Was the Song “Hey Man, Nice Shot” Inspired by Kurt Cobain’s Suicide?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MUSIC URBAN LEGEND: Filter’s “Hey Man, Nice Shot” was about the real life suicide of Kurt Cobain.

Besides finding satanic references in various band names and songs, people like looking for pretty much any sort of odd references in the lyrics of songs.

When it came to Filter’s 1995 hit “Hey Man, Nice Shot,” though, folks did not really need much reading into the lyrics to know that the song was about a suicide.

The song, which appeared on their 1995 album Short Bus…

included the lyrics:

I wish I would’ve met you;
now it’s a little late.
What you could’ve taught me,
I could’ve saved some face.
They think that your early ending was all wrong;
for the most part they’re right,
but look how they all got strung.

That’s why I say, “Hey man, nice shot.”
“What a good shot, man.”

So it’s pretty clearly about suicide.

However, fans soon felt that the band was not just referencing a typical suicide with their song, but specifically the suicide of the prior year of Nirvana front man, Kurt Cobain (seen below)…

Cobain killed himself in the middle of 1994, so when a song pops up the very next year (just a little over a year later) talking about suicide, then people are gonna figure that you’re talking about Kurt Cobain.

However, other fans also thought that the song was about the 1987 suicide of Pennsylvania State Treasurer Budd Dwyer.

Why you would automatically think of Budd Dwyer is beyond me, but even odder is that they were RIGHT!

The song was, in fact, written in honor (if you want to use that term) of Dwyer.

Dwyer, you see, was the State Treasurer of Pennsylvania, and he was also more than a little bit…how do you say…corrupt?

He accepted roughly $300,000 in kickbacks for allowing a multi-million dollar state accounting job to go to a specific accounting firm (the conspiracy was wider than just Dwyer – the Chairman of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania also went down for the charge).

Dwyer fought the charges heavily, but he was convicted. Oddly enough, he was allowed to continue to be the State Treasurer until his actual sentencing (some weird bit of state law).

In early 1987, one day before his sentencing, Dwyer called for a press conference where he would “update” people on the situation. After a rambling speech about how he was innocent but he was certain he would be railroaded by the judge the next day, he then had his assistants take some envelopes (an organ donor card, a suicide note for his wife and a note to the incoming Governer of Pennsylvania).

Dwyer then took out a handgun.

Amid shouts from the crowd, he told the audience “Please leave the room if this will affect you.”

And as people kept shouting for him not to do it, and some tried to approach him, he warned them “Don’t, don’t, don’t, this will hurt someone.”

He then placed the gun in his mouth and shot himself. He was declared dead on the scene.

Anyhow, the guys from Filter did acknowledge in 1996 that the song was about Dwyer.

In a statement they released to the press, they said:

The song ‘Hey Man Nice Shot’ is a reaction to a well-documented public suicide. It is not a celebration or glorification of taking one’s own life. The phrase ‘hey man, nice shot’ is a reference to the final act itself, an expression of guts and determination of a person standing up for what they believe is right. We are extremely sensitive and respectful to the family and friends of Mr. Dwyer. We have both lost friends to suicide and felt nothing but sympathy and loss for the victims, and those involved in such a tragedy.

Pretty weird stuff…

The legend is…


Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

4 Responses to “Was the Song “Hey Man, Nice Shot” Inspired by Kurt Cobain’s Suicide?”

  1. If you do want to see Dwyer’s final speech or even the whole event, captured by camera – look on YT.
    But I WARN YOU – the suicide video is real and may be shocking for some to see. And don’t whine afterwards in the comment section that you weren’t aware!

  2. […] The line of people stretched down the block in the cold on West 43rd Street in Manhattan for a chance to get inside the Town Hall Theater and say goodbye to the great bassist Charlie Haden. The memorial nearly filled the … Was the Song “Hey Man, Nice Shot” Inspired by Kurt … […]

  3. “However, fans soon felt that the band (seen below)…”

    No wonder people thought they were singing about Kurt Cobain, that picture makes them look dead ringers for Nirvana!

  4. You may want to consider editing your article and remove your description of him as “corrupt.” He was actually an honorable man in many ways, and the star witness against him later admitted he lied under oath. Dwyer was offered a plea deal with a much lighter sentence, but opted not to take it because he truly thought justice would prevail in court. After it didn’t, he exhausted every other option he felt he had, including asking President Reagan for a pardon, to no avail. He was technically still in office on the day he died- he would have been removed from office at his sentencing the next day- so by killing himself when he did, he ensured that A) he wouldn’t have to go to prison for a crime he didn’t commit and B) his wife would be eligible to collect a sizable pension since he was a state employee at the time of his death. I think he saw prison as her losing him AND being financially destitute, while death would mean losing him AND being able to provide financial security for her.

    Honestly, I think he was also delusional in his desperation, given the fact that he recommended in a letter to the new governor that his wife succeed him in the position of treasurer- how could she possibly do that? Work the same job he had in the very office where he killed himself? Not to mention the fact that the financial security in no way made up for the emotional devastation she would face. But he truly did care for others, even until the very end. As a few people tried to get near him to take away the gun, his last words were “Don’t, don’t, don’t, this will hurt someone, don’t,” because he wanted to cause harm to no one but himself.

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