The cult of Kurt rumbles into its second decade. Nirvana’s driving force left behind a rich but truncated musical legacy, one infused with a beguilingly lyrical mix of rage and depression made all the more poignant by his 1994 suicide. Many might say that his vital, urgent work speaks for itself, although fanatics seeking the source of the muse will always insist on digging deeper.
Those for whom Cobain’s death caused a seismic recalibration of their souls should add one more star to this review of AJ Schnack’s blindly affectionate and painfully reverential fugue. More a memento mori than a sober assessment, About a Son culls highlights from 25 hours of audiotaped interviews by music journalist Michael Azerrad to form a cradle-to-grave portrait posthumously narrated by the grunge megastar. Accompanying the introspection are artfully fetishistic shots of the Washington State locales in which he lived, loved, worked, ate, slept and dreamt.
Everyone’s life story includes a heady mix of the poetic and the mundane, and true artists divine inspiration from their own emotional stew. But obsessively mapping the quotidian geography of a man’s personal history won’t necessarily yield creative insight. It does offer misguided comfort, though, the way a broken lover finds solace in a relationship’s artifacts.