be clear: I am not bragging about this. But I don’t feel particularly ashamed of it either, at least not anymore.

I am writing this to tell you that late one night, if memory serves on a work night, meaning I had to work the next morning, I found myself with my head down on my computer desk, forehead resting on my crossed hands, which were wet from all the tears, snot pouring out of my nose, silently sobbing, feeling horrible, head starting to hurt…

And I realized: I was enjoying this.

To be clear, there were times when I honestly believe that I needed to do that. I needed to just sit down and cry about it for a while. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I can tell you from experience: repressing negative emotions only makes things worse, in almost any situation.

But I went way past the point of it being healthy. The first few times I did that – stay up late listening to sad songs, drinking my face off, and crying like a baby, I mean – it was cathartic. The last few times, it was no longer cathartic, it was just me crying and snotting all over the place, clinging to the strong emotions it made me feel.

And maybe someday I will be able to explain what I mean more clearly, but for today I will just say that this one night (which was several years ago now) I realized that on some level, I was making myself feel horrible for the simple reason that I enjoyed it.

And when I realized that I was enjoying this strange torture I was putting myself through, I couldn’t enjoy it anymore.

It wasn’t that I became ashamed of what I was doing. I was ashamed of it already, that’s why I only did it late at night, by myself.

What happened was, I became conscious of the fact that I was enjoying it.

There was nobody making me do that. There was no rational reason to do that. Going back to the swimming pool analogy, the jagged boulder of the suicide was underwater, in the deep end of the pool, sticking up just enough so I might accidentally stub my toe on it every now and then.

And entirely of my own volition, on my own, with nobody telling me to do this, I would swim out to the middle of the deep end and kick that jagged boulder as hard as I could. Then I would sit on the edge of the pool, crying because my toe hurt.

To be clear, grief is a much more serious thing than stumping a toe. And I am not writing this to make anyone feel guilty about their grief.

I am writing this because somewhere out there in internet land, there might be somebody out there doing what I used to do, swimming out to the deep end of their pool and kicking the boulder (or boulders) that sit on the bottom.

And I just wanted to tell you: you don’t have to do that.

Thank you for reading. 🙂


I dunno why, but the song “Bleeding Love” popped into my head yesterday, so I found the chords on the internet and figured out the vocal melody.

And I thought it would be cool if I played it while video-ing my TV as I was watching Season 8, Episode 2 of “The X-Files,” an episode I had never seen before.

And the part of the vocal melody that corresponds to “you cut me open and I/keep bleeding, I keep keep bleeding love” ended up coming at just the right time.

I didn’t plan it that way, it just came out that way.


This is a good album for working on the computer, or house cleaning, or what have you.

It’s actually 4 albums put together. (Go here for more info.)

I have read reviews of Gas albums that say it sounds like there’s a party happening next door, and you can hear dance music thumping through the wall. You weren’t invited to the party (this one review read) but you don’t really mind, because the music sounds soothing in some bizarre way.

The review I read (possibly from the Wikipedia page linked to above) made a similar comparison to that one, at least. 🙂

My short review of Gas in general is that it comes at your ears like a cloud of pulsating noise, but if you listen long enough — and in the right way, sort of like an aural magic eye (magic ear?), in like a half-paying attention, half-ignoring sort of way; talking like a few minutes here — details start to emerge from the cloud, rhythmic bits of fuzz that may or may not have once been a recording of a violin or something start to creep out, and anyways if you’re looking for something semi-relaxing to help you tune out the world while you work on a computer (or whatever), Gas is something you should check out.


I’ve shied away from writing about music on this blog, for the most part… I mean I’ve (mostly) outgrown the “fanboy” aspect of being a music fan. I mean, sure, I like to peruse Wikipedia articles and whatnot about musicians I find on YouTube and get recommended by friends, and occasionally even read an interview or two…

But I don’t really want to meet any of them, if that makes sense. I would rather not meet them, to be perfectly honest.

Because it isn’t them that I even like most of the time. What I like is the music they create.

Although there are exceptions. Richard D. James aka Aphex Twin (aka AFX, aka the Tuss, aka Polygon Window, aka a bunch of other stuff) has done some pretty interesting interviews. For example, once when asked about what he thought of his fans, he only gave “I hate them” as his reply.

Which, as a fan, and as an amateur/occasional semi-pro musician myself – I have actually made money by playing music, is what I am saying here; not much, but money all the same – I can’t help but find endearing.

Doesn’t especially make me want to hang out with the fellow, but I can appreciate where he’s coming from, I think. What I interpret that as (I mean besides him “taking the piss” to a degree, as well as creating a mystique around himself and whatnot) is that at the end of the day, no matter how many critics praise his work, no matter how many other musicians adore his stuff and want to work with him (his comments about Radiohead are also hilarious; fyi I am also a pretty big Radiohead fan), no matter how many angsty teens wear his t-shirts and hoodies (people still do that, I assume; I am trying to make a point, sorry for being florid), he is not creating music because he thinks that’s what all those people are going to like. He is creating the music that he himself wants to create, using the instruments (and computers, sequencers, drum machines, etc.) he has on hand.

THAT is something I can appreciate, even if I don’t particularly care for an artist’s music. (I am a pretty huge fan of James’ music, fyi.)

But see? I’ve just been jabbering about nonsense. I haven’t even been writing about music.

That’s why I shy away from this sort of thing.

At any rate, here’s “Wet Land” by Hiroshi Yoshimura. It’s what I was listening to while I typed this:

Here’s an AFX album/2 eps put together that’s pretty sweet, also: