Monday, February 20, 2017


I've been neglecting this page due to a lot of personal stuff, but I'm up at 3 am doing this in case my internet gets shut off in the morning. If it stays on I will try to catch up to the dozen or so deaths that have happened since the end of January, but right now let's focus on someone's birthday whilst I am still connected.
I can't believe how the time has gone by. It seems only last week, but in reality it has been 23 years since his untimely departure from this pathetic realm we call life. Fifty years ago today he joined the human race for a brief, but ultimately fruitful, stay.
Who was Kurt Cobain? Tortured, unwilling rock star? Prototypical angry young man? Hardcore drug abuser? The Last of the Big Time Songwriters? Tragic "27 Club" member? None, or all, of the above? There are as many answers as there are lingering questions.
One thing is certain: his music definitely leaves a mark, even a quarter century from the moment he put the CD of King Crimson's Red -- the discerning suicidalist's choice -- on the stereo in his attic playroom, shot up smack one last time and then blew his brains all over Seattle. The joke being that Progressive Rock will make anyone want to end their life, rather than endure one more sidelong epic about mountains coming out of the sky in 21/8 time.
All joking aside -- insert comment about who wouldn't want to kill themselves, married to Courtney Love? here -- this is surely one of the most enigmatic figures in the pantheon and the author of way too many now-standard tunes to discount or make light of. I mean, I am not really even a huge fan, but I'm sitting here in the middle of the night doing this.
Everyone knows the backstory: the hopeless and homeless adolescence in Washington State, the ascent to iconic status, the unwilling deification as standard bearer of Grunge rock, the descent to self-destruction. It's hard with anyone who is dead at 27 to pinpoint what might have been, and sometimes even harder to discern what in fact was.
I can't pretend to have any insight; like I said, I am not an expert and only really recognized the extent of his prodigious talents when that insane "MTV Unplugged" broadcast aired and altered everyone's molecular structure. By then, he was only weeks away from his ugly demise.
I remember the news reports from this Italian tour -- an smoldering gig of which you'll find at the bottom of this page -- where he OD'd and had to be put into the hospital near death. It seemed like days later he had escaped from rehab and ended his life in that playroom above the garage. It all happened very fast, like an inexorable tidal wave of doom.
I remember thinking about why this wretched world can't ever seem to take care of people like him... about how they are inevitably surrounded by the vampires who want what they have but don't have the talent or the skills to get it for themselves. About how this world seems to love what they do, but doesn't seem to love them. About how all too often they are stripped bare and sacrificed on the twin altars of ephemeral, fleeting fame and empty, nurtureless fortune.
More than anything, I remember thinking how awful it was that his then-newborn daughter would never know her father, himself an idol to millions who also never knew him. Or at least him as he really was, beyond the hypefest of the music industry and its army of vampires. About how she would be taken care of for life, in a way her dad never would be, and how that was no substitute for the presence of family in the life of a child.
It all seems so very long ago, yet so fresh and recent somehow. Most of all, I remember thinking that this person was my age, and how fragile it all can be, and how it can all go to waste in the flicker of an eyelash or the pull of the shotgun trigger. Now that we've both turned 50 -- me last October, him today -- it seemed appropriate to put him amongst the giants I feature here, and acknowledge his lasting, eternal impact on the music of our era.
Rome, Italy
(JWB remaster)

01 Radio Friendly Unit Shifter
02 Drain You
03 Breed
04 Serve the Servants
05 Come As You Are
06 Smells Like Teen Spirit
07 Sliver
08 Dumb
09 Run to the Hills (Jam)
10 In Bloom
11 About a Girl
12 Lithium
13 Pennyroyal Tea
14 School
15 Polly
16 Very Ape
17 Lounge Act
18 Rape Me
19 Territorial Pissings
20 All Apologies
21 On a Plain
22 Scentless Apprentice
23 Heart-Shaped Box
24 Demolition (Jam)

Total time: 1:15:47

Kurt Cobain - guitar & vocals
Krist Novoselic - bass
Dave Grohl - drums
Melora Creager - cello

JWB remaster of the bootleg CD "XXII II MCMXCIV," containing the only complete soundboard-sourced recording of the "In Utero" tour
This is a very representative tape of this band despite the downward spiral and the sonics rate an 11 out of 10, thanks to the efforts of the estimable audio boffin known as JWB... I altered nothing but the titles and tags of the files and the accompanying explanatory text. All in all, as tasty-sounding as an official release and a fairly definitive window into what made and continues to make Nirvana so revered. Pull it down and as you do, please celebrate the 50th birthday of Kurt Cobain, who didn't last long on our sorry world, but contributed mightily to our enjoyment of it nonetheless.--J.
2.20.1967 - 4.5.1994

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