Because purchasing a massive 43-track deluxe reissue of In Utero isn't quite enough, the discerning Nirvana fan can now mark unofficial Nirvana Retrospective Month with a slightly more prestigious piece of real estate—literally. Surprise: it's the 1.5-story Aberdeen house where an innocent childhood Cobain fiddled with a piano and, years later, where a maladjusted teenage Cobain sulked and dropped out of high school before being kicked out by his mother. Smells like teen spirit, indeed.
As the Associated Press reports, Wendy O’Connor (better known as "Kurt's mom") is selling the dingy house for $500,000, which is admittedly a little more than the $67,000 the house was last assessed at. But the house does offer shiny amenities like Cobain's mattress, the holes he put in the walls, and the spot where the budding rock star scrawled "I hate Mom, I hate Dad" after his parents' divorce. These are valuable artifacts, especially considering Cobain's family is interested in turning it into a museum:
It’s a short walk from a riverfront park dedicated to Cobain’s memory, and the family said it would welcome a partnership to make the home into a museum. His room still has the stencil-like band names—Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin—he reportedly put on the walls, as well as the holes he put in them.
“We’ve decided to sell the home to create a legacy for Kurt, and yes, there are some mixed feelings since we have all loved the home and it carries so many great memories,” Cobain’s sister, Kim Cobain, said in an emailed statement
Perhaps unsurprisingly, some are creeped out by the sale:
Saving the mattress of your dead son for future profit is one thing, tying it to a box set release is another. http://t.co/hrsXyDfPCE— Jessica Hopper (@jesshopp) September 25, 2013
way to profit off your dead son Ms. Cobain— Kim Fearon (@KIMFEARON) September 25, 2013
Of course, historic preservation is a fine thing, but for a rocker as tortured as Cobain was, it's tough not to wonder what the guy would make of all this hubbub. Would he smile and cheer at the thought of his childhood home being sold for almost a hundred times the budget of Bleach and shuffled into a shrine? Maybe. But, based on what he had to say about the corrosive power of fame, probably not.
Cobain's intense discomfort with celebrity has been no great secret—the frontman jokingly introduced his band as "major label corporate-rock sell-outs" and once quipped that if he went to jail, at least he "wouldn't have to sign autographs." His biographer, Michael Azerrad, characterized him as "very ambivalent about being a multi-platinum celebrity," a topic Cobain breached in his 1994 suicide letter:
The worst crime I can think of would be to rip people off by faking it and pretending as if I'm having 100% fun. Sometimes I feel as if I should have a punch-in time clock before I walk out on stage. I've tried everything within my power to appreciate it (and I do, God, believe me I do, but it's not enough). I appreciate the fact that I and we have affected and entertained a lot of people. It must be one of those narcissists who only appreciate things when they're gone. I'm too sensitive. I need to be slightly numb in order to regain the enthusiasms I once had as a child.
So do we really need to put the house where those childhood "enthusiasms" were stirred on display so his family can make a buck? We've already got the singer's private journals on sale for $18.38 to go along with the aforementioned suicide note; hoisting up his teenage mattress as a shrine seems a bit gratuitous. Museums are great, but for Kurt Cobain, the music is a fine enough museum already.
All photos: Associated Press.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.