Those of us who attended high school in the 1990s will have a fantastic opportunity to feel really old next month, as April 8th, 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the discovery of legendary Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s lifeless body inside his Seattle home. Few things stay with a person like anniversaries and tragedies; for the literally millions who were heartbroken by Kurt’s passing, it seems there’s just something in the air as that grim milestone looms.
So it makes sense that, with Cobain on the brain, any shred of news that might potentially rewrite that sad past in our heads would be anticipated. Nirvana fans got what they wanted—sort of—with the recent report that police had reopened the investigation regarding Kurt’s death. Law enforcement officials in Washington State were quick to reply, in so many words, “No, we haven’t.”
In life, Cobain drew comparisons to all the greats of the rock pantheon; he was the John Lennon of the Pacific Northwest, or a Dylanesque voice of his generation. In death, he’s become more like a John F. Kennedy or a Tupac, as conspiracies regarding his suicide have yet to run out of steam, with some even alleging that he is, in fact, alive and in hiding.
And so the rumors of his case being re-examined gave heart to those who’ve always contended that Courtney Love orchestrated his murder, or some other such far-flung theory. The truth is that a Seattle police investigator simply took a look at the dusty old files, only to conclude that nothing essential had changed. What he did find is probably only of interest to those fixated on the macabre: heretofore undeveloped photos of Kurt’s works—a cigar box containing syringes and a spoon. You know, typical junky stuff.
And so, a good two decades after Kurt Cobain left us, the big news is still that there’s no big news—Cobain remains dead, and can be expected to remain dead well into the foreseeable future. With bonus tracks tacked onto deluxe reissues of “Bleach,” “Nevemind,” and “In Utero,” as well as the rarities boxed set “With the Lights Out,” record companies have scraped well past the bottom of the barrel in terms of giving fans something they haven’t already heard. It’s a real testament to Nirvana’s influence that enough will never be enough; but as we find ourselves reminiscing about sitting in front of an obviously shaken Kurt Loder on MTV News way back when—while we’re not combing anxiously for gray hairs in our goatees—we might want to consider moving on.