December 21st, 2011
Musicians Kurt Cobain (1967-1994) and Krist Novoselic grew up and started the early incarnation of the legendary grunge band Nirvana in the Western Washington city of Aberdeen. Being a huge fan of Nirvana, It was one place I had to visit on my recent trip to the Olympic Peninsula. The welcome sign to Aberdeen says “Come As You Are” in tribute to Nirvana and Kurt but there is more to see than just that one sign.
Two blocks from Kurts childhood home is the North Aberdeen Bridge (also known locally as Young Street Bridge), which was requested to be renamed “Kurt Cobain Bridge” but this was rejected by the city council in July 2011 (probably due to his disparaging remarks about the town and his inappropriate behavior!). This bridge on the Wishkah River is somewhere he used to hang out and allegedly slept under as a teenager. These experiences inspired the Nirvana song “Something In The Way“.
Under the bridge is a sign “In Memoriam. From the muddy banks of the Wishkah” (“Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah” was also a title of an album released in 1996 of Nirvana live performances from 1989-1994). Under the bridge has become somewhat of a destination for fans from all over the world. There is a lot of graffiti under there, but most of it is in some form of tribute to Kurt Cobain (I even noticed some from Australia).
Although the bridge was not renamed, a small area next to the bridge has been named Kurt Cobain Riverfront Park. There is a sculpture monument of Cobain’s Fender electric guitar on a black plinth (with words inscribed on it from the Nirvana song “On a Plain“: “One more special message to go and then I’m done and I can go home“), there are also signs and plaques dedicated to him and his music. This memorial park officially opened in April 2011 and for a Nirvana fan it is well worth a visit.
Some information available indicates that after Kurt Cobains death in 1994, his family and friends gathered at this river to spread a third of his ashes. I have been informed that this actually was done in McLane Creek in Olympia, Washington (thanks Mitch Holmquist). I gather Courtney Love still has the remaining ashes?
Apparently there is also a statue of Kurt Cobain inside a muffler shop(!) in Aberdeen. It depicts him unshaved sitting playing the guitar with a tear running down his cheek. I did not know of this when I was there, so alas did not get a chance to find this one, but there is always next time!
P.S. Here are the other blogs I have written on Nirvana and Kurt Cobain: