Kurt Cobain’s Mom Recalls Hearing ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ for First Time
Kurt Cobain’s mother, Wendy Cobain, recalled the first time she ever heard Nirvana's classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – after her son, who’d kept it hidden for three days, promised to play it at a low volume for her.
Speaking at the “Growing Up Kurt Cobain” exhibition that’s just opened in Ireland, Wendy, Kurt’s sister Kimberley and his daughter Frances Bean Cobain shared their thoughts on the icon, who died in 1994.
“‘Mom, can I put a tape on the stereo? It’s my recording,’” she remembered him asking on a Sunday when he’d come home to visit. Her reply was, “You’ve been here for three days. … I’m just hearing about this now?” He offered to keep the volume down because his stepfather was watching football, but she told him, “You don’t need to hear football. Turn it up!”
You can watch the interview below.
After having been witness to the challenges of putting the band and its material together, while Kurt rehearsed in her garage, Wendy recalled that the hair on her arms stood up and she felt a “heaviness” in her chest, before telling her son, “Oh, my God, Kurt, this is gonna sell you to the moon and back.”
“I warned him, ‘I don’t think you’re ready for this. How are you gonna do this?'" she added. "I was scared to death…” But the young man wasn’t convinced, dismissing her feelings because “you’re just my mom.”
Kimberley remembered that she’d gone to see Nirvana play as often as she could, and noted that, having watched them in small venues, she “got to see what so many people will never see.” "I couldn’t do my oral book report [the next day] because I went to see Nirvana for the very first time," she said.
For her part, Frances described the legacy of her late father as an “untouchable thing” and said she could only really perceive it in a “fan’s dynamic.” "He’s around me every day of my life, whether I want him to be or not," she noted. "It’s powerful because it humbles you because it’s so far-reaching … but sometimes it feels a little bit frustrating, on certain days.”
The Cobain exhibition runs at the Museum of Style Icons in Newbridge, Ireland, until Sept. 30, after which it moves to the Museo de la Moda in Santiago, Chile.