A couple of days ago, Michael Stipe took the stage to introduce a night of celebrations of the life of Kurt Cobain and the music of his band, which arguably was a 1990s updated upon the Beat Generation, and gave a beautiful speech, dedicated “for the fags; for the fat girls; for the broken toys; the shy nerds; the Goth kids from Tennessee and Kentucky; for the rockers and the awkward; for the fed-up; the too-smart kids and the bullied.”
He went on to say, “We were a community, a generation… in the echo chamber of that collective howl, and Allen Ginsberg would have been very proud.”
Indeed, Ginsberg would’ve been very proud. Nirvana came about, as Stipe said, at a time when people lost within a harsh society were in need of a voice. Where Ginsberg gave his voice to the millions in the fifties and sixties, Nirvana lent theirs to disaffected kids (and adults) in the nineties.
It seems sometimes silly to speculate upon what the dead would think of the living, but in this case it’s hard to imagine a man with a heart like Ginsberg’s not empathizing with today’s downtrodden.
The whole speech is worth listening to, but if you can’t be fucked, skip to 5:26.
In the late spring of 1939, Weldon Kees, his wife Ann, and his parents, John…