Kurt Cobain’s Favorite Book Foreshadowed His Ending

Have you ever thought how easy it might be to gain people’s love and affection by fooling them with a few nice words and charisma? Throughout history, we’ve witnessed ‘leaders’ coming out on the stage and convincing people that they were the next great thing, making large audiences worship them. These so-called leaders’ stories, such as Jim Jones or Charles Manson, have often ended in total chaos.

We don’t know if you’ve ever considered how creepily easy it is to get people to admire you with the right attitude and charisma. Yet, it seems like Patrick Süskind had thought about it and decided to write a novel. ‘Perfume,’ as he named it, was released in 1985 and told the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a perfume-apprentice-turned-killer who was way too sensitive to smells.

Grenouille’s sensitive nose would cause him many troubles, leading him to despise humanity and any smell. However, on what seemed to be an ordinary day, he discovered a fragrance so fascinating that he had to check out who it had come from. It was from a young virgin girl, and Jean-Baptiste killed her to preserve her smell in his memory.

The perfume maker eventually turned into a full-time murderer who killed young girls and saved their smells to make great perfumes out of them. In the end, Grenouille was found guilty of his crimes and set to be executed. However, on the road to his public execution, he played one last trick.

He used one of his perfumes, the smell of which would impress the crowd so much that it would lead to a public euphoria and make people adore Grenouille’s talent for perfume-making and let him go. The perfume master then went back to Paris, his hometown, where because of his ‘perfect’ perfume, he was torn to pieces by the ‘loving’ crowd who adored him so much that they couldn’t get enough of him.

Perhaps, his end was divine punishment for his crimes, but Grenouille’s story would prove how easy it is to impress people with the right amount of talent. So, ‘Perfume’ was Kurt Cobain’s favorite book, and he’d once stated in a 1993 interview with Erica Ehm that he’d read it more than ten times over and over again. The book was always in his pocket whenever he needed it.

The Nirvana frontman also remarked how much he empathized with Grenouille, an outcast who, despite all of his crimes, was loved by the adoring crowds and got torn to pieces by the public that couldn’t get enough of him.

When asked about the book by Erica Ehm, the musician said the following:

“It’s about this perfume apprentice in France at the turn of the century, and he’s just disgusted, basically, with all humans, and he just can’t get away from humans, so he goes on this trek, this walk of death… He goes into the rural areas where there’s woods all over the place and small villages, and he only travels by night, and every time he smells a human, like a fire from a far-off way, he’ll just get really disgusted and hide; he just tries to stay away from people.”

In a twisted way, Cobain’s love for ‘Perfume’ and Grenouille foreshadowed his end as he received mass audiences’ love, adoration, and respect worldwide. Throughout the early ’90s, Nirvana was the ‘thing,’ selling millions and millions of records, being interviewed by hundreds of journalists, and everyone wanted a piece of Kurt.

The frontman had turned into a ‘Messiah’ for many as his fans looked up to him and couldn’t help but be fascinated. In the end, Cobain burned out like many supernovas: too soon and too bright. It was never a secret that the rocker believed he couldn’t fully fit into society, and becoming the most popular prize on the stage would eventually lead to his end.

In his suicide note, he quoted Neil Young, saying it was better to burn out than to fade away, expressing how he couldn’t get the pleasure he used to get by performing with Nirvana. He was atop the world, and the view seemed too distant.

Kurt Cobain’s words from his tragic suicide note, found in his Seattle house:

“When we’re backstage, and the lights go out, and the manic roar of the crowds begins, it doesn’t affect me how it did for Freddie Mercury, who seemed to love, relish in the love and adoration from the crowd which is something I totally admire and envy.

The fact is, I can’t fool you, any one of you. It simply isn’t fair to you or me. The worst crime I can think of would be to rip people off by faking it and pretending as if I’m having 100% fun. Sometimes I feel as if I should have a punch-in time clock before I walk out on the stage.

I’ve tried everything within my power to appreciate it [and I do, God, believe me, I do, but it’s not enough]. I appreciate the fact that I and we have affected and entertained a lot of people. It must be one of those narcissists who only appreciate things when they’re gone. I’m too sensitive. I need to be slightly numb in order to regain the enthusiasms I once had as a child.”

Grenouille was at the top of the world when he decided to walk away from it all, relocate to his hometown, and plan on dying there. However, people never had enough of him to the point that they tore him apart, piece by piece. It seems like Kurt had also lost all his passion and felt uncomfortable standing amidst adoring crowds, singing and letting people get a piece.

The popularity and fame brought Cobain’s end because as Grenouille was sensitive to any human smell, Kurt was constantly exposed to the spotlight. Being the ‘it’ guy made him lose all the energy and enthusiasm he once had and, sadly, brought his tragic end.