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“Nirvana Once Wrote a Song about Old Age. It’s Called ‘Old Age.’ Here’s My Analysis of it.”

I’ve been through this a thousand times, it seems. I’ve listened to Nirvana’s music, heard raving discussions about them, heard opinions that they’re overrated or “overhyped,” but still today I can share even a b-side fossil like “Big Long Now” and have it play like a big, intimidating, forceful and epic grunge song. In many sectors, that is to say, the debate is settled.

One thing that’s not usually brought to the fore is Kurt Cobain’s lingering presence of bisexuality — he would frequently advocate for gay rights, kiss his band mates, slow dance with other musicians or wear dresses in public. All this, and it seems he still never came out of the closet, being perhaps afraid to.

He’s got two sort of fractal, inconclusive lyrics in his catalogue which are “Everyone is hollow”, in “Dive,” and “Everyone is gay”, in “All Apologies,” which of course in total would seem to add up to something like the summary Wilco tenet “Our love is all we have”, which appears in the inspirational “Jesus, Etc.”

In “Old Age,” it’s almost like he’s awaiting a time when he, or “his brother” in this case, a ploy perhaps employed as a way of infusing some sort of selflessness or virtue into the proceedings, no longer has to be a closet bisexual: “Somebody finally freed my brother”. The song features other indications of a deep connection with this anonymous male party: “He’s my friend to revive”… “In every way I love you”. Tragically enough, not only did this song never take off even though it’s really quite good (I first got word of it on Sliver: The Best of the Box), but he actually even sings it all in a mumble, as if embarrassed and understandably of its true lyrical contents.

 

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