Book Review: Kurt Cobain: The Last Interview
Release Date: November 22nd, 2022
Kurt Cobain remains one of music’s most fascinating and mythical figures. Critics and fans still obsess over figuring out who he really was and why his life was cut so short by picking apart his songs and dissecting his life. Many turn to interviews to help put together the pieces, but Cobain was known for being obtuse, elusive, and fickle with journalists leaving us to question what was actually true. Yet, we can still learn something about Cobain from these rare moments. The latest entry in Melville House’s Last Interview book series highlights Cobain’s elusive nature and his evolution throughout Nirvana’s career.
Kurt Cobain: The Last Interview And Other Conversations not only features what is supposedly Cobain’s final interview, it includes seven other interviews, three of which were previously unpublished in print. Though few of the interviews are groundbreaking on their own, the collection as a whole shows Cobain’s ever-changing nature on things like punk rock, being on a major label, his musical “rivals” and more. And this is where the book really shines.
It’s well-known how much Cobain messed with the truth in interviews. It’s no surprise that the man who famously claimed to have lived under the Young Street Bridge in Aberdeen (though many claimed he didn’t) played the unreliable narrator in his interviews. We start to see these inconsistencies in his earliest interviews pre-Nevermind. The interviews from 1990 present Cobain as someone insisting on his punk rock cred so much as to dismiss any major label interest (we know how that turned out).
Later interviews taken from 1993 and 1994 give us a glimpse at Cobain’s frame of mind during this period. Whereas before he was cynical and dismissive about his grunge peers, here he’s more relaxed and not interested in slagging them off in the press. Rather than moan about the jocks and normies who are now Nirvana fans, he’s come to terms with it. What’s most interesting is how often he brings up his family in these interviews. He’s very frank about how happy he is with his wife Courtney Love and daughter Frances Bean in his life. And just from reading his words, you can tell he’s in a better mood, which makes it especially tragic knowing how Cobain’s story would end just a few months later.
As for the final interview itself, honestly, it’s nothing monumental. It’s a casual chat with Chuck Crisafulli for Fender Frontline Magazine. Spanning only four pages, Cobain reflects on his work with Nirvana showing pride for what the band has achieved. Yet, he remains ambivalent about the band’s future unsure how long he can keep it going. It ends with Cobain once again expressing the joys of being a family man and playing music. He even jokes about being the opening act on a revival tour for the Temptations and Four Tops once Nirvana is over. Though the line was said in jest (and highlights Cobain’s wicked sense of humor), it now comes across as sad that he never made it that far.
Kurt Cobain: The Last Interview is a small collection of interviews that will interest old and new Nirvana fans alike. While it doesn’t drop any new bombshells about Cobain or Nirvana, it does show an interesting evolution in the frontman from Nirvana’s early formation to post-Nevermind fame and his family life. It’s disappointing that no interviews from Nirvana’s peak from 1991-1992 are featured. This would’ve highlighted Cobain’s inconsistencies and contradictions even more. And it would’ve further shown how Cobain changed his mind on certain topics within a few short years. But with the interviews that are featured, we can attempt to piece together who Cobain really was.
Kurt Cobain: The Last Interview And Other Conversations is out now.