Yesterday, I heard Kurt Cobain‘s gravelly voice on satellite radio and it took me back to my college years and just after, when I lived in New York and felt things so deeply.
This was before I embarked on the master’s degree in poetry. I was ramping up by noticing details and spending Tuesday nights late at Sue Shapiro’s apartment for the best writer’s workshop I’ve ever attended.
It occurred to me as I listened to his song yesterday, The Man Who Sold the World, that though he was an emotionally plagued artist with self-loathing, he and his bandmates got together to create their own unique kind of art. And we danced to it.
My college boyfriend popped into the pre-cursor of flash mobs on packed dance floors and gave it all his heart. The angst of the Gen-X twentysomethings was felt in the chords of Nirvana songs.
An artist who speaks for a generation, however briefly, however obscurely, that’s a true talent.
The thing about artists – and writers and entrepreneurs and anyone who builds a life around a talent and a passion and a voice – is that they aren’t looking for the safe path. We aren’t.
Artists want to change the world and wake people up and make a statement and leave a legacy.
The safe route is boring. Sleepsville. Land of indecision. Artists stumble on their paths – some are misunderstood, can’t make ends meet, make enemies in the process. But at least they’re trying to change the world.