Music History An Inside Look At Kurt Cobain's Journals  

Erin McCann
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Kurt Cobain's words live on years after his passing, and not only through Nirvana's music. His friends and family salvaged roughly 20 notebooks that he once used to record lyrics, lists, and his inner thoughts, from growing up to becoming a famous rock star. Cobain's estate - which comprises his widow, Courtney Love, and their child, Frances Bean - compiled his journals into a book that was published in 2012, allegedly generating around $4 million.

Music fans consider Nirvana one of the best bands of all time, thanks to albums like Nevermind and Nirvana's MTV Unplugged performance. Because the musician included honest thoughts and feelings in his journals, facts about Cobain are more accessible to fans than ever. The book provides a peek into a more dynamic version of the artist that the public did not get to witness during Nirvana's heyday. Cobain's journals allow his genuine musings to reach society without fear of misinterpretation.

To those concerned about invading Cobain's privacy: Nirvana frontman biographer, Charles R. Cross, claims the musician kept his journals out in the open at his home, encouraging visitors to read them. And now, thanks to the published book, so can everyone else. 

He Drew Wacky Comics is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list An Inside Look At Kurt Cobain's Journals
Photo: Internet Archive/CC0 1.0

He Drew Wacky Comics

Cobain had artistic talents beyond music. His classmates remember him drawing monsters. As he grew older, Cobain began painting - including the piece Nirvana used as the cover for their 1992 compilation album. His journals brim with hand-drawn comics, as well as pasted and altered graphics. Cobain had a vivid imagination, as evident by his journals' sometimes grotesque sketches.

Some of Cobain's comics tell stories of large-mouthed people known as the Smileys who deal with personal turmoil. Cobain used comic format to explore his relationship with his father, with whom he lived after his parents divorced. 

Reproduction Of Page 204 Is Forbidden

Though much of Cobain's journals allude to dark subjects, page 204 is - according to Courtney Love - "painfully revealing" of the artist's emaciated self-image. Cobain had cut out a comically muscular picture of his head singing one of his most famous lyrics; then he drew an abnormally thin frame to support it.

The page also includes the following lines from Alicia Ostriker's "A Young Woman, a Tree:" 

Passing that fiery tree - if only she could

Be making love,

Be making poetry,

Be exploding, be speeding through the universe

Like a photon, like a shower

Of yellow blazes - 

Due to the page's sensitive content, the publishers forbid reporters and critics from reproducing it. 

He Wrote Out 'Six Commandments' For Living

Many remember Cobain as a sensitive artist - someone who would leave the room during a commercial about world hunger. He denied his sensitivity, however, writing that he was not a "frail, fragile, soft-spoken, narcoleptic, neurotic, little pissant."

Despite this claim, he wrote a list of personal values often referred to as Cobain's six commandments

1. Don't r*pe

2. Don't be prejudice

3. Don't be sexist

4. Love your children

5. Love your neighbor

6. Love yourself

He also noted that he wouldn't let his "opinions obstruct the aforementioned list." 

He Listed His Favorite Bands And Albums

Cobain listened to an eclectic selection of music, including pop bands like the Beatles and punk groups like the Sex Pistols. Punk is mostly what shaped his interest in music, though he later reportedly grew disillusioned with the scene. 

He listed his favorite bands in one section of his journal, including the Stooges, the Pixies, and the Vaselines. Cobain ranked and re-ranked his favorite albums over the years - it appeared he was as interested in listening to music as he was in playing it.