This video stands out to me because of how tough, and kind-hearted, and because of the practical advice in 2Chainz verses. Hell yes they need to pay cash money for putting us through this.
I love the background rhythm that sounds kind of like sonar, like I’m in a submarine. I love how Nicki Minaj puts people in her videos who are very beautiful, and at the same time, very real-looking. When I first saw this video I felt confused, isolated, and afraid. Hearing the song and seeing video made me feel safer, and a lot less alone. Since then, without ever speaking directly to or about me, Nicki Minaj has said and done many things make me feel, and more importantly, help me BE safer and stronger. I am very touched by and extremely grateful for her persistence and courage.
With the BEEZ TRAP brass knuckles, Ms Minaj is hollering back to 1989 and the movie Do The Right Thing, and the character which I very much believe was modeled on Chris Newman, Raheem. (Spoiler: Raheem is killed by police after having his prized radio smashed to bits by the owner of a pizza shop.)
The primary mirror here is that I (Erika) am in their trap, “Eye Beez” in the trap… and bees. Bees. The bees are in a trap of their own making. That’s the Hive Dwellers in Olympia, Washington and Mudhoney in Seattle, Washington. They are bees, and they, and whoever is funding them, owe me hella dollars. And they owe Chris hella hella hella dollars.
I met Kurt at a club in L.A. right before Nevermind came out. We took a picture and he said, “Come on, let’s give the finger!” So we did.
– Iggy Pop, Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Artists.
(Note: Run your pointer over the boldface words for more info if your browser is equipped to display definitions or additional information in “title” attributes.)
It’s difficult to start writing about rape, and all the time it shows up in grunge lyrics, and especially, videos. And by “grunge” I am talking about a specific community of musicians who got their start in the Pacific Northwest during the 1980s.
It’s difficult in part because everyone (even me – a little bit) wants to stay in denial, but more so because the rape imagery is so pervasive. It’s pervasive enough to make me think that a literal rape occurred. And that the victim was Kurt Cobain.
If this is true, Cobain’s 1994 suicide doesn’t make everything “ok.” Even if you don’t think the dead deserve justice, there are related crimes which continue to this day, including the continuing exploitation of Chris Newman (who is not, in fact, dead), the decade-plus smear campaign against Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, and the fact that Cobain’s daughter Francis has to live, without a father, under a cloud of lies. From my perspective, the truth is vital.
I already wrote a bit about two of Hole’s songs, Burn Black and Dicknail. Maybe the next logical thing to do is to go straight to the source and write about Nirvana’s rape songs, especially since Kurt Cobain went to such lengths to finger someone.
The key to Nirvana – and Mudhoney – rape songs is the song “Sweet Young Thing” by the Monkees.
In the TV performance of the song, the Monkees perform “Sweet Young Thing,” (1966) elderly people dance around, take turns in wheelchairs, etc. In the circus mirror, (uninitiated) innocence is represented by old age.
More notable are the lyrics:
And it’s love you bring,
No that I can’t deny,
With your wings,
I can learn to fly,
Sweet young thing.
People try to talk to me
Their words are ugly sounds
But I resist all their attempts
To try and bring me down.
Turned on to the sunset
Like I’ve never done before
And I listen for your footsteps
And your knock upon the door.
21 years later, in 1987, Mudhoney wrote a song with the same title (Sweet Young Thing), though this time the hook was “sweet young thing ain’t sweet no more.” It’s a snarly, sinister-sounding song about the end of innocence, shown by the lines “mommy’s little pills spilled all over the floor” and “mama can’t handle her on her own, she said ‘you just wait ’till your father gets home.'” It might be worth noting that the word “pills” sounds like “bills” on the Superfuzz Bigmuff version of the song. (Sweet Young thing full lyrics) Indeed – when you’ve got dogs, pigs, and ducks chasing you, you know there are big bills involved. (Ask Lady Gaga.)
Another contemporary Mudhoney song (also on the Superfuzz Bigmuff EP) which seems related is “Sliding In And Out Of Grace.”
Cry for mercy, relieve my hate
Sliding in ‘n’ out of grace
Spill my seed, suck my waste
Sliding in ‘n’ out of grace
Oh God, how I love to hate
Sliding in ‘n’ out of grace
Save me Lord, and fuck the race… etc (full lyrics)
Songs performed later, mainly by Courtney Love, suggest that “Sliding In And Out of Grace” was specifically about Kurt Cobain. The word “grace” comes up in a couple of her songs which I believe are about Kurt, most notably “Northern Star,” but also “Happy Ending Story” and in some of the live performances she’s done. In fact, I believe that “Northern Star” matches Courtney’s more recently penned “Honey.” I believe that both of those songs were written not about twins, but about triplets. Three other songwriters: Kurt Cobain, Chris Newman, and Mark Arm.
Anyone who really pays attention to Courtney’s lyrics, videos, and live performances would have a hard time missing the subtext she’s been weaving in since day one. But the ringleaders work hard to re-direct your attention anywhere but where you should be looking. That is, I believe, the reason for the seemingly never-ending smear campaign against Courtney Love.
Around 1990 (same era as Hole’s songs “Dicknail” and “Burn Black”), Kurt Cobain wrote two very important songs dealing with rape and abuse. One was written from the perspective of a kidnapper and rapist experiencing what seems to be dissociated shreds of empathy, and appeared on the 1991 album Nevermind. It is called “Polly.” The other was written, sarcastically, from the perspective of a rape victim. It was called “Rape Me,” and though, like Polly, it was said to be written around 1990, it didn’t appear on an album until 1993’s In Utero. There is a third song that is connected, which I’ll just mention in passing, and it is “Negative Creep.” Negative Creep, with it’s chorus of “Daddy’s little girl ain’t a girl no more” is clearly a response to the Mudhoney song “Sweet Young Thing Ain’t Sweet No More.” The fact that every single rock critic has missed that most obvious point for the past quarter of a century ought to suggest that something is really fucking stinky in Denmark. And everywhere else, too.
In any case, I believe that in all of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love’s songs, “Daddy” is Mudhoney’s Mark Arm. (With or without a “twin.”)
The name “Polly” means “parrot,” going back to the 16th or 17th century (OED), and the classic phrase “Polly want a cracker” makes the parrot reference undeniable. The distinctive characteristics of parrots are imitation. (They also tend to be yellow and green – “sun” colors. – see lexicon) Because the “night club” reflects and imitates the sun, and because the grunge myth is tightly controlled (everyone has a script from which no one ever deviates) Cobain was forced to “parrot” the party line. “Speak at once while taking turns” is the way he described it in a later song, Radio Friendly Unit Shifter. The parrot reference is the reason I think that Polly is specifically about Kurt Cobain, written from a place of dissociation. Dissociation is what happens when you experience severe abuse. Though Polly is also a “mirror” song. I couldn’t call it a “twin” song because there are multiple images in this mirror. It’s a POLY-MIRROR. (See how Kurt does that? EVERY. WORD. MATTERS. and sometimes every letter.)
The poly subjects are all crime victims and/or perpetrators: Chris Newman (as usual); and the 14 year old girl (who’s name was not actually Polly); and Kurt Cobain. Also the perpetrator/s of the respective crimes. I believe there are 5 subjects in Polly. And by that I mean that I believe that the crimes against Kurt Cobain and Chris Newman had the same perpetrator.
I also believe that Kurt Cobain was using the news story upon which he based the song as a metaphor for something that had happened to him (very possibly an actual rape), and something that he wanted to happen: escape from an untenable situation, and ultimately, justice.
Friend had picked her up near the Tacoma Dome in his car after she had attended a rock concert. She was able to earn his trust and sympathy by convincing him she enjoyed it. She managed to escape when he stopped for gas. She got out of the vehicle and made a scene attracting attention from surrounding people. – from Wikipedia Polly_(song)
Polly was saved, I guess because the “surrounding people” had no investment in her continuing captivity and/or silence. Kurt Cobain was and Chris Newman is in a different situation.
The perpetrator of the incident that inspired the song “Polly,” Gerald Friend, was thought at the time to be the Green River killer. (Wikipedia: Gerald Arthur Friend)
Green River, of course, was name of the first band to sign with Sub Pop, fronted by Mark Arm. In 1988 Green River essentially split into two bands: Pearl Jam and Mudhoney.
In terms Kurt’s “other” rape song, Rape Me, there are lines like “my favorite inside source, I’ll kiss your open sores” (suggests someone with a hidden heroin or other syringe-drug habit), “you’ll always stink and burn” (recalls a Sylvia Plath line “turn and burn” which in turn recalls the position of the hanged man, which is the sun), and then there are some very notable lines, like “rape me – hate me – waste me – taste me.” “Hate me” reflects a line from Mudhoney’s aforementioned “Grace” song, “Oh God how I love to hate.”
If you listen carefully to the song, Rape Me, Cobain is singing “I’m not the only one,” but he’s also slurring into “I want the only one.”
January 6, 1989. My friend David Ackerman took these photos 25 years ago today here Portland, Oregon at the Satyricon. David’s photos are the only ones which have been published from this show. Mudhoney was headlining, Nirvana was opening. It was Nirvana’s first out of state show. Courtney Love can be seen in two of the photos. In one photo, she’s posing near the stage as the bands are switching. In another, she’s watching Mudhoney play. (I’d love to identify the rest of the people in the audience shots – drop me a line if you can help.) The photos are available for licensing or as fine art prints (contact me). They should not be used without permission or credit.
Mudhoney are less known for their rapey lyrics and better known for witty onstage banter.
They also love to gloat.
One way that Mark Arm gloats (and gives himself away), is in the way he introduces songs onstage. This is illustrated by the following videos.
The first video was taken in Berlin 2009. Before playing Sweet Young Thing Ain’t Sweet No More (a song I believe is for Kurt) Arm comments, “It was very nice to see Kurt Cobain up here a little while ago. Welcome back Kurt. You’re shorter than I remember.”
The second video is from a performance in Sheffield, 1992. Before playing Blinding Sun (a song I believe is about Chris Newman – though I think the “you” in the song is Kurt Cobain), Arm tells the audience they sound like a bunch of “British Walruses.” (Steve “Instant Newman” Turner finds this hilarious.) And just before launching into the song, Arm says, “We don’t understand why you’re calling us ‘fat.'”
The Final Course is another perspective on our ongoing saga. When Arm says (on the album version of the song) we drank our “wine vintage 1953,” he is once again talking about Chris Newman, who was born in 1953. (In the Space Needle performance seems like Arm changed that phrase to “till there was nothing left to drink.”)
I stared into a belly through the eyes of a beast
Made a toast to life and commenced to feast
We chewed up leafy greens till our mouths were oozing foam
Devoured mounds of meat, sucking marrow from the bone
Washed it down with wine vintage 1953
Leaned back in our chairs, sucked our gums, and picked our teeth
Gazing at her belly I watched the unfolding of time
Stricken by a…? there’s no way that child is mine!
Silence gripped the table ’till the sobbing began
Her consoling and my scolding from the wives of all the men
Who stared down at their plates, faces flushing red
The women all demanded a platter with my head
The knowledge in my head fed the anger in my heart
The throbbing in my hands meant that choking soon would start
I grabbed the throat of the nearest shrew, she was sitting to my right
Someone brained me with a skillet – BOOM BOOM – out go the lights.
I was watching from above my body, face down on the floor
They gathered around my carcass, gasping in horror
“What do we do about the body?” someone cried
I heard that without a body there can be no trial
Their demeanor quickly changed and they all got down to work
And that is how it is I who became the final course.
There’s a slight tie between this song and Hole’s 1991 song, Burn Black, that being the idea of floating above your own body. The final verse describes the cover up of a crime scene. Or maybe two crime scenes.
See, that’s the kind of thing we need to put an end to.
The song right before it, Chardonnay, is a burn song for Courtney Love, obviously.
All these lonely lovely ladies
Keep on kockin’ on my door
I’m the only game in town
And it’s so easy to score
– Mudhoney “Hard On For War”
from Under A Billion Suns 2006
The Grunge Myth is a swiss-cheese version of northwest music history. Some of the holes in this cheese have had a significant impact on the lives of artists and other human beings. I believe that the band name HOLE directly relates to this. Obviously, there was not a “history” when Hole was formed – but there was a hole. A rift. A recess. The whole town of Portland, Oregon dwells in that hole, and at the very bottom, lies the sun.
We live in upside-down land. We live behind the looking glass.
Once you begin to learn the magicians’ slight-of-hand tricks, it becomes easier to see what is going on. If they say “look HERE” – you have to look in the opposite direction. If they say “don’t look there” – that is exactly where to look. I mean, if you care about the truth.
