November 11, 2002

In the Guardian, Pete Townshend reviews Kurt Cobain's posthumously published journals. Townshend's bitterness is hard to take at times -- and "middle-class white boy" is one of those use-other-words-please phrases -- but it's interesting to see one generation's nihilist hero comment on another's in such an affectless, honest way, and with the clarity of mind that comes from actually having survived all the drugs and the decades and the deaths. And yet, Townshend doesn't dismiss the book as a goth joke; as full of himself as he is being Mr. I Was a Rock Star Who Believed I Could Change The World and Now I'm An Adult Making Money Off The Legacy of My Two Dead Bandmates, he seems to identify strongly with Cobain's youthful petulance and selfishness. It's poignant.

An excerpt from that review:

"Most of these pages are facsimiles from what appears to be four or five other notebooks. The tatty front covers are sometimes themselves displayed. Apparently, there were actually 20 notebooks. It's a pity the entries are not dated, and that no attempt has been made to provide a chronology. The entries are not uninteresting. It is simply that they are devastatingly hard to contemplate. They actually hurt. These are the scribblings of a once beautiful, angry, petulant, spoiled, drug-addled middle-class white boy from a divorced family who just happened, with the help of two of his slightly more stable peers, to make an album hailed as one of the best rock records ever. I sometimes get letters from people who write and draw like Cobain. I put them in a file marked 'Loonies', just in case they try to sue me in the future for stealing their ideas."