May 6, 2010  •  In Music, Personal

Where Were You When…

Yesterday I read that the Nevermind baby is now grown up and working for the artist who designed the Obama Hope posters.

The Nevermind-wha?

This CD cover may help jog your memory:

It’s hard to believe that this much time has passed since the release of Nirvana’s ground-breaking album.

I once read that our generation’s Kennedy assassination — meaning the prompting and universal understanding of the question “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” — is the late Princess Diana’s tragic car crash.

I disagree.

Among my group of friends, among those who lived out our angst-ridden teenage years in American suburbia, the better question would be, “Where were you when Kurt Cobain committed suicide?”

And to answer my own question, I was at school. More specifically, I hurrying through the hallways in an effort to make it to 2nd period algebra on time when I noticed students huddled in corners, whispering in front of lockers, and crying.

At the time I knew who Kurt Cobain was but was not a fan of Nirvana. It was only within the next year that I became further entrenched in the growing alternative movement and saw Nirvana for who they were: an iconic band that spearheaded the grunge genre of music and became the flagship band of Generation X.

Hence, I did not grieve Cobain’s death with the rest of my generation. I only grieved for his death months and years after the event, additionally mourning my earlier overlook of his talent.

Where were YOU when Kurt Cobain committed suicide?

…or do you believe “Where were you when Princess Diana died?” is a better question for my generation?

13 Responses to “Where Were You When…”

  1. I actually don’t remember where I was when Kurt Cobain died, but one of my closest friends from high school does. She was in school when she heard and she was so upset that she cried. Then, after school, she went to this horrible cheap tattoo place near where we lived in the suburbs and got an illegal tattoo of Kurt’s face. He still resides on her forearm, his shoddy looking blue eyes staring out into the world.
    As for Princess Diana, I remember my parents telling me when I woke up and then spending the afternoon in a tea room with my mom and her friend where everyone was having the same conversation about how awful it was in hushed tones.

  2. I must have matured emotionally later than you guys, because 9/11 really is my "where were you" moment (I was born 1982, but I’m a bit of an idiot). I think I just remember being at home with my mom when news of Diana broke.

  3. SJC:

    9/11 is my moment, too. I actually have no idea where I was for the other two.

  4. KH:

    For me, at least prior to 9/11, it was "where were you when the Challenger exploded?" (Answer: at my locker between classes is when I heard…I was in 6th grade.)

  5. Moll:

    Yeah, I have no idea where I was when Cobain… I was in middle school and hadn’t discovered cool music yet.

    I’d agree that Princess Di and 9/11 are "the moments" for our generation. When I found out Di had died, I was lying on the beach enjoying Labor Day weekend and my brothers came back with a newspaper to tell us the news. On 9/11, I was sleeping until the last minute before I had to get up for class when one of my roommates called us all into the common room to see what was happening on the news.

  6. I am a Nirvana fan, but born in 1983, my big moments would have been Oklahoma City (6th grade math class), Columbine (9th grade french class) and 9/11 (Hotel in Dickinson, ND, on the second morning of my drive from Minnesota to Oregon — for college). I have no idea where I was when Princess Di died. (Not that I didn’t care… I just don’t remember/it isn’t one of my moments. Same with Kurt.)

  7. birdie:

    i remember feeling shock and despair when i learned princess di died, but i can’t remember exactly where i was or what i was doing. unfortunately i’m not that into music.

    i think 9/11 is the defining moment in my life time because i remember it as if it was yesterday, and i generally have a bad memory. i was on vacation with my family in vancouver canada when it happened. we watched everything unfold on live tv in our hotel room. i’ll never forget the desperation and sadness that we all felt. my mom later commented that it was like watching a movie, like it could not have been real. whenever i see images or think of 9/11, my eyes tear up. we were also stuck in canada for an extra week afterwards because there were no flights allowed into US.

  8. Geek in Heels:

    It’s funny that so many people have mentioned 9/11….because that didn’t occur to me at all when writing this post!

    However, I have to agree that it IS one of the most defining moments of our generation.

    That being said, I think the reason I didn’t include it (subconsciously or not) is because it still seems too fresh in my mind…does that make sense? I saw the cloud of smoke and I saw the second plane hit the second tower from across the river. I was on a freeway, but all the cars had pulled over and was staring in shock.

  9. Ali:

    For me our "Where were you when…?" question is 9/11. I can remember that morning like it was yesterday.