Another thing that they know is how effective flattery is in the entertainment industry. Flattery is essential to the “divide and conquer” star machine. It is a sugary poison poured into the ear used to soften and sometimes, to misdirect.
Naive musicians hungry for attention get so caught up in their own alleged awesomeness that they fail to recognize – or care – when the same industry players slander, dismiss, burn, and bury their neighbor. Or worse, they buy the anti-hype and join right in with the scapegoating. Now they’ve got us fighting ourselves. Then they come in to “rescue” some of us, while ensuring the others continue to drown. To add insult to injury, they pretend to be “experts” on us, when in fact, their whole goal is, and has always been, to conquer us.
The humor for which they are so famous is used to sweeten the experience – at least for them. Too often, the humor itself is cruel, even to the point of being abusive. They seem to care a great deal about being funny, and almost nothing about the lives of human beings. “There are many here among us / Who feel that life is but a joke.”
Too many people just want to be on the side that’s winning. That, of course, would be the side of money, power, and manufactured credibility.
That’s how they are winning a war that we can’t even seem to recognize exists.
HARD ON FOR WAR – MUDHONEY Under a Billion Suns 2006
Can you hear the little girls asking
Daddy where have all the little boys gone
The little girls, they ask me
Daddy where have all the little boys gone
They don’t tease us in classroom
They don’t meet us at the mall
The little boys are fighting
They have left us all behind
The little boys are dying
To preserve our way of life
It’s our patriotic duty
To make sweet love tonight
See these lovely lonesome ladies
They don’t ignore me anymore
All these lonely lovely ladies
Keep on kockin’ on my door
I’m the only game in town
And it’s so easy to score
Now i know why dirty old men are always pushin’ for war
Now i know why dirty old men are always pushin’ for war
I’ve become a dirty old man with a hard-on for war
Those who control The Grunge Myth are very concerned with dates. Specifically, who met whom when. Anyone who has read Everett True’s NIRVANA: The True Story knows that True has devoted a lot of space to his claim that he introduced Kurt and Courtney to each other for the first time in Los Angeles 1991. Everett True claims that Courtney was dating Eric Erlandson in 1990, and that she met Kurt in 1991 while she was pursuing Billy Corgan in 1991. Or something along those lines.
Similarly, there is confusion around when Kurt Cobain and Mark Arm first met. Everett True avoids putting a date on this, while Charles Cross’s biography indicates they first met in 1990. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that 1990 is so far off as to be a red flag marking a big lie – not manufactured by Cross, but by the myth-managers. I believe Kurt Cobain and Mark Arm knew each other by 1987, if not earlier.
When did Kurt Cobain meet Courtney Love?
I don’t know the answer to this question, but I will say that I think there is a definite interaction between Nirvana, Mudhoney, Hole, and Babes In Toyland lyrics that dates back at least to 1990. Dicknail/Burn Black were said to be written in fall of 1990. Similarly, Nirvana’s song Rape Me was said to have been originally written in 1990. Another anti-rape song, Polly, was supposed to have been written in 1988. So both Hole and Nirvana were writing anti-rape songs by 1990 or earlier. (Mudhoney lyrics also tend to use a lot of rape imagery, but from the opposite perspective.)
When did Kurt Cobain meet Mark Arm?
For a number of reasons, I believe Kurt Cobain met Mark Arm in or before 1987.
This recently surfaced Girl Trouble video suggests as much. Why? Because it shows Mark Arm (twice), it shows Bruce Pavitt, it shows Kurt Cobain’s girlfriend of the time, Tracy Marander, and it shows Slim Moon. It doesn’t show Kurt Cobain who may or may not have been there. But it does show that Kurt Cobain’s neighbors and girlfriend.
There are many reasons why Kurt should have met Mark Arm before 1990. Mark Arm had been going to Napalm Beach shows at least since 1981, and Chris Newman first met Mark Arm probably as early as 1985. Chris Newman met Kurt Cobain around 1988, in Portland. That should give a hint as to how small and close together the northwest music scene was.
In 1987 Sub Pop put out their first vinyl releases. In 1988 they released several more records. According to Sub Pop’s page on the band, Mudhoney’s first release was a single: Touch Me I’m Sick backed with Sweet Young Thing Ain’t Sweet No More. Super Fuzz Big Muff came out in 1988 and Mudhoney in November 1989. Nirvana released Bleach in June of 1989.
January 6, 1989 Mudhoney and Nirvana came down to Portland and played Satyricon together. This was supposedly Nirvana’s first out-of-town show. Courtney Love was at the show. I know this because my friend David took photos of that show (the only photos of that show that exist, I believe) and I took his negatives to be developed. She was definitely there.
Everett True will tell you that Courtney was there to see Mudhoney and she may have not seen Nirvana at all. This may be true, but it’s also clear that there weren’t a lot of people there that night. And Courtney Love does pay attention.
Another important reason that Kurt Cobain would have met Mark Arm well before 1990 is the Melvins connection. Kurt Cobain was connected to the Melvins enough that Cobain and his girlfriend at the time, Tracy (pictured in the Girl Trouble video), are thanked on the back of 1987’s Gluey Porch Treatments. In fact, according to Wikipedia, one of the songs on Gluey Porch Treatments (Leeech) is a re-purposed Green River song (meaning, Mark Arm wrote the lyrics- and with its references to love and sickness and a missing link, I think it’s directed to Courtney).
Another amusingly titled song on Gluey Porch Treatments (recorded in October 1986) is “Steve Instant Newman.” Remember, it’s Mudhoney guitarist Steve Turner who ended up with Chris Newman’s Big Muff.
Lukin left the Melvins and joined Mudhoney in 1988. According to Wikipedia, in 1988, Lukin was also living in a house with Kurt Cobain in Aberdeen. Mudhoney helped found Sub Pop in 1987, and Kurt Cobain was involved with Sub Pop (and therefore, with Mudhoney) by 1988.
It also makes sense that Kurt would have met Mark Arm in the 1980s because Mark seems to have established himself as top dog in the Seattle punk scene by 1986, Green River scoring choice spots opening for national touring acts, and at that point in time, being one of the only northwest underground bands to ever tour. It is natural that the younger up-and-coming band (Nirvana) would want to make contact with the older, more established band.
Finally, image. Between 1987 and 1990 Kurt Cobain was copying Mark Arm’s look (his hairstyles, anyway) and playing a Fender Mustang like Steve Turner.
I first noticed these symbols appearing in a consistent manner in “grunge” songs (Nirvana, Hole, Mudhoney, etc), but I now see that it is an encoded language that predates recorded music (check the lyrics to the folk ballad “House of the Rising Sun” – what’s in the suitcase? who’s in the trunk?). This symbolic language lends itself well to visual representation, so you see it appear in graphic design, television, movies, music videos.
Nothing is more fascinating than a massive secret. I myself have a Masters Degree in English and in all my years at college, no professor ever hinted to me what was the real topic of T.S. Eliot’s most famous poem, The Wasteland. Or of William Carlos Williams’ famous red wheelbarrow.
My best guess is that this is a secret symbolic language belonging to a sect of freemasonry called Illuminati. My main problem with them is their connection to and ignoring of, crime, in particular, crimes against me, my family, and others whom I love – and their unwillingness, so far, to speak with me directly, much less admit or rectify any wrongdoing. And there has been a great deal of wrongdoing: financially, psychologically, socially, and otherwise.
Illuminati seem to me to be tied together in two primary ways, one being money, and the other being the manipulation, observation, and exploitation of a human being designated as “the sun.” The sun sacrifice is, in fact, a criminal situation. So that means that the Illuminati are linked by 1. money and 2. crime. It seems that no one can tap into the Illuminati revenue streams without also participating in, and staying silent about crime (sleeping). And since, from what I have seen, Illuminati control the United States financial systems (and manipulate other systems as well – because you can do a lot of stuff with all that money). That leaves everyone who wants to be financially “successful” in a bit of an ethical dilemma, doesn’t it?
The Illuminati’s secret sun sacrifice is a direct harm to me and to those that I love. In addition, as I began to research this topic, I was tracked, harassed, lied to, gas-lit, spied upon, exploited, violated, threatened, mocked, dogged, hacked, robbed, sabotaged, blackmailed, and finally, kidnapped. And much of this continues to this day. Knowing that the people who are bullying me are actively backed by some of the most powerful human beings on this planet – millionaires and billionaires – and knowing how many artists have suffered and even died because of this, thinking they had no other choice – well – I am not sure the Illuminati deserve quite the level of respect and secrecy to which they seem to feel entitled.
