Recently, I watched the Brett Morgen documentary Montage of Heck, an authorized biopic about the life of Kurt Cobain: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4229236/
For some context, I was in my early twenties when Nirvana hit with Smells Like Teen Spirit. I guess I was old enough to have my angst in check, but young enough to enjoy the music. Old enough to buy my own CDs and not worry about curfew, but young enough to still be making some questionable choices. I was a fan of the band, and would say they were on a pretty heavy rotation. I can remember eagerly awaiting the 1993 release of In Utero, and purchasing the album the day it came out.
What I wasn't at the time was a huge magazine or tabloid reader. In the days pre-dating the internet and social media you really only knew bands through their music. To be honest, I didn't really know Kurt Cobain, or the troubles he was going through. When he passed in 1994 I already felt like I'd had a lifetime with him and the band even though they had only released 3 studio albums, and a fourth if you include MTV Unplugged in New York. I remember knowing about Courtney Love, and his drug problems, but I never knew the extent. On the day he died, I remember feeling very sad, but when I watched this documentary it hit me harder than it did on that day over 21 years ago.
I found myself thinking about Kurt from the lens of the teacher and a parent. The whole documentary played out to me like a series of missed warning signs; like calls for help that went unanswered. I saw Kurt's creative genius as the blessing and curse of intense, unacknowledged, untreated ADHD. What I found myself asking were things like "What would you do if that were a student at your school? Would you notice the signs? What would you do? Would you have been able to make a difference?" Of course, there are no certain responses, and that's what's making me think of him and his plight more. When the credits rolled, I felt very sad.
Since viewing Montage of Heck, I've downloaded the entire Nirvana catalogue and have been listening to it on my iPhone via Apple Music on a few long walks, just as I did back in the early 90s (except on my Sony Discman). I have moved past the sadness, and into the place of enjoying the music once again and a place of appreciation for the work of Morgen, and the gift he gave me to allow me to revisit my youth and the music that influenced me.