My Pilgrimage To Kurt Cobain’s House

James McMahon writes:

I’m in Seattle, interviewing Pearl Jam – but I’ll tell you about that later on. Right now, I want to tell you about popping around to Kurt Cobain’s house.

I always promised myself, right from being a kid, that if I ever found myself in Seattle, I’d take a trip to 151 Lake Washington Blvd East – the house Kurt Cobain lived and died in. Thing is, actually being here – in this city I’m finding myself falling in love with more and more every day I spend here – made me question if I really wanted to go at all.


“Am I being ghoulish?” I thought. “And will I be pissing off the people who live in the house now? Or am I just paying my own small tribute to the guy who sang in my favorite ever band – who, as trite as this sounds – changed my life – on the one opportunity I probably ever will have to visit the place.” I mean, without Nirvana, I would have never formed a band. Fallen for indie rock even, or written a fanzine, which in turn kinda led to what I do now for a living. The guy who turned me onto righteous ways of thinking. The man who taught me about DIY and feminism and politik. Come to think of it, I doubt I’d have ever left Doncaster if there wasn’t someone who roared that there was a big old world out there outside my doorstep…

So I went.

Y’know, it’s not somewhere you’d find by just walking, and you’d be surprised at how little Seattle seems proud of the man. There’s no streets named after him of the type that reward the greatness of the Ramones in New York. There’s no busts of his head like Liverpool honours the memory of John Lennon with. But after a while asking, I finally found a cabbie who knew where he once lived, and would drive me there – and so for $30 I found myself sitting on a bench, under a tree, at 8am, trying not to invade the space of the current residents… next to his old house.

When all is said and done, it’s just a tree and a bench. And I sat on it and smoked a cigarette. I didn’t feel moved, or touched, or even like I wanted to write in pen on the bench like so many folk have done before me. It is a place of grace though, and I did remember how much the former next door neighbour of Viretta Park (or ‘Kurt’s Park’ as a bunch of people with a spray can obviously want it renamed) has meant to me throughout my life. I’m really pleased I went.

And I drummed out the rhythm pattern of ‘Scentless Apprentice’ in tribute…


And Pearl Jam? Well, like I said. I’ll tell you about that when I’m back…


Kevin Smith: “I’m the world’s biggest Kevin Smith fan”

The beloved cult filmmaker reflects on an extraordinary career

The Best Films of the Decade: The 2010s

As chosen by NME

The Best Songs Of The Decade: The 2010s

Here – after much debate – are the 100 very best songs of 2010s