Kurt Cobain Had Aspirations To Be Thought Of As A Singer/Songwriter “Like Johnny Cash”

Kurt Cobain Johnny Cash country music
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The late, great Kurt Cobain would’ve been 57 years old today.

Born on February 20th, 1967, he ultimately became a music icon, most notably as the Nirvana frontman and pioneer of the “grunge” genre.

Though he became an international rock star, ironically, Kurt never wanted all the fame and recognition, famously hated the media, and would rarely (if ever) give any explanations of his songs because he felt as though they were up for interpretation by his fans.

In the 2015 documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, which does have some inaccurate statements about his life and some of the intricacies they state, there is also some cool footage of Kurt talking about his future in music and what he wanted to do long term.

And actually, in some archival footage from an old interview in that film, he specifically notes the one and only Johnny Cash as an inspiration.

So much so, that Kurt actually had aspirations to be like Johnny and said he wanted to “start playing acoustic guitars” and transition to being more of a singer/songwriter kind of artist one day, rather than a “grunge rocker”:

“It might be nice to start playing acoustic guitars and be thought of as a singer and a songwriter, rather than a grunge rocker you know?

Because then I might be able to take advantage of that when I’m older, and sit down on a chair and play acoustic guitar like Johnny Cash.”

Pretty damn cool to hear that coming from an icon like Kurt… the man clearly had fantastic taste.

He also seemed to really admire how much respect Johnny received for his craft from the entire world, adding he believed he could be taken more seriously if he went in that direction musically:

“And it won’t be a big joke, who knows?”

Of course, Nirvana has become one of the most well-known and popular bands of all time even decades later, and I don’t think most people ever thought of him as a joke, but it’s really interesting to hear his perspective on what made an artist “legitimate,” so to speak.

And I know this might sound crazy, but I really don’t think he was that far off with some of the music he made with Nirvana… any of the songs he wrote could be stripped-back and deliver with just an acoustic guitar and his once-in-a-lifetime voice. The production certainly had a lot more than three words, but it was all the truth.

I know that’s not all it takes to consider a song “country,” but I do believe he could’ve been just as successful as more of a singer/songwriter. Sadly, though, Kurt died by suicide at the young age of 27 in April of 1994 according to the official Seattle police report, though there are some who believe he was possibly murdered, which is a story for a whole other post.

Who knows how long it would’ve been until he really started seriously working in the singer/songwriter genre, but former Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl told Howard Stern in an interview that the band was headed for a break-up around the time of Kurt’s passing.

It’s also rumored that Kurt was planning to divorce his wife Courtney Love at this time, and had started the process of leaving her when he died.

We’ll never know the full truth behind most of that, but he was potentially heading in a new direction with his life and music, and I can’t help but wonder what could’ve been had he been able to really pick up an acoustic guitar and make magic.

Unfortunately, we’ll never know what kind of music he would’ve ended up making in his life after Nirvana, but I can only imagine it would’ve been nothing short of incredible purely based on what a prolific songwriter he was.

It’s hard to believe Nirvana only released three full studio albums in total, but they’ve certainly stood the test of time and became all-time classics, and I have to imagine (or at least hope) that Mr. Cash probably enjoyed them, too.

And speaking of Kurt playin’ incredible acoustic tunes, how about his stripped-back performance of “All Apologies,” from Nirvana’s iconic MTV Unplugged feature in 1993…

I’m still in awe of this entire set and I’m pretty sure I always will be. This is pure magic:

And speaking of Johnny Cash and Nirvana, the Man in Black actually teamed up with former Nirvana bassist and founding member Krist Novoselic in 1996, in addition to Alice In Chains drummer Sean Kinney and Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil, to put an incredible spin on Willie’s song “Time of the Preacher.” Cash’s son John Carter Cash was also featured on acoustic guitar.

If you’ve never heard it before, I promise, it’s an incredible cover, and while maybe an unlikely group, simply WORKS:


A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock