Journals (Cobain)

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Journals Cobain.jpg
AuthorKurt Cobain
CountryUnited States
PublisherRiverhead Books
Publication date
2002 Hardcover, 2003 Paperback
Media typePrint (Paperback and Hardcover)
Pages280 (hardcover)
294 (paperback)
782.42166/092 B 21
LC ClassML420.C59 A3 2002

Journals is a collection of writings and drawings by Kurt Cobain, who was the lead singer and guitarist of Nirvana. Though the content is undated, it is arranged in approximately chronological order. It was published in hardcover by Riverhead Books in November 2002, and in paperback by Riverhead Books in November 2003. Journals opened at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list (non-fiction).[1] It contains scrawled notes, drafted letters, shopping lists, and drawings by Cobain.

Cobain's Journal Entries About His Health[edit]

Throughout his life, Cobain was physically fragile and sickly; suffering from scoliosis, undiagnosed stomach ailments (which some argue led to his heroin addiction), and a touring schedule that required him to spend hours each night singing, screaming and stage diving.[2] On top of his physical issues, he was diagnosed with clinical depression during his teenage years.[3] In his private journals, that were later published after his death, Cobain details the horrific stomach pain he experienced. He says that eating was always followed by a relentless, "burning nauseous pain in the upper part of my [his] stomach lining".[4] He writes that the pain would, at times, leave him crunched up in his bathroom floor, paralyzed by the discomfort, continuously regurgitating nothing but blood and water.[4] Though the root of his gastrointestinal issues was never determined, and close friends of Cobain argue that it was simply an excuse for his heroin habit, no one can deny the fact that he suffered tremendously.[5] Other bandmates have later recalled Cobain's strange fascination with bodily functions. During a 1989 Nirvana tour, one of the band's singers, Tad Doyle, suffered from daily nausea and vomiting episodes; Kurt Danielson, a close friend of Doyle's, recalls that Cobain would voluntarily hold a bucket for Doyle to vomit into and often appeared excited to see the end result.[6][2] Danielson remembers that Cobain admired Doyle for his struggle, and viewed his sickness as artistic and authentic.[2] Cobain's obsession with bodily fluids can be more publicly seen in his graphic song lyrics; from sex, to urination, to vomiting, almost 90% of his songs and art were somehow influenced by the human body.[6] In his journal entries, Cobain would often misspell words and put an anatomical twist on his spelling of a word.[2]


Seattle Weekly News said this: "The journals are like an exploded diagram of a tormented soul, a maelstrom of self-pity, intolerant pride, morbid introspection, ingenious self-delusion, merciless self-knowledge, showbiz revulsion, starstruck effusion, Faustian ambition, otherworldly detachment, and an iron will helpless to help itself. Packed into 280 pages are shocking confessions, sweetly eloquent letters to brilliant friends, hard-nosed band plans, fulminating political screeds, obscene cartoons, haunting video treatments, and lyrical poetry of tremulous Romantic sensitivity, Bukowskian crudity, dadaist flippancy, and modernist opacity." Furthermore, its release reportedly polarized fans, some of whom felt it constituted an invasion of Cobain's privacy, and others of whom saw it as a unique opportunity to better understand him.[7]


  1. ^ "Books, Best Sellers: December 15, 2002". The New York Times. December 15, 2002. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Wood, Jessica L. "Pained Expression: Metaphors of Sickness and Signs of 'Authenticity' in Kurt Cobain's 'Journals.'" Popular Music, vol. 30, no. 3, 2011, pp. 331-349. JSTOR, JSTOR,
  3. ^ Strauss, Neil. "Kurt Cobain's Downward Spiral and Last Days." Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone, 2 June 1994,
  4. ^ a b Cobain, Kurt. Journals. Riverhead Books, 2003.
  5. ^ "Buzz Osborne (the Melvins) Talks the HBO Documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck". Talkhouse. Retrieved 2018-04-28.
  6. ^ a b Cross, Charles R. Heavier Than Heaven: a Biography of Kurt Cobain.Hachette Books, 2001.
  7. ^ Appelo, Tim (October 9, 2009). "Kurt Cobain's Last No.1 Hit". Seattle Weekly News. Retrieved December 28, 2015.