Sean’s music 2 … Nirvana

There is quite a lot of stuff hanging on the walls of Sean’s bedroom. Most of it has to do with rugby … team posters, pictures of players, newspaper reports of notable victories for Ireland or Munster; an autograph from Tyrone Howe, whom Sean met once; a letter inviting him to a training session with Brian O’Driscoll. Also an Ireland jersey.

The only two footballers that appear are Patrick Vieira and Kolo Touré, in their Arsenal days. There is a Kings of Leon CD sleeve, and five tickets to a party in a pub in Athboy last November, which featured some top international DJs (I think Sean knew one of them). There is a weight-training programme. For some reason, there is half an Australian five-dollar bill.

The small room contains a king-size bed in (a hand-me-down from his parents), weight-training equipment, a large punchbag (with wall bracket for hanging it up) and a speedball. There is a television and a CD player. There is an old brass shell-case from one of the wars, given to Sean by his English grandad.

Directly above the bed is a poster of Kurt Cobain (1967–1994) smoking a cigarette. This was placed there at a time when Sean loved Nirvana … he listened to nothing else for a year or so when he was around 13 or 14, directly after his heavy-metal phase. Their gritty integrity and non-commercialism as well as their music appealed to him.

Nirvana had passed his mum and me by when they were in their heyday … I knew hardly any of their tracks. When Sean got interested in them, we soon realized that they were a truly great band (surely the best three-piece ever). We used to listen to them in the car all the time, and often in the house.

Sean moved on to other things musically, but towards the end of his life often played Nirvana again. Their music is steeped in memories for the other members of his family. Memories of Sean, our son and brother, who died four weeks ago today. We miss you, Sean.

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20 Comments

Filed under Biography, Music

20 responses to “Sean’s music 2 … Nirvana

  1. Music is one of those things that takes us straight back to a person, a place, a particular moment. Painful but also comforting.

    After my father died, I was back at work two weeks later, and a colleague, a nice woman, asked me how I was.
    When I said I was still struggling to take it in, and feeling pretty fragile she said, “Still?”

    I believe the death of someone close is too big to take in in one go. It takes a long time. and even then, you still miss them. The sense of loss never really goes away.

    • Yes, Isobel. At the same time, losing a parent (as an adult) is part of the natural order of things in a way that losing a child is not.

      I have lost both my parents, and of course it affected me, but I must not have been as close to them as you were to your father and are to your mother. My wife was very affected by losing her father, but he had lived for 70 years or so, and had been a father and grandfather. This latest bereavement is on a different level altogether.

  2. I’ve been thinking about this on and off since reading your post.
    Mother and I got by on Van Morrison’s Irish Heartbeat. I had a tape of it, and we played it almost constantly.
    When I had to leave to go back to work, I bought her a copy, she switched it on as I drove away. Still today, listening to it conjures up images of driving to my parents’ house after my father had died, and then coming home again.

    • I remember that you mentioned that album. It will always be plaintive and emotional for you. A lot of music will be like that for me.

      Sean’s girlfriend hurriedly downloaded some tracks he liked onto a CD to be played at his wake. A good deal of Bob Marley; also Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Jimmy Cliff. We have listened to it in the car a lot … too much, perhaps.

  3. Rainer the cabbie

    Short break, couldn’t drag myself away.
    Anyway this Nirvana blog brought back a memory from a long time ago.

    We were visiting a friend of a friend to have a look at her new baby. MTV was on the television.

    The young mother said she was looking forward to when there were some expression coming from her newborn. In the moment, so she explained, it was just a crying, pooping feeding mess.

    Soon after “Smells like Teen Spirit” came on the TV. When Kurt screamed “here we are now, entertain us” I broke out into laughter, unknown why to our host.

    Looks like not all of us should have children but I am sure that you and Pauline were perfect for the job.

    • Nice story, Rainer. 🙂

      We weren’t and aren’t perfect parents, but we did (and do) our best and tried very hard, and I’m satisfied that we have done a good job.

  4. I liked Teen Spirit but the rest of Mr Cobain’s ouevre leaves me cold.

  5. Marya

    Hello Brendan .. yes, music is so highly emotive and has such power over our thoughts and emotions that sometimes even the unexpected sound of a chord or refrain reaching us from the open window of a passing car, for example, can impale our heart with pain.

    I hope you have recovered now from your recent operation.

    Marya x

  6. Cymbeline

    I have never been a great one for music, probably because there is too much clashing going on in my head to need to add to the din. However, today, I was walking and feeling sad, and I came across a band playing in the street. Drums, cymbals simple beat, and people singing. The drums hit a place somewhere in my mind, and I started to feel more … upbeat.

    In the Caribbean, I was always aware of the importance of the beat of a drum – their carnivals are all to do with chasing away the human tragedy still dwelling in some very very dark and frightening corners of the atavistic mind.

    • Re para 1 … yes, it can do that. I generally find that simple music is best.

      Re para 2 … nicely put. Reminds me of an Irish tune called ‘Banish Misfortune’ … played here by an English guitarist.

  7. Cymbeline

    Thank you for the piece of music. I like the title; in fact I love it, but the music is too complicated to touch my mind.

    On the 11th November, I was walking in the street and feeling sad again. Thinking about all the boys and men who have died, thinking about your loss. I was walking with a poppy in my buttonhole, and another poppy in my pocket. I was walking to the cathedral to leave the pocket poppy beneath a stone plaque I had seen there – written in English to the fallen soldiers of the British Empire in the Great War.

    On the way, I passed a girl in a kilt, playing bagpipes. I stopped and listened. Terrible racket of course. I stood there and saw she was wearing a poppy. A Scottish girl in France. I touched my poppy, and she nodded her head, and carried on puffing all her breath of life into the bagpipes.

    I carried on, sobbing. Must snap out of this pall.

    • Sometimes the poignancy of life … the human condition … can hit us hard. If our guard is down, I suppose. Sadness and sweetness combined … melancholy. Still, it’s great to be alive.

      Pauline and I were out walking the dogs, and talking about Sean and how a big part of the sweetness has gone out of our lives now. We were such a happy family … everything seemed so perfect, and any troubles were small ones.

      A woman down the road whom we know well said that she saw Sean and Clio out walking the dogs on that last day, and that she and her husband would have stopped the car to chat except that they were in a bit of a hurry. She wishes now that they had stopped.

      She says that they looked so happy, and were such a good-looking couple.

        • Cymbeline

          My guard about the human condition is never down. I pay a great price for that. Much happiness is forfeited.

          The clear and lovely happiness you and your son had, was never under that sort of blight. The glittering gift of gold I spoke about earlier.

        • Thanks, Cymbeline. We did have our moments, but that was inevitable given that we both were stubborn. Too alike, my wife used to say sometimes.

          I hope you will soon be able to disperse the pall you mentioned. You must have a lot to be happy about.

  8. Cymbeline

    Coincidence. One of my daughters is studying the history of art, and she has just asked me to help her with her homework. All to do with how, from Ancient Greece, via the Bible and into the Middle Ages, hearing was considered to be superior to sight, as it was thought to reach both the soul and the mind, transcending the material world of appearances. Greek myths, Jericho and trumpets, Exodus 70, 18 and Psalm 44,11.

    Interesting.

  9. Cymbeline

    The power of music, and also the need to control it.

  10. Cymbeline

    My mother’s side of the family are Methodists. Music is very important to them. Hymns.

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