Kurt Cobain did not write that “death scene” note, which is not actually a death scene note, either

When CBS news reported the “breaking story” this week of what they called the “Kurt Cobain ‘death scene note,'” it seemed obvious to me that the note they were referring to was in Courtney Love’s handwriting, and not Kurt’s. I have examined thousands of pages of Kurt’s writing over the years, from a variety of different sources. All anyone had to do was look at Kurt’s handwriting in his published “Journals” book, and Courtney’s in her published “Dirty Blonde” memoir, or ask Love directly, or ask any Nirvana expert about the timing. The letterhead of this note was most likely from Nirvana’s stay at the Phoenix Hotel in San Francisco from 1991, not 1994. It was in his wallet when he died, clearly, but the linkage that CBS News, and the 500 other media sources that reprinted or reported the story, implied of some sinister connection, doesn’t exist. Instead, in a world were most news organizations are now “aggregators” and simply republish things to get web hits, no one seemed to even read the note itself closely, which is clearly written “to” Kurt, and is not “by” him. Is it in bad taste? Yes, of course it is. In “Heavier Than Heaven” I quote several other off-color notes both Kurt and Courtney wrote each other, which often referred to drugs or sex. And before you paste some snarky comment below about any of the parties involved, whatever you happen to think of Courtney, her music, or Kurt, or his music, for that matter, at the very least the network of Edward R. Murrow should check facts before running this type of story, which blows up the Internet, and gives them web hits even when it’s completely wrong (and they earn higher ad rates as a result). What that says about the nature of journalism today, saddens me. It is possible, as I often point out when giving book readings, to dislike Courtney (or Kurt, even, or the music of Hole, or Nirvana), and still believe that Kurt’s death was suicide. His story certainly, by any telling, includes addiction, and a strong family history of suicide that predates him ever picking up a guitar. Ironically, the media coverage this week just reinforces what I wrote in my recent “Here We Are Now,” (sent to press eight months ago) that controversy continues to follow reporting of Kurt’s death, not because of any facts, but because discussion on the issues of addiction and suicide, both epidemic in our society, is complicated and requires trying to find health-based solutions, rather than the easier moral finger-pointing. With a new book coming out from Courtney’s own father casting theories on a “case” (that isn’t a case), and another purported “documentary,” you can only expect more of this to come. But none that will help shift these issues in our society, or help the next kid growing up with these same issues.

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