Burntout.com - A website for Kurt Cobain and Nirvana

Tom Grant The So Called Suicide Note

After all the lies and inconsistencies prior to the discovery of the body, my first question when I read the note was, "Did Kurt write this?" It took some time to be sure, but I eventually determined he did.

I believe he wrote the whole thing, with the possible exception of the line at the end which reads, "which will be so much happier without me." Upon close examination, the thickness of the line print in these words, (on the copy I made from Courtney's fax machine), appears to be thinner than the line print in the rest of the note. This may indicate a different writing instrument, less pen pressure, or a different "writer" altogether.

Several handwriting experts have examined this letter and their opinions about these last words differ. As far as I'm concerned, this "added line" theory is not a critical issue.

There's a substantial amount of evidence to prove Kurt was leaving Courtney. Her constant verbal abuse and criticism had convinced him he was a bad influence on his daughter.

If he DID write this line, he was simply indicating he thought Frances would be better off away from what he perceived to be his "bad influence."

Could it have been a "suicide" note? I wasn't sure at first. But as I reviewed my notes, studied the case, and continued gathering information over the next several months while working with Courtney, I concluded with complete confidence, this was NOT a "suicide" note. This was a note to Kurt's fans explaining his decision to quit the music business, to stop touring and to stop performing.

Read the contents carefully. Here was a guy who cared about his fans. Here was a guy with compassion. He had a drug habit, he had some flaws, but he seemed to care about others more than he cared about himself.

Is this a letter from a self-centered father who had no concern for his daughter? Does this sound like someone who didn't care about the images he'd be leaving his little girl -- images of violence and physical destruction that Frances would be forced to visualize the rest of her life whenever she thought about her dad?

Are these observations alone proof that Kurt Cobain did not commit suicide? No. Just something to think about as you try to understand what was on Kurt's mind when he wrote this letter.

To Boddah pronounced

Speaking from the tongue of an experienced simpleton who obviously would rather be an emasculated, infantile camplainee. This note should be pretty easy to understand. All the warnings from the punk rock 101 courses over the years. Since my first introduction to the, shall we say, ethics involved with independence and the embracement of your community has proven to be very true. I haven't felt the exitement of listening to as well as creating music along with reading and writing for too many years now. I feel guilty beyond words about these things. For example when we're backstage and the lights go out and the manic roar of the crowd begins it doesn't affect me the way in which it did for Freddy 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 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. I 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 enthusiasm I once had as a child. On our last three tours I've had a much better appreciation for all the people I've known personally and as fans of our music, but I still can't get over the frustration, the guilt and empathy I have for everyone. There's good in all of us All of Us - CD-Singleand I think I simply love people too much. So much that it makes me feel too fucking sad. The sad little, sensitive, unappreciative, pisces, Jesus man! Why don't you just enjoy it? I don't know. I have a goddess of a wife who sweats ambition and empathy and a daughter who reminds me too much of what I used to be. Full of love and joy kissing every person she meets because everyone is good and will do her no harm. And that terrifies me to the point to where I can barely function. I can't stand the thought of Frances becoming the miserable self-destructive, death rocker that I've become. I have it good, very good, and I'm grateful, but since the age of seven I've become hateful towards all humans in general. Only because it seems so easy for people to get along, and have empathy. Empathy! Only because I love and feel for people too much I guess. Thank you all from the pit of my burning nauseous stomach for your letters and concern during the past years. I'm too much of an erratic, moody baby! I don't have the passion anymore and so remember, its better to burn out than to
fade away. peace, love, empathy. Kurt Cobain
Frances and Courtney, I'll be at your alter.
Please keep going Courtney
for Frances
for her life which will be so much happier
without me. I Love you. I love you!


Some writers claim the letter doesn't make much sense. This is because they're reading it in the context of a "suicide" note. Once you realize it's simply a retirement letter, it all comes together. It makes perfect sense.

IMAGINE FOR A MOMENT that Kurt is alive and well. His band broke up and he moved away from Seattle. All performances have been canceled. Now read the letter again.

IMAGINE Kurt wrote it to explain his decision to his fans.

Why does it all make so much sense now? Because that's precisely why his note was written!!


In an article written a couple of years ago, Wendy O' Conner, Kurt's mother indicates Kurt had an imaginary childhood friend named "Bodah." After Kurt's death, a reprint of this article appeared in the new Rolling Stone book about Cobain. The spelling of this name in the reprint was changed to Boddah, matching the spelling of the name on the "note."

According to our preliminary research, the addition of the word" pronounced" after the name Boddah on the "note" seems to indicate this was a spiritual reference to Kurt's beliefs in Buddhism. Although it may appear to some who have nounderstanding of Buddhism that this was like addressing a letter to God, the terms used here would more accurately be interpreted as, "to all who are enlightened."

This theory certainly makes more sense than the idea that he would address a note to an imaginary childhood friend, only to proceed to talk to his fans, those who understood him and his ideals... those who are "enlightened."

The important thing here is the body of the note. The body of the note clearly indicates who this note was written to. This note does not belong to Courtney Love. It was written to Kurt's fans. It BELONGS to Kurt's fans.


What did he mean by: "the... ethics involved with independence and the embracement of your community has proven to be very true." ?

I believe Kurt was saying he'd been warned about greed, corruption and exploitation in the music industry. He was saying these "warnings" had proven to be true. This realization robbed him of the excitement he once experienced while playing and performing in earlier years.

When MTV broadcast the reading of portions of this note by Courtney, the caption displayed on the screen for another line in the letter read, "I HAD it good." The actual note reads "I HAVE it good." A subtle but distinct difference in revealing the mental state of the writer.

