My first time: Nirvana

A touching photo book remembers Kurt Cobain by asking fans how they were first introduced to his music

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Dave was my cover boyfriend in high school. He introduced me to Nirvana and mushrooms. He carved my name into his arm with a razor blade and when I tried to break up with him, he read me a love poem over the phone. Courtesy of Here Press

April 5 marked 20 years since Kurt Cobain took his own life. Photographer Jason Lazarus has remembered the musician's work with a book borne from four years of asking friends and strangers how they were first introduced to Nirvana's music. Each of the stories (in the gallery above) demonstrates the way Cobain's legacy spiderwebbed out – how his music touched everyone in seemingly different ways. Each also shows how deeply personal our experience of music is to each of us. Below, Lazarus explains how he began the book, and how he remembers Cobain.

"From 2007 to 2011 I initiated the project with close friends and radiated outward. Nirvana simply redefined everything in 1991 for me (back then I was a virginal sophomore in high school in Kansas City, MO). Nobody was introducing me to alternative culture. I only had MTV at that point, and it was as an umbilical cord. Kurt clearly embodied radically different values, and it was a relief. I discovered Nirvana along with the masses in 1991 – staring at the television late at night when I could listen and watch alone.

"Kurt's life was a tragedy. He was progressive for many of us at that time, he changed the the mainstream. We needed him more than he needed us. All of us in the shapeshifting of youth depend on a rotating cast of mavens to give us alternative bodies of knowledge, where it be cultural, historical, carnal etc. This exchange is sacred."

Nirvana by Jason Lazarus is out now, published by Here Press

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