It has been said on numerous occasions that Kurt Cobain was the voice of my generation, even though most people couldn't really ever understand what the fuck he was saying.
He could turn three muted, choppy chords and some angst-driven vocals into catchy tunes that found an awkward home in Billboard top-100 charts and confused teenagers' CD collections, alike. True, Cobain had an impeccable ear for melody, a style so beautifully simplistic in nature that his songs could stay stuck in your head for weeks, and a musical vision so unique that he spawned an entirely new music genre (a style that many sub-par bands still attempt to emulate very, very badly-think Nickleback and Puddle of Mudd).
Yes, Cobain did all of this and more; however, his most impressive accomplishment by far was making it cool to be depressed and miserable again. And not a moment too soon, too. After the 80s, a decade defined by cocaine-fueled optimism and material opulence, shitty music and even shittier clothing, it took someone with a whole lot of balls (and a pretty terrible Northwestern upbringing) to sit back and say, "wait a second, just put the fucking hairspray and eight ball down for a minute, things are not so great... life is actually bullshit." Not that I actually know anything about this awful decade that I speak so emphatically about, because I wasn't even a teenager when the decade ended. I do, however, have a vast working knowledge of writings from cultural bibles such as Spin and Rolling Stone that I took as Scripture regarding Cobain's effect on a world I was living in (yeah, I was pretty annoying preteen).
I also remember the effect Cobain had on me, as well as the majority of my peers. It seemed like the transformation happened over night; one day my entire class is decked out like Candyass Preppies complete with turtlenecks and Champion sweashirts, and the next we're buying out Salvation Army's everywhere, raiding our parent's closests for old, ripped jeans and ugly sweaters, growing our hair and only washing it every fortnight or so, and most importantly, acting pissed off at the entire world. Yeah, nobody accept Kurt could possibly understand ever the plight of an average, white, middle-class 12 year old.
It was amazing how it worked, socially speaking. Instead of trying to bury your family problems and dysfunctions and pretending like your life was perfect, you could actually flaunt them. I remember sitting in class and just wishing that my family was just a little more fucked up (it wasn't until years later, when I didn't actually want it to happen, that I found out they were "a little more fucked up" than I thought). I remember people actually being like, "man, Bobby's mom is literally known as the town whore, his sister looks and acts like she should wear a helmet, and his dad is a drunk that beats the shit out of the whole family, Bobby doesn't even know how good he has it."