History has always been marked by great music. Every generation has its own unique genre; from classical to swing, people have always found a song or a melody that seemed as if it was written just for them. However, truly great music is created by a certain type of genius. It takes more than the average guy to forge a classic like Stairway to Heaven. Two men in the late twentieth century were such masterminds: Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain. While both will live forever in musical infamy, they will remain legends for different reasons.
One of the most important factors in becoming a rock legend is bringing about a revolution, opening people to something bold and new. Kurt Cobain, along with his band, Nirvana, changed rock music forever. In a time when music was becoming mass-produced, emotionless muck, Cobain brought about something that was repulsively beautiful and alive. He introduced grunge rock to the world: music filled with screaming distortion, tremendous angst, and overwhelming passion rarely seen from the generation that invented the term whatever. Nevertheless, let us not forget a similar revolution, which took place over a decade earlier. In an era when hippies wandered free and drugs were just mind expanding, another such musical phenomenon occurred. A young black man caught the ear of millions with his awe-inspiring guitar tunes. This man was Jimi Hendrix. Unlike Cobain, Hendrix wrote music to support and inspire his followers, as opposed to creating a method of shock treatment through music. Hendrix created brilliant melodies along with lyrics that touched the hearts of all who would listen.
One habit that both musicians shared was the ability to excite and invigorate listeners, especially live audiences. Cobain had the ability to make thousands of slackers stand up and scream for more. Throughout his many tours, Cobain always arrived to a packed venue filled with fans, many of which had probably spent the night in line waiting for tickets and the chance to see something momentous. Hendrixs career consisted of more festival type tours, where he was allowed to reach a wider variety of listeners, while still holding the faith of his steadfast fans. Hendrix had a particular talent for playing the guitar. He would delight and thrill onlookers by playing with his toes or his teeth, or while spinning around on the ground. Both were great performers who knew how to put on a show. Their greatest common characteristic was in how they ended the performance; they would completely trash the stage from which they played. Smashing guitars, tipping drum sets, and even setting fire to the instruments were some their memorable methods of concluding a performance.
These great musicians were also great lyricists. Both have songs which remain on the top countdowns to this day, although Hendrix died almost 20 years ago and Cobain passed in 1994. Cobain left a legacy of haunting tunes such as Come As You Are, Polly, and Heart Shaped Box. Kurt used the pain from a broken family and a painful life to give birth to remarkable songs, which allowed so many disillusioned teens to find a kin spirit in his words. Hendrix also composed many amazing pieces, such as The Wind Cries Mary, All Along the Watchtower, and Purple Haze. His music held enthusiasm and a fire rarely seen in such a form. Although they both had numerous great hits, both had one great song that would characterize their music careers forever. For Jimi Hendrix, it was his guitar interpretation of the National Anthem, while Cobains was his first hit Smells Like Teen Spirit.
These great men helped shape our culture and gave the youth of their time something to believe in, someone who knew how it felt, and someone to give them hope. Jimi Hendrix taught people that great music comes in all different forms. Whether its a soft rhapsody or a devilish guitar tune, music is what drives us. Kurt Cobain failed to teach us anything, but he did wake up a sleepy generation. He inspired millions of kids to go out and start their own garage bands, but most importantly his music related to them. The lyrics from his most popular song describe