What about the line at the end of the body of the note? "I don't have the passion anymore and so remember, it's better to burn out than to fade away."

This has always been a commonly used phrase to describe motivation for retirement. In the entertainment field, it usually refers to quitting while you're on top instead of fading from popularity.

Others also use this phrase to describe their personal decision to retire. I quit the Sheriff's department because I was "burnt out." I was bored. There were no more challenges. I'd done everything I wanted to do on the department including undercover assignments, dune buggy, mountain bike and helicopter patrol. I was a detective at Malibu Sheriff's Station when I made my decision. As far as I was concerned, I had the best job in the county. I had a good reputation, no enemies, no beefs. I was simply "burnt out."

Looking back over the years, I've often regretted that decision. Whether or not you agree, I feel I'm a better detective than I am a businessman. I eventually came back to what I do best. In time, Kurt may have come back too. Of course.... now we'll never know.

What did he mean when he wrote, "Please keep going Courtney, for Frances, for her life...?"

While I was with Courtney at the Peninsula hotel, several days before Kurt's body was found, she said almost exactly the same thing to me. "If he doesn't want to do it, (referring to the Lollapalooza tour), he ought to do it for his baby, for Frances."

Kurt, no doubt, had heard this from Courtney before. He didn't want this lifestyle any more. He didn't care about the money, but he knew money and fame were important to Courtney. So he was telling her, "YOU do it. YOU do it for Frances and for her future."

Although Kurt wanted out of the marriage, he still loved Courtney. He was leaving, but he'd continue to publicly support her. (Refer to the "other note" referenced below and in the Summary Of Events where Kurt says, "I'll be there to protect you.")

Kurt naively believed this would be enough to satisfy her. It would give her the freedom to do what she wanted to do... and it would give him freedom from the BUSINESS of creating his music... something he once enjoyed with the innocence of a true artist.

December, 1994 Issue

As mentioned in the Summary Of Events, during an interview with Rolling Stone's David Fricke, Courtney responds to a probing question about the so-called "suicide" note left at the scene of his death.

D. F. - "Did Kurt's suicide note make any sense to you - that he'd foundany kind of peace in what he was going to do?"

C.L. - "He wrote me a letter other than his suicide note. It's kind of long.

I put it in a safe-deposit box. I might show it to Frances - maybe. It's very f_ked-up writing. 'You know I love you, I love Frances, I'm so sorry. Please don't follow me.' It's long because he repeats himself. 'I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'll be there I'll protect you. I don't know where I'mgoing, I just can't be here anymore.'"

How do I know Kurt was not talking about suicide in THIS letter?

Because of the obvious terminology and... Courtney admits this "other" note was "not really like a suicide note."

On Sunday, April 3rd, when she couldn't find him, Courtney told me she thought Kurt was leaving her. This "other" letter simply confirms what Courtney already knew, but what she never wanted anyone else to know.


After reading in Rolling Stone that Courtney claimed to have another note left to her by Kurt, I was curious where this note was found. Even more important, I WONDERED WHY SHE HADN'T TOLD ME OR THE PRESS ABOUT IT!

On January 19, 1995, Courtney and I talked on the phone for over an hour.

Following is a transcript of the discussion we had about this "other" note.

TG - What about the other note? You mentioned in Rolling Stone about another note that he wrote to you.

CL - It's like a letter and it's not really like a suicide note. It's like, it seems more like, it was like in a sealed envelope, and it was just like to me, and it seems like he wrote it in rehab.

TG - Where'd you find it?

CL - It was in my bedroom, under my pillows.

TG - Under your pillows?

CL - Yeah, and I didn't tell anybody about it but Rosemary and uh, I told Sgt. Cameron about it.

TG - Yeah...

CL - I let him see it, um...

TG - There's only one problem with that, Courtney.

CL - What ?

TG - I looked under your pillows.

CL - Well...

TG - Just like we looked under your mattresses.

CL - It was there.

TG - That's how I found the Rohipnal, between your mattresses. That note wasn't under your pillows on the bed.

CL - Tom, it was... and I showed it to Sgt. Cameron, and he can prove it. I own it. I'll show it to you. Whatever you... if you want to see it.

TG - Yeah, I'd like to see it. I'd like to see it. But what I'm telling you is, it was not there the night before the body was found, or the night before that. Because we, you know, you can ask Dylan about this, we picked the pillows up. We were looking for drugs. We looked under the mattresses. That's where the Rohipnal was. There was no note in an envelope.

CL - It was like right... right..., it was ah... it was in ah... it was in along legal envelope, white envelope, that was sealed. It had my name on it and it was definitely in Kurt's writing, and it was right under my pillows.

TG - Yeah, Ok.

CL - Like, I have a bunch of pillows on that bed... it was right there.

TG - All I can say to that, Courtney is: If you say so!


Did Courtney really tell Rosemary Carroll about this "other" note?

Not likely. At least not for several months. Rosemary was initially furnishing me with evidence that implicated Courtney in Kurt's death. She would have told me about this "other note" if she knew about it.

Did Courtney show it to Sgt. Cameron?

I don't know. But if she did, it should have been booked into evidence and it should have been listed in the police reports. The fact that it wasn't indicates either Courtney is lying or the police have covered up the information about this "other" note.


One was to his fans explaining his decision to quit performing. The other was to his wife explaining his decision to leave her. Neither of the notes was suicidal!

One of these notes was deliberately concealed from me and from the public while Courtney pretended to encourage me to investigate Kurt's death! Why conceal the second note? Because when read together, the second note would prove the first note was NOT a "suicide" note!

When and where did Kurt actually write these two letters? I'll have more to say about that in the future.

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