[UPDATE June 19, 2014: I was figuring stuff out as I was writing. It’s obvious by now that these songwriters tap into a symbolic lexicon that pre-dates recorded music.]
Look, I’m just going to do my best. In general is no “right” or “wrong” way to interpret a piece of art, though some interpretations can be supported with evidence and thus ring truer than others. That said, these songwriters seem to have a unique style of communicating to and about each other through lyrics.
The bands that I’m interested in are: Hole, Nirvana, Mudhoney, Babes In Toyland. The lyricists are Courtney Love, Kurt Cobain, Mark Arm, and Kat Bjelland.
Why these bands? A few reasons. First, they are bands that I have noticed over the years. They also have a lot in common with me as far as age, cultural background, community, etc. Second, it’s clear to me that these bands had emotional and lyrical interplay. Third, three of these bands are connected to us in Portland. That would be Hole (Courtney is from Portland), Nirvana (Kurt was connected to Portland through Courtney and others), and Babes In Toyland (Kat is also from Portland). The fourth band, Mudhoney, seems to be connected to all of us.
The fact that Kat and Courtney are both from Portland is very much de-emphasized in The Grunge Myth. But they came up in the Portland punk scene, and Kat and Courtney and Mudhoney were all familiar with Napalm Beach bandleader Chris Newman and his music. Nirvana’s relationship with Chris’ music has so far been locked in a box, wrapped in wool, and buried.
Back to the songs. The first thing to know about the songs is that the back stories are usually – not false, per say – but deliberately misleading. By which I mean, the back story may provide an image or a hint to the meaning, but it’s also often meant to throw you off the true path. If I thought that the writers of these songs truly didn’t want anyone to know what the songs mean, I’m not sure I’d be writing this. But most of the time, artists want to be understood. That’s why they are putting the words into a song instead of into a phone conversation, private letter, or locked journal.
On the other hand, there are things in these particular lyrics which, if not obscured, would cause problems. That is why these (and most) artists make up a false back story about their songs.
In this song, Kurt Cobain says that he is making up words that “don’t make sense.” But listen! I detect sarcasm.
Portland songwriter Rozz Rezabek has said (to me) that “On A Plain” borrows a phrase from one of his songs (if so, it might put another spin on the “love myself” line). Like many of Kurt Cobain’s songs, it alludes to what is and is not “safe” to say. The Black Sheep verse is odd. I guess zip codes are really important. [UPDATE: June 19, 2014 now that I have been repeatedly “punished” by the release of illicit and embarrassing footage, and now that I have experienced multiple counts of implied blackmail, I understand that Cobain’s “blackmail” verse probably ought to be taken literally.]
Another thing to notice with Hole and Nirvana songs is that when the albums come with printed lyrics, the words in print are sometimes different than the real words. Usually it’s just a single word that is swapped for another. (Also, this should go without saying, but lyrics found online are often wrong.) A word-swap example from the Hole song “Nobody’s Daughter” is when the printed lyrics say “no one here could ever stop my ruin now” (a relic from the older “demo” version of the song) but in reality she sings “no one here could ever stop my revenge now.”
Both words, ruin and revenge are significant, as is the fact that one word was exchanged for the other. It hints at a transformation. There are many such little word switches on Nirvana’s In Utero, like swapping ass for ash (“Francis Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle”).
Similarly, sounds of words are important: harrowing / heroin (Napalm Beach) whore / horror (Hole) aqua seafoam shame / I’ll proceed from shame (Nirvana). [Update June 19, 2014: Old Dirty Bastard’s “I am the only unique Ason” sounds like “I am the only uni-gay-son.”]
Symbols are very important to these writers. Kat Bjelland, Courtney Love, Mark Arm, and Kurt Cobain use, and used, symbols which would seem to have universal significance in very specific ways. I find Hole and Nirvana’s lyrics to be particularly illuminating. When the angels, stars, fire, dirt, dust, dolls, candy, mud, honey, santa claus etc appear in their songs (and sometimes in images and videos), they are references to specific people and situations.
For many of these images, you can often make a one-to-one correlation. (Hair = thoughts. Sun = Chris Newman. Dirt = degradation.)
