What Would Kurt Cobain Do?

Kurt Cobain and Freddie Mercury are in my room.

Everyday I see these two dolls (action figures?) and I wonder, if Kurt Cobain or Freddie Mercury were alive today, would they like the music industry? What would they think of autotune? Or Katy Perry? I think about this so often that I’ve actually had dreams of the two of them. My niece says it’s because the dolls come alive at night. I just scared myself there for a bit.

Since I’ll never get to ask them these questions, I’ll just write them down and imagine what it would be like if Kurt and Freddie, along with John Lennon and Jeff Buckley, were still alive.

1. Kurt Cobain

This imagined scenario is the saddest for me, because this is one I really, really wish would come true. I remember vividly where I was when I first learned of Cobain’s death – in the car with my family, after a Sunday lunch out. A newspaper peddler was walking along the street and I saw the headline. Yes kids, this was way before the internet, or Twitter or Facebook. I was so shocked because I was just starting to find out for myself what music I liked, and I was beginning to be a fan of Nirvana.

Kurt Cobain would have been 47 this year. Can you imagine a 47-year old Cobain? I think that if he had lived, Nirvana would still have broken up at some point. He would need the time and space to deal with his demons. This would leave Dave Grohl free to still form the Foo Fighters. Cobain would just do some quiet solo stuff, but he and Grohl would still be friends. And then they would surprise everyone by doing a surprise reunion gig at Coachella! (I like to think Kurt would find Coachella cool enough.)  Nirvana would make 2 albums together – a studio one and a live album from the tour.  Then they would just separate quietly to work on their own projects.

Kurt will strongly dislike Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry.  And he would scoff at Idol and The Voice. He and Dave Grohl would agree wholeheartedly that instant and temporary fame through a television show is not the way to go. He probably wouldn’t make as many public appearances as Grohl, but he would be there for his Hall of Fame induction. And he would tear the roof off!

2. Freddie Mercury

If he had lived, Freddie Mercury would be 65 today. 65! But a 65-year old Freddie would still be as flamboyant as ever.  And he would still have the voice. I like to think that a full-on world tour will be too much, so Queen will just do a London residency.

Freddie would still be in the public eye and will definitely be a regular at red carpet events. I think he will be very vocal against autotune, because this is one man who never needed it.  Also, I think he would just love Lorde and The Killers.

3. John Lennon

Photo by Iain MacMillan.

He would just be doing experimental and transcendental music with Yoko Ono and working on post-modern art, whatever that means. And he definitely would not like any of today’s musicians. Lennon’s biography consistently describes him as “mean”. So I think it’s easy to assume that Lennon today would just be angry at everybody – especially McCartney. He would continue to think that McCartney’s music is trite and meaningless. He would scoff – scoff, I tell you! – at any hint of a Beatles reunion. And he definitely would not be there for the Beatles’ or his own induction into the Hall. He would rudely dismiss any reporter who would dare ask him a question about the Beatles.

4. Jeff Buckley

Ahh, the quiet Jeff Buckley.  I can admit that I don’t know a lot about Buckley.  All I know about him is what I hear in his songs.  And I think that he is too special to be tainted by the whole stardom thing. So in my imaginary world, he will turn down all requests for interviews and continue to play small, intimate venues. He won’t do any festivals either, and he will continue the fight against the mainstream.  He will win several Grammys, but he will not attend a single ceremony. And no one will be able to touch his genius.

This was probably just an exercise in romantic idealism, and one that made me sadder than ever.

So let me just say: thank you, sirs.