Get Inside The Mind Of Kurt Cobain With These Journal Entries

Published November 7, 2016
Updated November 7, 2023

Cobain's journals, more than any other source, reveal the music that inspired him and the problems that plagued him.

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Get Inside The Mind Of Kurt Cobain With These Journal Entries
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You know that queasy feeling you get whenever you see a still from a Poison music video? Kurt Cobain changed all that.

In the early 1990s, the Nirvana frontman shifted popular attention away from cheesy hair bands playing stale, musical gruel and introduced grunge and alternative to mainstream audiences, injecting heavy, distorted guitars into teen angst around the world. Instead of merely lashing out at "society," his music expressed the reality of one's emotional pain.

Music listeners around the world soon devoured Cobain's sound. Indeed, the band went from playing music for a few hundred people in Seattle to lighting up stadium-sized sets across Europe. In the course of a few years, Cobain transformed from the ugly duckling worried about money to the world's greasy-haired poet-prophet.

This came at a price: By the time Nirvana came back to the States, Cobain went from convincing people to buy his album to doing anything he could to get people to stop worshipping him. Cobain wanted none of what his music had wrought him; the musician already suffered from depression and social isolation growing up, and eventually rejected much of his own fame.

Cobain ultimately succumbed to the emotional pain that informed much of his music, and in 1994 he died -- perhaps of suicide -- at age 27.

"Now he's gone and joined that stupid club," Cobain's mother said when she learned her son had died, according to Rolling Stone (referring to Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison and the others in "The 27 Club" for famous musicians who died at age 27). "I told him not to join that stupid club."

Even though Cobain did join that club, he left behind a wealth of writings and drawings from his journals, a treasure trove for those touched by his music.

Those journals (largely written between and 1989 and 1990, when he also wrote many of Nirvana's most famous songs) have since been compiled into a book, transcribed and annotated excerpts from which you can see above.

Kurt Cobain's Journals were published in 2002.

Next, check out the casting call for the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" music video. Then hear the tragic tale of Frances Farmer, Kurt Cobain's doomed muse.

John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.