    I was also in middle school when Kurt Cobain died. A couple of my friends were really upset… and I don’t want to sounds like my heart is made of coal but his death really didn’t shake me. I was never a big Nirvana fan, and although I acknowledge is music was influential, I’m not a fan :-/ and now I sound like a horrible person.

  10. I was a bit young when Cobain died, so I don’t remember it at all. I do remember Diana’s death, and being saddened. 9/11 was definitely the big one for me. I remember many events surrounding it in our community very clearly, even a couple years down the road. I also went to NYC 6 months later and saw Ground Zero. That was the clincher for me.

  11. CMW:

    I have no idea where I was when Kurt Cobain killed himself. However, I do remember the aftermath- a kid in my high school (who idolized Cobain) killed himself a few days later and the combination of the two made a good friend of mine (who also idolized Cobain and was in love with the kid) severely depressed. So it did impact my life, but not because I admired him or was a fan. I don’t think his passing is the Kennedy assassination of our generation.

    I do remember where I was when Princess Di was killed. I was in my freshman dorm room, listening to the radio when the DJ announced it. I wasn’t an admirer of hers, but was sad to hear of her death. While she did a lot of good, her death was mostly news because of all the tabloid hubbub. I don’t think she was influential enough (at least in the US) to reach the level of JFK.

    I also remember where I was on 9/11/01. I was watching the Today show in my first year graduate dorm in Princeton, NJ- getting ready for my first day of grad school orientation. I distinctly remember watching Katie Couric reporting in front of a live picture when the 2nd plane hit and the look on her face as she realized what was happening on the screen behind her. Makes me sick to my stomach. I completed a flurry of phone calls before orientation began to make sure all my friends and family were accounted for- since they are all in the tri-state area and many commute via the path/subway that ran through World Trade. I also remember driving home for Thanksgiving that year and noticing how unrecognizable the sky line was from NJ as I approached the GW Bridge. I think 9/11 does rank as the JFK of our generation. It completely changed our national psyche and altered the course of world history- Afganistan, Iraq, Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration, Terror Alerts- we are not the same nation we were on 9/10/01.

    One other moment II remember is where I was when Bush, Sr. declared war on Iraq. I was sitting in Pasta Plus in Yorktown, NY with my family. I was in middle school at the time and just remember feeling frightened by war. It was the first war of my lifetime (sad I have to say "first," wish it had been the last) and remember wishing I didn’t have to know what it was like to experience ‘wartime’ like my parents and grandparents had. Little did I know the second Iraq war would become the Vietnam of my generation.

  12. Liesal:

    I think this is a very interesting topic; one that reaches beyond internet blogging and one that lets everyone tell their interesting story. My mom still likes to tell me where she was when she found out about Kennedy’s assassination (sitting at home with the chicken pox).

    While Princess Diana’s death was quite tragic, and I remember when I found out (getting ready for bed late one night the news broke in), for me, I think the big "where were you when…" is for 9/11. Now I think that if I was British, my answer would be Princess Diana’s death. If I was Spanish, it’d be the 11/3 Atocha station bombing. But I’m American and while 9/11 did affect the entire world, it was first and foremost our national tragedy.

    When I found out about 9/11, I was at school coming out of 1st Period (band) and the TV in the cafeteria was on (which was weird). We then watched TV all day to learn what happened to our country. I remember later that night, my mom let me stay up late to keep watching the news coverage. I remember that we really didn’t say anything, but were to awed about what was happening. Even though I lived in Nebraska, I still really understood the fear of the country: fear of if they could do this, they could do anything, what if we were next?

  13. before 9/11 my moment was the OJ police chase and trial for killing his wife. "If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit." I remember watching both on the media cart in the classroom, it was either 5th or 6th grade. Right? There was a full solar eclipse sometime around then too, I think.

    9/11 = my PG year of HS (I went to boarding school and stayed on for an extra year after graduation, i.e. post grad). I was in music theory class and the assistant prof came in and we thought he was joking (he was a big kidder) and that it was a really distasteful joke. Then he pulled the tv on a cart into the room and turned on the news. I went right to the nearest hall and used the house mom’s phone to call my dad at work and make sure what I was seeing was real. It was and it was scary. I spent the next 2-3 days skipping class and sitting at my laptop, using dial-up AOL until I’d heard back that all of my family in NY and all of my friends parents who work at the Pentagon were OK.

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