Tuesday, November 05, 2002

THE LIVE ON THE DEAD: Pete Townshend was charged by The Observer with reviewing Kurt Cobain's journals. "'I hope I die before I become Pete Townshend,' wrote Kurt Cobain in his journal in the middle of one of his rants against the rock press establishment. Why? Because I had become a bore? Because I had failed to die young? Because I had become conventional? Or, simply because I had become old?. No, Pete, it's because you've turned into a self-satisfied bore, as your review shows repeatedly:
" If this sounds rather professorial, that's me, the first proprietor of the rock academy of lyric analysis." God, no wonder Daltrey chooses to spend time with his fish rather than with you. He uses punk to describe Nirvana - in quotation marks.
"What follows appear to be the scribblings of a crazed and depressed drug-addict in the midst of what those of us who have been through drug rehab describe as 'stinking thinking'" Well, there's an insight. Who'd imagine that Kurt's personal thoughts would have revealed that?
"If the first draft words for 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' are here somewhere, I'm not sure I could find them without help. I believe that there are actually three drafts in this book. But the song on the CD is clear, outstanding, dark, ironic, amusing and disturbing at once. It occurs to me that somewhere along the way, in the business that passed between his first infantile scribblings and the rehearsals and recording studio sessions with his band members, Kurt Cobain had a lot of help to reorganise, focus and realise his ideas."
Did it occur to you that maybe Smells Like Teen Spirit was a song, and to look at the work in progress gives you exactly that - a work that isn't finished, that is still being refined? If I read the margin notes and scribbles on Post-Its you made as you lumbered towards your review of this book, I dare say it would seem to be full of half-thoughts and ideas you later abandoned. I'd suggest you don't buy the DVD version of the Matrix, Pete - it might hurt you to discover that Trinty was held up by strings. And, erm, yes - the rest of the band would have had some sort of input into the finished article. That's what bands do, isn't it?
" I sometimes get letters from people who write and draw like Cobain. I put them in a file marked 'Loonies', just in case they try to sue me in the future for stealing their ideas."
Curious, you believe these people to be mad and worthy only of being ignored and belittled, but you're not quite certain, are you?
"There is some insider interest generated by some of the images. On page 139, there is a small cartoon of a baby swimming underwater, obviously the inspiration for the cover of Nevermind . But that art was redeemed because the face of the child was happy and free. Cobain's cartoon is captioned: 'Sell the kids for food'. No irony here. In a world plagued by the abuse of children, it is depressing, because what troubles Kurt was and is still real."
It's intertesting that Pete is so self-important that he believes knowing what the cover of one of the best selling albums of the 1990s looks like makes him an "insider." And what does "the art was redeemed" mean? Does he mean that its a naked child underwater, which is, you know, a bit Gary Glitter, like, only the kid's smiling so its alright, then? And doesn't even a fleeting moment of clarity offer Townshend that in the cartoon, maybe Kurt is commenting on the world rather than offering a Gordon Brown style solution to child poverty? If he thinks that the Nevermind sleeve is of a "happy and free" child, I suppose its possible that it doesn't. But does it never occur to Pete to wonder why the baby on the album sleeve is chasing a dollar bill?
"That this should be muddled with his resentments, his political naivety and his extraordinary self-obsession (he worried at one time that he was lactating because his nipples were always sore) is simply sad"...
"When Cobain was in deep trouble with heroin addiction in 1993, I was visiting New York regularly in connection with my own child-abuse story, Tommy , which had hit Broadway. I met Michael Azerrad who had written Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. Azerrad asked if I would contact Cobain, who was in constant danger of overdosing. I had chosen this year to give booze another gentle try after 11 years. When Azerrad approached me, I was not drunk, nor unsympathetic, but I did not make the necessary judgment I would make today that an immediate 'intervention' was required to save his life."

So, Cobain is self-obsessed because he worries his nipples are leaking milk. What does that make an old fart who clearly believes that his judgement on the state of mind of someone he had never met was the key turning point in Cobain's endgame. Listen, you pillock: His wife couldn't help him. His daughter couldn't help him. What the hell do you think an intervention from someone he didn't want to turn into would have done?

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