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Heavier Than Heaven – the Story of Cobain’s Life Essay


Kurt Cobain is an iconic figure for millions. Many people find something very special in his music. For some he is an inspiring hero who did not belong to this world. It goes without saying that all those admires of his music wish to know more about the tragedy of his life. Charles R. Cross wrote a book Heavier Than Heaven that is largely appreciated by fans of Curt Cobain’s talent. The writer has created a story that reveals many of the rock star’s secrets.

The book is a very detailed biography which is based on profound research. However, Cross’ writing style is what makes his biography that complete and special. He is telling a story in a very comprehensible way. He does not simply provide a set of fact. Cross provides the entire picture. In fact, the reader can literally ‘see’ the story of Cobain’s life. Therefore, it is possible to state that Cross’ book Heavier Than Heaven is the best Cobain’s biography which is appreciated by many people due to its thoroughness and comprehensiveness.

In the first place, it is necessary to mention some facts about the book itself. The book was published in 2001, the year of 10th anniversary of Nirvana’s album Nevermind. The writer pointed out in the beginning of his book that his goal was “to honor the story of his [Cobain’s] life … without judgment” (Cross x).

Cross also noted that he understood it was a hard task to reveal a story of a man who was drug addict. So, he knew how serious his task was. He coped with this task and created a story for those “with courage to tell the truth, to ask painful questions, and to break free of the shadows of the past” (Cross xi). Having such an honorable goal Cross had to learn the whole truth about Kurt Cobain.

Notably, the writer did everything to find out as much as possible about the rock star. The book is based on four years of detailed research. Cross studied four hundred interviews, “numerous file cabinets of documents, hundreds of musical recordings” and Cobain’s diary (x). The biography starts with the future rock star’s birth.

It is important to note that Curt’s life was accompanied by severe depression from the very first years of his life. Kurt also had to live in constant pain because of his stomach condition which was not diagnosed. Thus, depression and pain were his alter egos. He was born in the city which was declining, the city where working-class people tried to build their happiness.

Cobain’s family had some financial difficulties as well. Apart from this Kurt’s parents could not create a good family, and had to divorce when the boy was only ten. This was one of the first significant losses in the life of the future star. He was really depressed because of the fact that he did not have a ‘normal’ family. He was dying of shame when his parents came to his school.

His school was another part of his life which caused him many sleepless nights and lifelong drug abuse. He was fourteen when he had his first experience of taking drugs. Unfortunately, he could not find another way to escape from his sorrows, loneliness, depression and physical pain. Notably, it was Cobain who fenced off himself from the rest of the world.

He was strikingly lonely, but he did not want to let anybody into his own world. His father insisted on his going in for sports which could make him fit into the reality. However, Cobain made everything to quit sport though he was good at it. More so, in one of the interviews Cobain pointed out that he even pretended to be homosexual to make people leave him alone.

Fortunately, music entered his life. Kurt’s uncle presented him an electronic guitar. This can be regarded as a birth of the great star, an iconic figure of the generation X. Cobain took music lessons and soon he became a real ace. His music became a kind of relief for him. He also found a friend who shared his ideas and longings. This was Krist Novoselic who became a member of a renowned band Nirvana.

It is important to point out that they did not have an overnight success. They recorded their first album Bleach in 1989. They participated in various festivals and ‘indie’ concerts. It was not until 1991 when the band became famous. Their album Nevermind (released in 1991) was their breakthrough. All the dreams the musicians had came true. Nonetheless, Kurt Cobain became even more depressed. Admittedly, he who always wanted people to leave him alone found himself in the center of people’s attention. His drug addiction worsened.

Even his marriage with Courtney Love and the birth of their daughter Frances could not save the great lonelier from his depression. He had several overdoses within a few years. He had to postpone concerts as he was not able to perform due to his health problems. This frustration led to two albums Incesticide (1992) and In Utero (1993). The albums were financially successful projects, but many people considered them to be quite failing.

Cobain himself thought he did not create anything worthy and, what is more, he thought he was not capable of making anything deserving. Such ideas along with his worsening drug addiction made him suicidal. He made several attempts to commit suicide within several months until his last successful attempt on April 5, 1994 when the rock star ended his life, aged only 27.

Of course, the tragedy of Kurt Cobain’s life could not be revealed in an ordinary biography. Cross’ book contains an in-depth analysis of Kurt’s life. The secret of Cross’ work is also in his special writing style. Though, the book is regarded as non-fiction as it is based on particular data, it seems it is a piece of fiction writing.

The writer provides certain facts in a mix with perfectly cut descriptions. These descriptions make it possible to recreate the complete picture of Cobain’s life. Finally, it is also important to state that due to Cross’ special style the book is easy to read and comprehend. He tells his story in a very natural way.

In conclusion, it is possible to point out that the book by Cross Heavier Than Heaven tells a story of Kurt Cobain’s life. However, the book is something bigger than a mere biography. It contains millions of details from the rock star’s life which reveal the complete picture of Cobain’s individuality.

This enables the reader to ‘see’ the story of Cobain’s life rather than to “read” it. However, the most important thing about the book is that it does help to understand the tragedy of Cobain’s life. Remarkably, the title of the book (as well as the entire book) reveals the major ‘problem’ of Cobain: he was too ‘heavy’ to fit into this world.

Work Cited

Cross, Charles R. Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain. New York, NY: Hyperion, 2001.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Heavier Than Heaven - the Story of Cobain’s Life'. 27 April.

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