Finally, in each of these four bands’ songs, identities can be fluid. Hole’s “Honey” is supposed to be about Kurt Cobain, and it is – but I believe there are two other subjects in the song. (The name “Honey” alone should be be a clue.) Sometimes one subject addressed in verses, and another in the bridge. Vocal inflections offer clues. [Update June 19, 2014: this transient identity thing is especially true in movies. For example, in the Austin Powers movie, Mike Myers plays several different characters, and the “sun” identity shifts from character to character.]
In particular, songs that seem to be about, or addressed to a woman are very likely actually about, or addressed to, a man. [UPDATE June 19, 2014: This is illustrated in James Bond and Austin Powers as a man dressed like a woman, ala Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre actors.]
Kurt Cobain identified as bisexual, another thing that is very much de-emphasized in The Grunge Myth. And it’s strange that The Myth would bury this aspect of Cobain’s personality, because it is so very present in his lyrics and other imagery. It seemed to be something he wanted people to know and understand about him.
“I’ve always been a paranoid person by nature anyhow, and now I have all these people so concerned with what I say and what I do at all times that it’s really hard for me to deal with that… If I could have predicted what was going to happen to me a few years ago, I definitely wouldn’t have opted for this kind of a life-style.” – Kurt Cobain, “The Dark Side of Kurt Cobain” Advocate interview (February 1993)
I have never met you or spoken with you, but I know you and my sweetheart Chris had a flirtation when you were still a teenager.
I now see so much of what you have been put through for so many years and I am so sorry.
I want all artists to be able to speak freely, to be able to tell their own truths, you and me included. It seems like this is a big problem for someone. And I need for Chris to not be invisible anymore. This, too, is a big problem.
The only way out that I can see, is for me to try to understand, and speak, the truth. I know I have to piece it together like a detective since when it comes to deviating from the script, insider’s lips are sealed.
Good thing I have a skeleton key.
Last month Mike Leach uploaded a Napalm Beach bootleg recording for “Into The Sky,” a song I had never heard before. Chris had never put it on an album.
The recording is from 1982, and the photos from 1984, both in Seattle. The guitar tone in heavily infused with both Electro-Harmonix Small Clone and Big Muff, Chris’ sound of that era. As I mentioned in my original article on Napalm Beach, Mark Arm of Mudhoney carefully examined Chris’ amp and pedals at the Vogue in spring 1986. By 1988 the Fender Twin/Big Muff tone became a big part of Mudhoney’s signature sound, and soon the Small Clone became Nirvana’s signature sound (Nirvana seemed to use the Big Muff mostly in the studio – I hear it all over In Utero). This in and of itself wouldn’t be so remarkable – except for the fact that by 1990 Chris and his music had dropped off the map in Seattle and was frozen out of anyplace connected with Seattle (like the U.K.). Chris continues to be deleted from his own history while others accept accolades for inventing some kind of “Seattle sound.”
When I heard the 1982 bootleg, it immediately became clear that Nirvana’s Very Ape (1993) lyrically links “Into The Sky” (1982) with Mudhoney’s song Mudride (1987). I saw that “Very Ape” was a message to, and about Chris and Napalm Beach. It began to confirm some of my suspicions as to what had happened between Mudhoney and Napalm Beach. The lyrics to “Mudride” are very telling, as are the lyrics to “Burn It Clean” from the same album, Super Fuzz Big Muff.
While I didn’t mention it directly in my first Napalm Beach article, I do sometimes wonder why Kurt Cobain never mentioned Napalm Beach or Snow Bud. While it may be easy to fool newcomers and outsiders, every old school punk rocker between Portland and Vancouver B.C. ought to know that it was slightly odd that Cobain would shout out to almost every northwest underground band except Chris Newman’s bands, especially considering how Chris had been so connected to Seattle, not to mention certain sonic/songwriting connections that I’ve noticed.
In fact, the omissions are so glaring that Chris believed that Kurt hated him. They had met backstage at Satyricon around 1988 and had an argument in which Chris stated that women were not good rock singers and Kurt begged to differ. (This is kind of funny since in 1986 Chris wrote and recorded an entire album for female vocals, but he can be a contentious ass when he’s drunk.) That all seemed to work itself out, but Chris thought that maybe that encounter, along with possible jealousy because of your earlier connection with him, added up to the long-term freezing out.
