By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The surviving members of Nirvana will perform together at tonight’s 12.12.12 concert to benefit Hurricane Sandy victims. It’s certainly a worthy cause, and a notable moment for anyone who loves and appreciates music.
The reunited band will reportedly be fronted by the voice of another legendary band, Sir Paul McCartney.
This is a great cause, and former Nirvana members Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl and Pat Smear can all do whatever they want in their careers, but this is the wrong thing to do, and the wrong way to do it.
First, this doesn’t seem like too big a deal to Paul McCartney, who reportedly told The Sun “I didn’t really know who they were. They are saying how good it is to be back together. I said ‘Whoa? You guys haven’t played together for all that time? And somebody whispered to me ‘That’s Nirvana. You’re Kurt.’ I couldn’t believe it.”
Paul McCartney was hearing Grohl and Novoselic saying how good it was to be back together, and he had no idea why. Think about that. I’m not even entirely sure how that’s possible.
Clearly McCartney has his own special place in music history, but so does Nirvana. Whomever is the voice of a Nirvana reunion, if there is to be one at all, should have some idea as to who was actually in Nirvana. This person should have some idea as to the importance of Nirvana in the history of rock music, and the importance of the band to its fans.
As well, we’re not just talking about a member of Nirvana, with all due respect to Grohl, Novoselic, and later Smear, Kurt Cobain was Nirvana. Not just as the voice and most identifiable member, but the driving creative force for the band. It’s hard to even think of a band who is so singularly represented, and rightly so, by one of its members. This is bigger than Axl Rose to Guns N’ Roses, bigger than Robert Plant to Led Zeppelin, bigger than Bono to U2, and bigger than Steven Tyler to Aerosmith. The only comparisons I can draw that might be close are Trent Reznor to Nine Inch Nails and Eddie Van Halen to Van Halen.
I’m reacting selfishly and personally to this because I was a Nirvana fan, but that’s the point. I’m not alone. We’re talking about a band whose existence changed the course of popular music, and could very well be the last band to do such a thing. Given the splintering of pop culture and the inability to create the same kind of consensus wave that was once possible, Nirvana may be the last band to define a generation.
To do a Nirvana reunion without Kurt Cobain is the wrong thing in the first place, but to do it with someone who doesn’t understand its gravity is an insult to the people who love the band.