It has now been 19 years since Kurt Cobain’s suicide in April, 1994, and I have recently, and coincidentally, finished reading former Seattle rag (the Rocket) journalist Charles R. Cross’s biography on Cobain. In Heavier Than Heaven (2001), the title of the book, Cross takes the reader closer to Kurt than anyone else has been able to. His approach is not neo-journalistic, yet his technique is none the less more journalistic than that of the typical biography. He weaves together a well put together, linear and matter-of-fact chronology. The story Cross tells is obviously an achievement of Orwellian infiltration into Kurt’s life, yet he does so in a non-participatory way, like Truman Capote. The narration is more George Orwell’s Wigan Pier (the first part) than Capote’s In Cold Blood, in the sense of reportage, but it is more Capote in terms of objective narration, voice, tone and perspective.
Cross provides an interesting insight into who Kurt Cobain was and what his overall state of being throughout the course of his entire life was; what his relationship with his wife Courtney Love was like — with his band mates, his friends, his family, his daughter; what the meanings behind a good deal of the messages crocheted into his song lyrics meant ; as well as unveiling untold catastrophes involving his addiction to heroin — the Something in the Way.
Nirvana was the leader of a revolution, and what can be obtained from it is an understanding of how revolutions eventually, once powerful and established, crumble if their head have nodding captains pertaining to the helm.
Kurt was forever changed by his parents “legendary divorce,” though he unfortunately was a junkie before he regained, rediscovered and expanded things like his family, his fame — his what were seemingly redemptive acquisitions that conditioned his mentality. But his addiction had already taken the role of care tender, so his medicine became an enemy to the particulars, like his love for his daughter Frances Bean, that would have meant — did mean — more to him than anything else — and it seems as though he felt that it was far too late for him to turn back — thus, he contained the notion that he could not provide the life for her he wanted to.
This understanding was just another sense of failure for Kurt, and his stillborn inner child forever made him incapable of accepting the terms of adulthood. He was, leading up to the time of his death, a morbidly obese man traveling at high altitudes in a hot air balloon with low fuel for keeping the flame lit. The anti-climatic irony vividly sensed in Heavier Than Heaven, is that Kurt got everything he wanted after he was no longer in any condition to control it. Like the “heads” of the French Revolution, he was a victim of his own enlightenment.