When Chris saw you with Francis backstage at No On 9 in 1992, you looked right past him. And when Bohemia After Dark television interviewed Krist and Kurt, asking them about their favorite Portland bands, they said Poison Idea, Hitting Birth, and the Wipers. And this is how it’s been, ever since Sub Pop launched their plan for world domination in 1987. Glaring blank spots.
All these years Chris has believed that all the Sub Pop associated musicians hated him. Now I believe there has been a distortion campaign, a string pulling campaign, and some kind of cruel game in which he is untouchable. No matter what they claim, the reality is that this game was designed for one simple reason: to destroy his reputation, bury him, and promote the idea that Sub Pop’s Seattle based bands invented the wheel.
I’m not saying it isn’t brilliant – I’m just saying it is wrong and very harmful, and I need these aggressions to end. I also want amends in the form of positive recognition.
Courtney, I think you may also be the target of a long term distortion campaign, but with a different motivation. In your case, I think that some people feel guilty over your husband’s suicide. Was there some bullying going on? What about issues of control? Because it sure seems like this narrative (myth) is tightly controlled, and those who tell the truth (even someone relatively unconnected, like me) are threatened and/or punished. And in Kurt’s interviews and music I sense shadows of serious trauma, guilt, and and suppression – something beyond the “legendary divorce.” Is it possible that someone wants to make you look as bad as possible to avoid scrutiny of their own behavior?
To me, the most frustrating thing is that they refuse to stop the game. Sub Pop, K Records, and the aptly named Kill Rockstars seem to be splitting up the back catalogs of Portland bands who were friends and contemporaries of Napalm Beach, and positioning themselves as experts and archivists – which is great! – except that so far, they continue to bury Chris and his music. They still have the nerve to snide about Portland “pot smoker jeans bands” and to dismiss Chris’ vast catalog as unimportant.
It felt like such a blessing last month when I saw and understood the message to Napalm Beach in “Very Ape.” When I went to bed that night the most amazing full moon positioned itself directly outside the window stayed there all night, bathing us in silver light so bright it kept waking me up. I took it as a positive sign.
Into the sky / a white fire light / only for me / only for me / wipe my eyes
Then I tried to write about it. That was the beginning of my being censored.
According to Collapse Board editor Everett True, the man who created the MYTH of grunge, my Masters Degree in English – along with being a guitar player, a songwriter, being exactly one year younger than Kurt Cobain, and growing up in a very similar logging/fishing town on the same Pacific coast highway as Aberdeen (Astoria, Bandon, North Bend etc) – does not actually qualify me to analyze or interpret Nirvana’s lyrics. At all.
At first I assumed True was somehow stuck mourning the death of Kurt Cobain. Like, it’s been almost 20 years and he’s been sober for a while, yet he is still stuck in this deep strangling grief? So much that no one else can touch Nirvana?
No, no, no. It was another smokescreen. THIS reality dawned when I noticed an image in the directors cut of Heart Shaped Box.
I saw that in this brand new version of the video, the little girl in the Ku Klux Klan robe is pushing an empty wheelchair towards Kurt Cobain’s unconscious body in the poppies while the overweight (visible woman) angel with dirty wings looks on with disapproval. It’s a striking moment for many reasons, one of them being it’s the first time the angel seems to be truly aware of her surroundings.
When I tried to ask Everett True about these things, he got very icy and started gaslighting me. Actually, he’d been gaslighting me for months, but now he turned it to 11. So Everett True and I broke off contact.
Then I noticed this:
HONEY is beautiful and amazing and this performance brings tears to my eyes every time. It told me that the parallels I had been seeing were real.
I now understand why Everett True dismissedNobody’s Daughter. He didn’t want anyone else take it seriously. Because in fact there is a great deal of honesty and courage in those songs. I see the album as a compliment to In Utero, and the two albums together, along with the knowledge that I already have, tell a fairly clear story. I know you overcame some serious obstacles to record and release Nobody’s Daughter, and I can detect that someone wants to bury it, too. The patterns are becoming familiar to me.
I want Nobody’s Daughter to be heard, and I want it to bring good things.
I see that Hole, Babes In Toyland, Mudhoney, and Nirvana all were writing songs that interweave, using coded language and common symbols. I am going to address this.