The album Neil Young wrote about Kurt Cobain’s suicide

Neil Young

Due to his significant but unnoticed impact on the formation of the grunge genre, Neil Young is deservedly hailed as the “Godfather of Grunge.” Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain both looked up to him. They took cues from his unwavering attitude to imbue their music with a similar ferocity. Young was severely devastated by the loss of his relationship with Cobain following the untimely death of the frontman of Nirvana. His subsequent album channeled a strong force from his grief.

Thanks in large part to his guitar’s extreme distortion, Neil Young’s 1979 album Rust Never Sleeps is frequently regarded as a pivotal record. Many consider it the album that unintentionally started the grunge movement. He had a significant influence on the next wave of musicians. The former Buffalo Springfield star’s work exposed many of them to his music.

My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue), the first song on the album, is where Young lays out the foundation for the grunge movement’s raw, abrasive style of rock. The refrain of the song, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away,” could pass for a manifesto for a generation of musicians. These musicians are fed up with the gimmicks of popular music. The line famously brought Young closer to another grunge pioneer. Now, this often-quoted line has transcended its original context and become an anthem for many. For those valuing punk’s honesty over mainstream gloss, it holds special significance, resonating deeply with Young.

Naturally, the tragic connection becomes clear after Cobain famously paraphrased Young’s lyrics in his suicide letter. This demonstrates the profound influence Young had on him. Young described in his memoirs how this realization profoundly affected him, saying, “When he died and left that note, it struck a deep chord inside of me.” It played tricks on me,” he wrote. By coincidence, I’d been attempting to get in touch with him. I wanted to speak with him and advise him to play only when he was in the mood.

Neil Young used the song “Sleeps with Angels,” which became the lead single off his 1994 album, to honor the late Nirvana frontman. It was a way for him to express his grief after Cobain’s passing. Young had been trying to get in touch with Cobain in the weeks before the accident in the hopes of providing him with comfort. The song “Sleeps with Angels” perfectly captures the melancholy themes that run throughout the album. Cobain’s passing unintentionally influenced Young’s introspective and depressing artistic direction.

Although Neil Young has avoided the subject in the past, he has not provided a firm response. It is undeniable that Cobain had an influence on the direction the singer took with Sleeps With Angels. “There are a lot of melancholic moments in Sleeps With Angels, as well as overtones from the various situations that are described in it,” Young once remarked. “I haven’t discussed the motivation behind that album.” I’d rather not begin right now. He continued, “I just don’t want to talk about that,” when pressed further. I make that choice. I’ve decided not to discuss it, and I’m not going to back down.

Following its use in Cobain’s suicide note, many publications falsely claimed that Young had promised to stop performing “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black).” On the other hand, he embraced the song’s fresh poignancy and included it in his set for the first few performances following Cobain’s passing. Young told Uncut, “It just made it a little more focused for a while.” “Now, all you have to think about while singing it is another face.”

Kurt Cobain’s untimely death had a significant impact on Sleeps with Angels’ examination of mortality. Even though the record isn’t exclusively about him, his influence is evident. The idea of death returned to the forefront of Young’s thoughts when Cobain mentioned his work in his last moments. Young might have chosen a different artistic route if Cobain hadn’t passed away. However, as a true artist, his creations are a reflection of his experiences. After the leader of Nirvana passed away, Young had to confront ideas of mortality that he might have otherwise avoided.

The death of Cobain “fucked with” Young, which was the source of the album’s enduring sadness. This caused Young to bleed his emotions into his music whenever he encountered these challenging circumstances. His go-to coping strategy is to head into the studio, which is exactly what he did with Sleeps With Angels. Rather than focusing on abstract ideas, the bulk of his work addresses important and grounded subjects. Cobain’s death sparked the difficult path he takes with the album in question.

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