PBS Digital Studios’ Blank On Blank series has provided animated clips of numerous enlightening lost interviews, from David Foster Wallace discussing his reputation as a professor at Illinois State to Maurice Sendak chatting about respecting children enough to be honest with them about the harsh realities of life. The latest installments of the web series have uncovered clips of Janis Joplin and Ray Charles, but this week’s episode features an interview with Kurt Cobain recorded by Jon Savage in July 1993, just a few months before In Utero was released.
Cobain talks about high school insecurities and his struggles with personal identity, including when he realized that Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin “wrote about their dicks, and having sex” which he felt disrespected women. He recounts discovering his Irish ancestry—even calling people in the phone book—and a spiritual experience walking around County Cork. And perhaps most enlightening is Cobain frankly expressing that he at one point thought he was gay (“I thought that might be the solution to my problem.”), and that his mother forced him to stop hanging out with one of his only close male friends because that friend was gay. The most heartbreaking section is when Cobain expresses his optimism for the future, saying that he’s at his highest point since his parents’ divorce when he was seven, after getting married and becoming a father. Cobain would be dead less than a year after the interview was recorded.
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