Feb 24, 2010

Welcome to Aberdeen

Monday 22nd Day 15

I'm letting Carol, a native of the original Aberdeen, write about our trip to Kurt Cobain's hometown. Take it away Carol...

People often like to interpret coincidences as somehow meaningful rather than pure chance. As a teenager in Aberdeen, Scotland I was thrilled to discover that Kurt Cobain grew up in Aberdeen, Washington. I'm not sure what I thought the deeper meaning was, but it had to be significant, right? Now, 20 years later, as we approached Aberdeen WA another coincidence... Get Together by The Youngbloods was playing on the radio.


As we entered Aberdeen we saw a sign with the words 'Welcome to Aberdeen. Come As You Are', the second line a subtle memorial to Kurt added to the sign in 2004. We passed through the usual strip malls towards downtown Aberdeen - what little there was of it. A couple of blocks further on, we stopped by the Tourist Information office where Ged managed to find A Walking Tour of Kurt Cobain's Aberdeen. I don't need to tell you what's on it, you can see for yourself here.

We drove (a walking tour? Really?) round some of the many spots where Kurt lived/slept. This included the Melvins' drummer Dale Crover's house where Kurt would sometimes sleep in a cardboard box on the porch. Unfortunately it seems that his last Aberdeen residence (a "ramshackle hovel" according to the walking tour) has been razed. We could get a pretty good idea what it was like though from the surrounding properties. The two houses next door had been gutted and were cordoned off with police tape. I'd describe it politely as a deprived area. I can say a couple of good things about it. It was very close to downtown. Actually, on second thoughts, I can't think why that would be a good thing. However, a real positive was my new number one thrift store just around the corner. Kurt might even have got his lovely green cardigan there...

The shift from the transitory life Kurt was living in Aberdeen to the fame and wealth he achieved with Nirvana was huge and, though it's extremely sad, it's not surprising he found it so difficult to deal with.

Thank you Carol. I checked on iTunes and there are lots of songs called Aberdeen by acts I've never heard of. (Obviously ignoring Scottish legends like Andy Stewart and the Aberdeen FC Squad.) I'm guessing these songs are about Kurt's hometown. But I can't be bothered listening to songs I'm sure are shit. However I will recommend the work of the great Damien Jurado who seems obsessed with Aberdeen and its nearby small (seriously small) cities of Hoquiam (Kurt's actual birthplace) and Montesano. He has songs named after both of these, namechecks them in other lyrics and even has a band with his son named Hoquiam.

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